It might seem like a small thing. A cricketer challenges the use of the word 'gay' as an insult. Why is everyone congratulating him on what ought to be the sort of thing everyone does? As Ebony Rainford-Brent comments, it requires a certain presence of mind, integrity and leadership to make that challenge. It takes concentration to be able to step outside the sporting contest back into reality, to be human for a moment, to say to someone who has transgressed that they have transgressed. Joe Root's rather beautiful and simple challenge shows that it both doesn't take much - two or three sentences, a firm tone - but it also takes a huge amount - bravery of that small, calm sort that is so often undervalued - to do the right thing. Joe Root (sometimes) batters a five-and-a-half ounce ball of rock-hard leather all over the place with a stick for a living. That bravery is one thing, physical, bodily. Root was in a dreadful run of form with the bat, and could have ignored the comment to concentrate on his own innings, but he did not. Instead, he intervened. He was not angry, if anything, he managed to show his disappointment rather well. That he went on to build a big score is great for him, but beside the point.
So, Joe, well done. I'm sure you're reading this thinking that it's very important to you that an amateurish writer should offer this praise, but there you go. In a time when a razor advert challenging aggressively masculine behaviour can get 1.4 million dislikes on YouTube, it does bear repeating: prejudice needs to be challenged.
One slightly disappointing feature of some of the commentary is how frequently the notion appears that it is the making of homophobic comments that is wrong. It is as though the homophobia that underlies it is not the wrong in itself, but the expressing of the view. At least Joe Root got it right when he said 'there's nothing wrong with being gay'. He did not say 'you can't say that', and the distinction is absolutely vital.
Just to be clear: yes, I cried. Again. It doesn't take much, these days.
When to the sessions of sweet silent thought