Watching the Olympics is a favorite activity for many this summer. Michael Phelps has swam his last career race (so he says), Missy Franklin has stolen audiences with her confidence and smile, and Gabby Douglas has made history as she won Gold at the Women’s Gymnastics All-Around Finals. The talent, commitment, and confidence bleeding from every Olympic event this year is inspirational and amazing to watch. But honestly, can we just turn off the commentators and prohibit journalists from reporting on anything other than the outcomes?
It is disturbing that the media has began to report on Ryan Lochte’s parents home being in foreclosure and Gabby Douglas’ mom filing bankruptcy. Spectators have led journalists to write about Gabby Douglas’ hair! Yes, let’s talk about her hairstyle and ignore the fact that she is the first African American girl to women gold in gymnastics! The commentators during the qualifying round for all-around women’s gymnastics kept the conversation around Jordan Weiber’s emotions when she found out she came in third and therefore did not qualify for the All-around finals. They made comments like “this is so awkward” as her teammates Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas celebrated their achievement in qualifying. Yes, it is awkward and difficult and unimaginable for anyone who is not an Olympian… but is it really necessary to have cameras in her face and commentators dwelling on her strong emotional reaction? Because what that does is portray her as a weak woman instead of the strong, talented Olympian that she is.
The one that made me fast forward through my DVR’d Olympics as I caught up one night was the two misogynistic sad excuses for reporters who sat in the ESPN headquarters in London to report on all of the events. I am too disgusted by them to even look up their names. But one was talking about he had the opportunity to watch a women’s volleyball match — I believe it was Brazil and I forget who else, but that doesn’t matter and definitely wasn’t the focus of his commentating. He talked about how he was so “over stimulated” because of the dancers during time outs and of course, the women playing beach volleyball. He joked how it was a tough match to be sent to and his colleague reporting next to him scoffed that he was only allowed to go to the men’s volleyball match, which is just not as exciting. After making comments alluding to the bodies and sexual appeal of the women’s volleyball game, he finally ended with a joke “oh well it was good athletics too.” Why is it that during the Olympic games that, for the first time, have a woman on every country’s team and the U.S. has sent more women then men to London to compete, the media is focusing on the physical characteristics of female athletes and the emotional state they are in during events? It is because we cannot admit that women are talented, independent, strong, and a capable of competing right up there with men. We are so much more comfortable keeping women Olympians in the stereotypical sexy and emotional mold that women are so often portrayed in.
It has been extremely distasteful and horribly poor reporting. At the end of the day, these female Olympians are making history while journalists/reporters are making fools of themselves.