SocietyGlobal 7 Times Media Coverage of Rio Olympics was Sexist and It’s Only Day 5

7 Times Media Coverage of Rio Olympics was Sexist and It’s Only Day 5

Women athletes from all over the world are crushing it at Rio Olympics 2016, but global media is still showing us that sexism is alive and well, kicking. Yes, this is 2016.

Women athletes from all over the world are crushing it at Rio Olympics 2016, but global media is still showing us that sexism is alive and well, kicking. Yes, this is 2016.

Also read: Your Handy Guide to Indian Sportswomen at Rio Olympics 2016

1. Katinka Hosszú, Swimmer, Hungry

Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszú rocked it in the women’s 400-meter individual medley at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro on August 6, shattering a world record with her performance and winning a gold medal. However, this wasn’t enough for NBC commentator Dan Hicks who felt it was more important to credit her husband/trainer for her success. “And there’s the guy responsible for turning his wife into an entirely new swimmer“, boomed Hicks’ voice in the arena.

Later Hicks said he regretted his choice of words but defended his statement by saying, “It is impossible to tell Katinka’s story accurately without giving appropriate credit to Shane, and that’s what I was trying to do.”

Katinka Hosszu. Image via AP.

Katinka Hosszu. Image via AP.

2. Corey Cogdell-Unrein, Trap Shooting, USA

Corey Cogdell-Unrein won her second bronze medal in women’s trap shooting on August 7. However, the Chicago Tribune felt that it was more important to put in her marital status and her husband’s name in their headline than her sport or even her name! Imagine that! According to them, women must be content with their husbands getting credit for their success.

After an outrage on Twitter, the publication apologised for their tweet and defended their statement by saying, “We identified three-time U.S. Olympian Corey Cogdell-Unrein only as the “wife of a Bears lineman”. She’s awesome on her own. We focused too hard on trying to emphasize the local connection Cogdell-Unrein has to Chicago.” They also edited their headline and article and included her name (wow, thank you so much), but still retained her marital status and her husband’s name. The said article talks about her husbad’s interest in shooting (wtf!), how they met and concluded the article with her husband’s ‘expert’ thoughts on shooting.

3. Women’s Gymnastics, USA

NBC obviously didn’t learn their lesson. During the coverage of women’s gymnastics on August 7, an as yet unidentified NBC commentator said Team USA members look like, “They might as well be standing in the middle of a mall“, when the smiling women stood victorious after nailing the qualifying round. An insulting comment like this would never be made about male athletes.

NBC hasn’t yet commented on this incident, which came only a few days after a study by the Cambridge University Press found that in the media’s coverage of sports, men were three times more likely to be mentioned in a sporting context than women — who, meanwhile, were regularly described with non-sporting details such as their age, marital status and appearance.



4. Katie Ledecky, Swimmer, USA

U.S. swimmer Katie Ledecky broke her own her own world record during the women’s 400 meter freestyle on August 6, but The Daily Mail commentators couldn’t recognise her talent for what it was, but instead chose to call her “female Michael Phelps”.



5. Women don’t watch the Olympics for the results

NBC at it again! Maybe, they should get a medal in being ‘The Most Sexist News Publication Ever’! NBC is delaying some of its Olympics coverage to allow more viewers to watch them in prime time. This has sparked some complaints as – if you’re on social media – you’re likely to find out the results prior to when they are broadcast. John Miller, NBC’s chief marketing officer, justified the delay by saying,

The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and miniseries wrapped into one. And to tell the truth, it has been the complaint of a few sportswriters. It has not been the complaint of the vast viewing public.”


6. Simone Biles, Gymnastics, USA

We are just getting tired of this, NBC okay? NBC commentator Jim Watson, as three-time world champion Simone Biles flies from the uneven bars and soars above the mat before sticking a near-perfect landing, says, “I think she might even go higher than some of the men.”


7. NBC NBC NBC.. Argh!

*bangs head*

Let me repeat this for the nth time: I absolutely hate it when men address grown women as ‘girls’. It’s highly condescending, infantilising and a very top down approach. In Indian/South Asian and some other countries contexts it means a female remains a girl until she is married, even if it’s at the age of let’s say 29. The concept being a girl becomes a woman after having sex which apparently in the above said contexts only happens when one gets married. It’s highly patriarchal and has connotations to women’s morality and sexuality.

Turns out Indians/South Asians aren’t the only ones. Apparently being an Olympic athlete you still can’t avoid being called a girl when you’re clearly a grown woman. At some point, NBC announcers referred to the “men’s cycling team,” and the “girls’ cycling team.” (argh), reports The Huffington Post. And another commentator referred to four-time Olympic gold medalist Missy Franklin as an “enthusiastic girl.”

After Sweden’s Sarah Sjostrom broke her own world record in the 100-meter butterfly, she was continually asked by NBC anchors if she was going to “do the samba on Copacabana Beach.” They even went so far to suggest a comment, “Interesting for this reason: it’s unclear how seriously the Swede takes the 200m freestyle.” Please stop, NBC.

Can someone please bring the NBC folks back home already? They don’t need to be in Rio, but in a class of ethical journalism.

And to wrap it up, a very helpful dude on Twitter took the pain to explain cycling to Olympic cyclist Annemiek van Vleuten of the Netherlands, who crashed before completing her race. This is a primer for male spectators on how to mansplain to world’s greatest female athletes on how to play their own sports. Yes, you read that right!

Head is bursting. Everyday sexism at Rio Olympics listicle ends here. We shall smash some more patriarchy tomorrow. Ciao!

Featured Image Credit: Nurphoto via Getty Images

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