It’s still just the first week of the 2016 Rio Olympics and already, some media outlets covering the games are being blasted on social media for what critics are seeing as sexist coverage.
NBC swim commentator Dan Hicks landed himself in hot water when he gave credit to a female athlete’s trainer and husband for her gold medal rather than to her. After Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszú shattered a world record and earned a gold medal in the 400-meter individual medley, NBC cameras scanned over to her husband/coach and Hicks said, “There’s the man responsible.”
Hicks later apologized for his phrasing and, “wished he’d said things differently,” but not before Twitter put him through the wringer.
For whatever consolation it might offer Hicks, he’s not the only one who’s been targeted. Social media has become a collecting point for Olympic-sized sexist missteps. Some users even turned their frustrations into a drinking game.
“Drink every time an Olympics commentator says something sexist,” one Twitter user said.
U.S. trap shooter Corey Cogdell-Unrein won a bronze medal in women’s trap shooting Sunday, but her accomplishment has been overshadowed by the Chicago Tribune’s coverage of the news. The newspaper tweeted an article with the headline: “Wife of Bears’ lineman wins a bronze medal in Rio Olympics.”
Irked Twitter users wasted no time in taking the paper to task for considering her marriage to defensive end Mitch Unrein more important than her athleticism and for identifying her by his name instead of her own. In fact, after identifying her as the spouse of a Bear, the article segued into an assurance to the team’s fans that he had not skipped out of training camp to go watch his wife compete.
Critics sounded off again when, after the U.S. women’s gymnastics team dominated China in the qualifying round, a TV commentator said the seven women looked like they “might as well be standing in the middle of a mall” as the camera showed them laughing and chatting on the sidelines.
Even NBC’s decision to tape delay the Olympics is being called sexist. In a statement, NBC executive John Miller said women make up most of the viewership and they would rather watch a reality show than a sporting event:
“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.”