Women in sports have always been perceived as not as athletic or serious as their male counterparts. Even in the first couple of days of the 2016 Rio Olympics, women athletes have already been ridiculed on the basis of their gender alone. Even big broadcast companies, such as NBC and the Chicago Tribune, have found themselves in hot water in the way’s they’ve discussed female participants.
NBC first started the sexist rants by giving the credit for a female athlete’s win to her male coach. Dan Hicks from NBC went on air to say that Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszú’s husband was actually the one person who deserved credit for her astonishing win. The newscaster was quoted as saying, “And there’s the man responsible,” after cameras panned to Shane Tunup, who is Hosszu’s partner.
This one comment sparked a lot of outrage on social media. This begged the question: are female athletes being taken seriously during this Olympics season? These NBC statements come after a recent incident that involved Serena Williams. The world-class tennis champion was asked if she was excited to be one of the best FEMALE athletes of all time. She quickly responded to say that she was excited to be one the greatest athletes of all time, non gender binding.
The Chicago Tribune also got press for their infamous comments about another female Olympian. After Corey Cogdell-Unrein won the bronze medal for her participation in her trap shooting event, the paper discussed not her considerable achievements, but rather they gave credit to her husband — who is a professional football player.
The paper came out with an article and a tweet that stated, “Wife of Bear’s lineman wins a Bronze medal today in Rio.” The simple fact is that even though this tweet didn’t directly give credit to Unrein’s husband, her achievement wasn’t the main focus. Neither the article nor the tweet had any mention of what event she won her medal in, but it did provide the name of the professional football team that her husband played for.
But the worst moment of sexism during the Olympics came again from NBC, this one about the women’s gymnastic team. As the athletes were waiting for their turn to perform, one commentator stated that they “might as well be standing in the middle of a mall.”
This comment proves that women who are athletes are not taken seriously, even though their sports and competitions are just — or even more — challenging than their male counterparts’ events. Women athletes need to be given the same amount of respect as men do, because they are also winning and competing at very high levels of endurance. You would never hear a commentator say, “well, Michael Phelps just looks like he’s at a BBQ or day drinking.”
The most interesting part about the shopping comment, however, is that the US gymnastics team went on to completely destroy their competition after they were caught “looking like mall rats.” This sexism needs to stop, and more commentators need to realize that “women athletes” are just “athletes.”