The Olympics always bring forth feelings of national pride and inspiration. Though I don’t watch any of the events live, I enjoy reading about athletic accomplishments and tearing up at the proud parent and grandparent videos.
I don’t have to pay for satellite TV to be in the Olympic loop, I, and the rest of the world, can just follow on social media and in some cases that seems to be causing trouble.
This is the first year that I have really been aware of how much social media has changed coverage of the Olympics. The fans can actually interact with the athletes as well as everyone else involved in making the Olympics, and Olympic coverage, happen.
Maybe it is just because of the publications that I follow, maybe my Facebook news feed is so very specialized to my tastes that I see more of this than the rest of you, but this year there seems to be more feminists pointing out sexism in the Olympics and media coverage of the Olympics than ever before.
I have a feeling the Olympics have always been pretty sexist, but now more than ever there is discussion around it.
Female athletes who have won medals have been identified in newspaper headlines as the wives of prominent men, instead of being recognized for their own significant accomplishments.
Sportscasters have been called out for objectifying men, and considering the footage, I would say they are guilty.
This makes me sad for my fellow journalists. Though I am sure headlines mentioning football teams get lots of hits on Google, so will ‘Olympic gold medallist.’ And as for objectifying the athletes, looks have nothing to do with athletic ability, and comments should stick within the realm of athletic ability, since that is the whole point of the Olympics.
Though the media professionals are screwing up and social media is a platform for pointing out and discussing those mistakes, it is also a platform for haters to contribute to that out-of-line conversation.
I read somewhere that one of the gymnasts on the American women’s team said she cried because of comments she saw online about herself. There are constant apologies from athletes because they might have offended someone for something as simple as looking up at a scoreboard and thinking and being misconstrued as to being mad about the results.
Yes, social media leads to good discussions, but I think the over-analysis of these athletes has gone too far.
I don’t think people should be limited to saying only nice things, like the age old lesson we learned as kids goes, commenting on looks can be nice, but in this case it is inappropriate.
So I am going to amend that lesson. Maybe we in this world of social media, and ongoing comments from whoever, whenever, wherever, we should remind ourselves, “If you don’t have anything constructive to say, don’t say anything at all.”