Angered Audience Take to Twitter Over Sexist Olympic Commentary 

She “might as well be standing around at a mall” said an NBC commentator about the US gymnasts competing at Rio.

Sports Buzz
3 min read
(Photo: AP/<b>The Quint</b>)

Senior reporter Rajdeep Sardesai was recently pulled up by Sania Mirza when he asked the Indian tennis star when she would ‘settle down’.

Now, several media agencies covering the Rio games have come under the scrutiny by audiences for their sexist portrayals of some of the world’s greatest athletes.

More female athletes have been competing and winning at every consecutive Olympics.

Making history with the biggest women’s contingent of 292 athletes, USA has been piling up a heap of gold in events including women’s gymnastics, swimming and cycling, moving almost head-to-head with their male counterparts. 20-year-old Kimia Yousufi is the sole female athlete representing Afghanistan at Rio and fencer Ibtihaj Muhammad became the only American to compete in the Olympics wearing a hijab.

But audiences aren’t quite feeling a golden glow watching their accomplishments. They have been angered at the way women have been portrayed and have been relentless in pouncing on every slight.

They’re going on the offensive, taking to social media to slam what they perceive as sexist portrayals. But some may be a little off the mark.


Wife of a Bears Lineman or Olympic Medallist in Her Own Right?

“Wife of a Bears’ lineman wins a medal” tweeted Chicago Tribune when American trapshooter Corey Cogdell-Unrein won a bronze medal.

Neither the Twitterati nor second-time bronze medallist Corey, who is married to Chicago Beard defensive end Mitch Unrein, took the comment too well. Corey said women should be ‘recognised for our own accomplishments’.

Tribune did not apologise, however, they provided an explanation.

She “Might as Well be Standing Around at a Mall”

As American gymnast and three-time world champion Simone Biles performed on the uneven bars, NBC commentator Jim Watson said:

I think she might even go higher than some of the men.

And as the team chatted during preliminaries, he said they “might as well be standing around at a mall.”


Husband or Wife?

When gay beach volleyball player Larissa Franca embraced her spouse after a match, NBC Sports broadcaster Chris Marlowe referred to her as her “husband,” not wife.

Husband’s Gold Medal?

Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu set a world record in winning the gold medal in the 400-metre individual medley. At the moment of triump, NBC play-by-play announcer Dan Hicks noted her coach/husband Shane Tusup in the crowd and said:

There’s the guy responsible for turning Katinka Hosszú, his wife, into a whole different swimmer.

Twitter freaked out.

But wait. Did you notice the ‘coach/husband’ bit? Would we also object to a commentator saying that one of the reasons for a male athlete winning was his coach?

Deninger, who teaches sports media courses at Syracuse University, said in his defence:

If Dan Hicks had quoted Hosszú and said she credited her husband for her success, then you are being a reporter.


Rowdy Gaines, an NBC broadcaster, however, was highly praised for his comment when US swimmer Katie Ledecky broke her own world record.

A lot of people think she swims like a man. She swims like Katie Ledecky, for crying out loud. 
Rowdy Gaines

Each comment has been pounced upon as a dig against women, showing a bias against female athletes in favour of men – many times, the sexism has been obvious. But weren’t a couple a little blown out of proportion?

(With AP inputs)

(At The Quint, we are answerable only to our audience. Play an active role in shaping our journalism by becoming a member. Because the truth is worth it.)

Stay Updated

Subscribe To Our Daily Newsletter And Get News Delivered Straight To Your Inbox.

Join over 120,000 subscribers!