Am I the only one who is just a little too happy that the Olympics are finally over? Don’t get me wrong. I LOVE the summer games. They sweep in every four years and dominate our T.V. and social media lives. But there comes a time when it all must end, and thank goodness for Sunday’s closing ceremony. I almost can’t believe I am saying this as an avid sports fan, but as much as I enjoyed watching, I need a couple of years to recover from all of this Olympic fever. Some things need to change before we do this again.
As usual, this year had many record breaking moments that left us in awe of the human body and spirit. Gabby Douglas, Usain Bolt, and Michael Phelps are just to name a few. I am always so proud of the women and men who go before the world stage and “put on” for their states and countries. I especially love it when an athlete is from one of the places I call home (or just from a place I visited that I really like). I cheer on people from all around the world of different ethnicities, nationalities, body types, and experiences as they go for the gold. It is usually around this time that I find it highly ironic (and annoying) that Black people from everywhere are at once considered the greatest athletes and also the least physically fit people in the world. But that is another story for another time.
This is about something else I found annoying at this year’s games. It is also ironic, and in some cases down right deplorable, the way sports commentators simultaneously applaud and degrade Olympic competitors. They increasingly sensationalize and dramatize everything coming across more like Andy Cohen on a “Watch What Happens” reunion show rather than the quality sports journalism that I expect to be greeted with at such an event. I hated listening to the overly critical and tasteless voices of this year’s Olympic event commentators discuss success and failure without a shred of compassion.
It got to the point that I just hit the mute button, save for the moment right after an American wins for #teamUSA. Then, we are all encouraged to be proud as we mumble through the national anthem. Other than that, language equivalent to passive/aggressive trash talk is acceptable. Truth be told, the comments about an athlete during an event should draw upon the trial and errors that have brought them to this point. However, these Olympic Games have been riddled with condescending mockery and repetitious highlights of embarrassing moments like an episode of Bloopers. If I see the footage of Lolo Jones tripping over that last hurdle in 2008 one more time, I’m going to cut the cord.
It was also clear that the value of making the podium has diminished since I last checked. I feel bad for Silver and Bronze medalists. It was as if everyone bought into a Talladega Nights’ mentality: “If you’re not first, your last.” Since when? To make the podium in any position means that you are already a huge winner by beating hundreds of others to get to that moment. But if you listened to the commentators, you would think that a Bronze medal was really dried clay given to anyone as a “Thanks for playing” door prize. I get it. Gold is golden, but it is honorable to medal at the largest sporting event in the world. Right?
And then, there is the way the men and women are discussed differently. Excuse me, but when male runners are in the starting blocks and being called by country, this is probably not the right time to tell me about their doping disqualification in 2004. If they have been allowed to compete now, then let the man run! Please!
I started to also notice that men are considered stronger as they get older, while women are considered weaker with age. The oldest male to compete in gymnastics was celebrated for his contributions to the sport at the age of 39 years old with a full head of gray hair. But questions loom regarding the relevance of a female gymnast that commentators might suggest peaked in their career at 16. Really? (I will spare you any discussion here about the thoughtless and careless “nicknames” given to women such as a flying squirrel. Carry on!)There is a clear age difference between the men and women in these two events, but it’s not just on the mat.
I didn’t fully watch the Olympics. I catched some of it here and there only because a relative was all gong ho about it but I do recall over hearing some of the things you mentioned such as “flying squirrel” and the comment about the gymnast peaking at 16 etc. and I remember thinking what’s that about but I didn’t read too much into it. This article pretty much sums it all up. And let’s not forget having to be subjected to Bob Costas botched face from all that plastic surgery and Botox he seemingly is the next Dick Clark!
I totally agree with you on the commentary. Another thing that irritated me was the interviewing of the winners. On a few occasions they interviewed the losers just because they were Americans. What happened to be above any and all biases in the interest of fairness and competition? At the last Olympics an Israeli won a gold medal and it was the first I believed for that country. Lo and behold it was given prominent feature by almost all the commentators because it was a one of a kind thing. This Olympics featured one unique winner and there was no interview with this person. Could it that this winner was Black and male, was from the small country of Trinidad and Tobago and he was as quiet as a lamb. This 19 year old man won the javelin competition beating out the heavy hitters in the world. He was also the second person from the Western Hemisphere to win the gold at this event. The last person was an american who did it about 52 years ago. This is a very remarkable achievement and yet the Olympics organizers and the commentators never gave this young man the credit he deserved. To me it was a slap in the face to the people of that country and it showed that even at the Olympics all countries are not treated equally.
He was Grenadian. NBC did a large feature video and an interview afterwards. The only thing they did wrong was call the nutmeg on our flag a cocoa pod.
I still have it saved to my DVR because I was so excited btw
@JGIrl: You might find that the Grenadian won the 400 meters and the Trini won the Javlin
@WarrenEvans: Well said, Ok I am from Trinidad (The Republic of Trinidad and Tobago) and Yes, we must be more proud than the rest of the world, But…Keshorn is 19, from a tine fishing village on a tiny island, and was able to rattle the world’s best into slipping off their game. Didn’t anyone want to gain some insight into the mind behind that ability? He is a humble, decent, loving youngster who only the month before won the World Junior…one month…before that he was even more completely unknown. On his departure to the world’s he was given..javelins, so he could compete! He flew to the Olympics carried, with the team,by Caribbean Airlines for free or would never have been able to pay for the flight…he beat the best because of who he is as a person, the other competitors simply couldn’t pull it together and crumbled under the pressure…and the 19 year old handled it like a seasoned pro…
I agree with a majority of this article which is why I watched the games online live when I could. It’s just better to watch the athletes do what they do instead of having to hear the commentators. In regards to the flying squirrel Bela and his wife gave that name to Gabby because of her ability on the uneven bars to fly higher than any of her competitors, not the media. The media took it and ran with it.
I particularly wasn’t a fan of the opening ceremony on NBC. Bob Costas showed his ass and his racist, xenophobic comments were disgusting. To bring up Uganda’s Idi Amin in context with Winston Churchill like the latter was some saint was deplorable to me. Not to mention the blatant greenwashing of tyrant corporations throughout
@yolo: We can’t even begin on the green-washing and the healthy eating promo’s by corp sponsors!! We just can’t!! It has always been clear that with any marketing device since newspaper, to radio, tv, and social media, audiences can be bought, but it is so blatant and down right heavy handed and odd sometimes.
THANK YOU! I absolutely HATE listening to Ato Bolden commentate for track & field. His commentary is so annoying.
@ReeB: ABSOLUTELY AGREE WITH THIS!!!!!!!!!
Agree 100% with this article.
I completely agree with this article!! I was upset about the same thing while I was watching. The commentators did not have the heart and soul of the Olympics in mind during these games. I especially agree with the silver and bronze aspects of this story. Instead of saying that an athlete won the silver or bronze, they would say that they lost the Gold. This was said a lot for Cullen Jones when he won the silver in the swimming competition. However this was not said when Michale Phelps won silver or just didn’t plum make the cut. They were devastated! Talking about how sad a situation it was. With minority athletes well you may have made it to the podium but you still lost. It was disgusting. I won’t even get started on the Gabby Douglas and Jordan Weiber fiasco. It was like they didn’t even want Gabby to win and they didn’t even think that she would place!! The opening ceremony wasn’t the only disappointment in the games to me, the commentators are at the top of my list!!
My wtf moment was in gymnastics during the vault competitions. The whole time the guy was talking about how much better mckayla was than everyone else and that all the other gymnasts must be intimidated just being in her ethereal presence. When a gymnast from Romania did a really good vault they started talking about how much older she was than everyone else (only 24!) and he started picking apart her vault. When mckayla did her vault and landed on her butt, he just stayed quiet. The one male gymnastics commentator is the worst! He had such an American bias it was kind of annoying and a little sickening. Nice to know I wasn’t the only one to notice.
Kershon Walcott from trinidad and Tobago,gold medalist for javelin..check him out.
Great article …. I read this earlier. I was watching gymnastics and told one of my girlfriends that little Russian girl who got silver I think in the all-around was boo-hoo crying even though she got SILVER …. in the OLYMPICS! Same goes with the whole team …. they looked sad as all get out.
I’m 99% sure many of them who “came in dead last” were just happy to be there …. especially the rower. I saw his story as well.
@KenyaBee: You have a good point. These girls feel like crap when they are not rated #1. And the commentators as well as coaches can sometimes make them feel much more fragile. Then, these are the young people hailed as role models and examples of success. Do we really want young people hearing and feeling all that negative feedback and enforcing low self esteem when someone is not on top? a mess!
Awesome article! Competition seems to equal mean spirit these days, as some of the competitors were even expelled from the games for nasty insensitive tweets and what not. Our culture gets meaner as the years go i.e. bullying youngsters to death. What’s sad is this mentality is celebrated i.e. countless so called reality shows. It needs to stop!
Much of the Media coverage overshadowed the accomplishments of many of these athletes at the Olympics. It’s sad to see that many of these athletes who got the Bronze or Silver Medals made life changing accomplishments before our very eyes and yet were not recognized for it. The media were merely doing the job that they were told to do. It’s sad. But in our hearts as Jamaicans, Chinese, South Africans, Americans etc….. the real story was told when that gentleman Oscar Pistorius representing South Africa ran in the Olympics. Scratch that, he WON. He epitomized what the Olympics was all about. Great Article!
The Olympics, is a farce; tragic comedy, and will ultimately go he way of the dinosaur. But before it becomes extinct it will continue to evolve into a corporate whore mongoring institution to further widening of the social and economic gap between those who believe they are superior intellectually, socially, and of course athletically and those of us who simply want to compete for the sake of “honor” and “goodwill”. It will ultimately be used as a tool to dishonor, discredit, and disregard other people of this world. Hunger Games, here we come.
@Mark: Damn I agree with everything you said!!!!!!!
“As a facilitator and consultant for diversity training and marketing, I encourage NBC news and sports commentators to participate in a training on the subjects of ablest, ageist, nationalist, gender discriminatory and offensive language before they head to Brazil. I do not wish to be subjected to such tasteless buffoonery in South America.”
I seriously could not agree more with this article and this last statement. I LOVE the Olympics and seeing athletes at the top of their game from all over the world, take part in an enjoy and compete so fiercely is truly amazing. It’s disgusting how those who do not get gold are treated, silver and bronze (hell even 4th) are still marvelous athletic feats. I truly love the olympics and the commentators and news coming articles being written on the olympic athletes nearly destroyed the experience from me. I mean do we even need to get into how the hype over Gabby’s hair was mostly a manufactured issued of the media or how the gymnastics commentators kept calling Mustafina- the Russian gymnast- a “diva” and saying how bad her attitude was, but later when commenting on Gabby Douglas who she lost the gold to, she was extremely complimentary, of course they didn’t show that interview. This coverage was abysmal.