On an episode of Fox News’ “Sports Court”, host Tamara Holder invited two middle age men to debate whether or not women should wear makeup in the Olympic games. During the debate, one of the men, a radio host named Mark Simone, proclaimed, “I think when you see an athlete, why should I have to look at some chick's zits? Why not a little blush on her lips and cover those zits!”. It only got worse from there with the added comment from former NYC Detective Bo Dietl, saying, “Would you put money behind a gal that won the gold medal that looks like a washed out rag?" All while this segment was conducted, no one questioned why these men were entitled to speak on the athletes appearances.
Fox News was not the only media group who made similar remarks towards female athletes. The British Broadcasting Company (BBC) also diminished female excellence in its reporting of a Chinese diver’s, He Zi, win of the silver medal. This athlete was presented with her medal at the same time in which her now husband proposed. Not only was this a bad choice on his part, the BBC completely ignored Zi’s success and focused only on the proposal, claiming, “She ended up with an even bigger prize when her boyfriend Qin Xai, in front of a global TV audience, went down on one knee.” While theproposal may have been more important to Zi than winning the silver medal, the press shouldn’t be ignoring her athletic success. This sole focus on her proposal only further strengthens the idea that women should put their domestic life above personal success. While relationships are important, winning any medal at the Olympics holds a whole other level of excellence.
When the national anthem played for the American gymnastics team, many were outraged seeing as Gabby Douglas, one of the five American gymnasts to take home gold, did not put her hand over her heart, and instead stood at attention. She was continually harassed for her choice on several social media sites. However, when swimmer Ryan Lochte fabricated a story about being robbed at gunpoint, 2016 Rio spokesman Mario Andrada, defended him, saying “Let's give these kids a break. Sometimes you take actions that you later regret. They are magnificent athletes,” continuing to say, “Lochte is one of the best swimmers of all times. They had fun. They made a mistake. It's part of life. Life goes on. Let's go." While, Douglass was called a monster for her actions, Lochte was forgiven quickly, with a dismissal as simple as “boys will be boys.”
In other words, the media needs to get it together. Athletes are athletes, whether female or male, they both hold incredible strength and determination. Female Olympians have worked just as hard, if not harder to get to where they are today. Their treatment by the media should reflect that. Let’s stop addressing athletes differently because of their genders, and instead lets judge athletes on their athleticism.