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2016 Rio Olympics When Social Issues Shadow the pride of Triumph

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at K College chapter.

This year brought with it the most iconic sporting event the world collectively knows: The 2016 Rio Olympics. To be quite honest, I am an avid viewer of the Olympics, but I rarely watch any other sports broadcasting. But as the Olympics progressed, I struggled to be supportive of the games when there are problems that should be addressed–and hopefully will be before the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.

I love the Olympics because it shares a history with its viewers. Iconic athletes like Michael Phelps, Katie Ledecky, Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Gabby Douglas and countless others gather in one location to demonstrate a skill that they have spent the bulk of their lives trying to perfect. They’ve spent their whole lives preparing for these moments, so I feel like the least I can do is give them my attention.

Records are broken across the board from many different countries and these are times in which I usually try to take it all in because these are records that will probably be spoken about well into the next couple decades of my life. Watching these moments on TV is just an exciting thing to think about. Simone Manuel became the first African-American woman to win an individual race for the U.S. in swimming for the U.S.; this momentis something that all American viewers will remember forever.

With all of this being said, there are social issues that shadow these triumphs. I could have written this article as “Sexism in the 2016 Rio Olympics,” but I’ve already read so many articles like that so let me just pull some of the highlights. With the games being an adamant follower of the gender binary with the separation of events into “men’s” and “women’s” categories, sexism is the most easily recognizable social problem the games offer.

It’s hard to unconditionally support the Olympics when announcers say things like “and there’s the man responsible” only moments after Katinka Hosszu won the gold and broke the world record in the 400m individual medley. How about giving credit to the woman who, I don’t know, actually won the race and actually broke the record? Was her husband/coach in the pool with her?

This next example has been everywhere–and for good reason:

Trying to give the tweet and/or article a connection to “home” is not an excuse to entirely leave out her name. I don’t have more words to explain my frustration with this incident.

Next, in reference to one female gymnast , an announcer said, “she flies in the air almost as high as a man does.” As an announcer for the American team, how can you compare five gold medal winning gymnasts in the women’s team all-around to a “man” when they have succeeded in their own way? Going along with this, an announcer said that Katie Ledecky—one of the most impressive and best swimmers in the world—”almost swims like a man,” to which the other announcer said, “No, she swims like Katie Ledecky.” Thank you for instantly correcting that, but it should not need to be defended in the first place.

Stop crediting men for the achievements of female athletes.

I could go on and on about the discrepancy between coverage of male athletics and female athletics, but I don’t need to write a novel here. The Olympics should be a time to celebrate the achievement of the individual, but the world is still caught up in this male dominated society where women just aren’t seen on the same playing field–no pun intended–as men. It’s unfortunate and highly unprogressive. It needs to be addressed in the next Olympics, because I’m not sure what I will do if these issues arise four years later.

I am a junior at Kalamazoo College in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Yes there really is a Kalamazoo! I aspires to be the go-to journalist for millennials to stay current with politics, entertainment, performing arts, and pop culture, through a broadcast journalism and social media platform. I believe that I am a true journalist, media, news, and entertainment mogul in the making.