Just a few more talented athletes


They’re over. The 2012 Summer Olympic Games, that is.

With fanfare and a great deal of British humor, the closing ceremonies finished. All that’s left is the washing up: literally cleaning the venues, getting London traffic back to its normal slog (though an astonishing number of Londoners either left the capital entirely or chose to telecommute throughout the Games, which eased the burden on all roads), and, of course, shooing off visiting athletes. This last may be difficult, as at least one nation, Cameroon, has seen a clutch of its athletes scarper, presumably to beg for asylum or simply to vanish into the British mist as yet more unaccounted-for illegal immigrants.


Something else that’s over: the denigrating NBC commentary. Ignore for the moment the crass materialism of postponing coverage of the games – for those without premium channels – until evening in the US. Postpone for awhile the outrage at NBC’s slicing-and-dicing of the opening ceremonies, which omitted the honoring of people murdered in the 2005 terrorist attacks on London transit (FYI to Americans: this is akin to blanking out 9/11 memorials).


Let’s just concentrate for a moment on condescending, paternalistic remarks made by male NBC commentators. Here are three:


Women’s 10K swim: “She’s a good little swimmer.”


Women’s road cycling: “… the girls on bikes.”


Women’s team synchronized swimming: “The Egyptian girls are happy to be out of the cellar.”


Imagine for a moment that the men making these idiotic remarks were watching males in their sport: “He’s a good little swimmer”; “… the boys on bikes”; “The Egyptian boys are happy to be out of the cellar”. Sound pretty asinine, don’t they? That’s because they are.


So are the above comments on female athletes. These remarks are moronic, foolish, and dim.


Some sports reporting has improved. I don’t understand the rationale behind assigning male commentators to women’s gymnastics – clearly none of those men have excelled at the sport – but I was largely impressed by the way they have become more respectful in their choice of words . . . even though many of those gymnastic competitors are girls (they have not yet reached 18). Gymnastics for females is now about speed and strength, and it’s harder to toss around an adult body. No wonder teenagers shine.


But the other male sports commentators?


It’s particularly easy to make inaccurate, disparaging remarks when your arse is planted in a comfy chair, and you have access to food, water and unlimited air.


If NBC wins the right to televise the Olympics from Rio de Janeiro in 2016, I hope the XXXIst Olympiad and the IOC mandate accurate and respectful reporting. No one deserves to be called a “good little” athlete. If the person competing is 18 or over, she is a woman, not a girl. If a female team competes, they’re women. Etcetera.


Consequences for failure to adhere to respectful coverage rules? Individual fines. Heavy fines. Hit the man where it hurts.


But I like this one just as well: Call a woman a girl, say something condescending or demeaning about her, and you’re in. That’s right, you’re in the sport, sport.


Strap on that helmet, straddle that bike, and you’re off on the women’s road race route, 140 kilometres through southwest London and the lovely county of Surrey, rain or shine, just like the women did. Marianne Vos of the Netherlands won her gold medal for a time of 3:35:29. Sure you can better that?


Think the swimmers are girls? Great. Pull on that Speedo and get ready for a 10K slog in the Serpentine. Éva Risztov of Hungary did it in 1:57:38.2, winning gold. Are you faster than that?


And if you like swimming and gymnastics, how about combining them? Synchronized swimming is an oxygen-deprived sport that also requires incredible grace. The Russian team won with a combined score of 197.030, only 3 points ahead of the silver medalists, China. They showed mirror-like synchronization, innovative moves, and multiple lifts, tossing up their smallest teammate while the rest stayed underwater . . . with no air.


So slick gelatin in your hair, put on lots of waterproof makeup, and squeeze into a sequined one-piece. Remember to smile.


Oh, and prepare to drown, Mr. Condescending-Git Commentator. Despite your hot air, you haven’t got the lungs for synchronized swimming.


Or as they say in Yorkshire, only 160 miles north of the 2012 Summer Games:


You’re all mouth and no trousers.



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Filed under 2012 Olympics, 2012 Summer Games, Communication, England, Harassment, London Olympics, Misogyny, NBC, Sports broadcasting, Synchronized swimming, Television, Yorkshire

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