Reports on Olympic female athletes are sexist, should be about skill

August 29, 2016

Megan Lunsford

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     A study by the Cambridge University Press evaluated keywords used by media to describe men and women competing in Olympic sports.

     Men are more likely to be referred to as fast, great, big and strong. Women are described as older, aged, pregnant, married or unmarried.

     Olympic trap shooter and bronze medalist Corey Cogdell is known as the wife of Chicago Bears lineman Mitch Unrein to several media outlets.

     The headline of a Chicago Tribune article published on Aug. 8 reads, “Corey Cogdell, wife of Bears lineman Mitch Unrein, wins bronze in Rio.”

     When media report on female Olympians and athletes, they fail to give women the credit they deserve for their achievements.

     Among the sexist associations of women, Cambridge discovered that men are mentioned almost three times more often than women in media, leading to dismissive news coverage of female athletes.

     Media likes to mention trivial details of women competitors like their outfit, marital status and makeup.

     This is due to the newsroom’s lack of diversity. Only 21 percent of press that covered the Olympics in Rio is female. This causes a gendered lens that prevents un-biased reporting on female athletes.

     Former NYPD detective and media personality Bo Dietl said he would “like to see a person who wins that gold medal (to) go up there and look beautiful.”
As if your mascara is going to stay on after swimming across a 50-meter pool.

     Who cares if a talented athlete has broken records? The real concern is how attractive they are or whether or not they are single.

PULL: “Who cares if a talented athlete has broken records? The real concern is how attractive they are or whether or not they are single.”

     This sexist lens on the way sports are reported, both at a collegiate and national level, is unacceptable.

     Athletes need to be recognized for their achievements and not their physical appearance.

     The first step in preventing the sexist commentary is to start a conversation. Point out media bias and inappropriate comments, because reporters could be speaking out of ignorance.

     We have to educate the community and respond to the double-standards to bring diversity, accuracy and compassion to our news sources.

     Women in the Olympics should get the same quality of news coverage that their male counterparts receive.

     Reporters and viewers need to realize that commentary on a female athlete’s appearance, marital status or any other offensive, sexist comments, are not only irrelevant; they don’t give nearly the amount of justice these women’s athletic feats deserve.

     Female athletes need to be represented in a way that lifts them up to where men have always been.