Olympic commentators under fire for disrespecting female athletes

olympic rings

Commentators at the Rio Olympics have come under fire for the way they speak about female athletes. The media has also been criticised for the focus given to female athletes’ husbands.

Fans on social media have criticised commentators for referring to female athletes as ‘girls’, instead of ‘women’. People have called the remarks ‘condescending’ and ‘disappointing’.

Criticism has also fallen on the media for their coverage of female athletes. During women’s judo, Kosovo representative, Majlinda Kelmendi won gold, becoming the first-ever Olympic medallist for her country.

However, viewers were left less than impressed during the BBC coverage, in which a commentator referred to the match as a ‘catfight’.

Fans were also disappointed with the reaction to Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu breaking the world record in the 400 metre individual medley. Despite the great achievement, the press highlighted Hosszu’s relationship with her coach and husband, Shane Tusup. NBC commentator Dan Hicks went further and suggested that Tusup was “the guy responsible” for the win.

The Chicago Tribune was also criticised after referring to American shooter, Corey Cogdell-Unrein as the ‘wife of Bears’ lineman’. The story, about Cogdell-Unrein winning a bronze medal for the USA, failed to include her name in the headline. After the backlash, the story was however later altered to include her name.

This news comes as a study conducted by the Cambridge University Press found that women in sport are commonly referred to as ‘aged’, ‘unmarried’, ‘pregnant’ or ‘older’ in the media.

In contrast, the study found that men were likely to be described as ‘fastest’, ‘real’, ‘great’ and ‘strong’. Men are also referred to twice as much as women, but when women are mentioned in the media, their appearance or personal lives often takes precedent.

This year has seen a record number of women competing in the Olympic games, with approximately 4,700 female athletes. At 45 per cent, this is nearly half of all representatives.

About the author

Alison is the Digital Content Editor for WeAreTheCity. She has a BA Honours degree in Journalism and History from the University of Portsmouth. She has previously worked in the marketing sector and in a copywriting role. Alison’s other passions and hobbies include writing, blogging and travelling.
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