Friday, August 12, 2016

Homophobia and Sexism on an Olympic Level

The U.K. Daily Mail implied/claimed that the above enthusiastic and joyous hug was unmanly. NBC sports refused to recognize Tom Daley's fiancé Dustin Lance Black during their coverage of the 10 M Synchronized Platform Diving competition. A straight reporter used Grindr to out Olympic athletes. Then NBC didn't even cover men's gymnastics team competition and barely covered the individual all-around, relegating it to late at night.

If you were watching NBC prim time coverage you would not have seen the above hug because they did not show the 3 M Synchronized Springboard Diving competition. It was relegated to on demand coverage only, with what I think was Australian announcers, even though the Americans miraculously won silver while Chris Mears and Jack Laugher won gold against the best of odds. Bronze medalist China was expected to win gold, but Mears and Laugher outperformed the Chinese. So let’s move on from this outdated, ridiculous and homophobic notion that a man-on-man hug, or crying happy or sad tears, is somehow emasculating, or should call into question someone’s sexuality. As Chris Mears and Jack Laugher showed in that beautiful, instantaneous moment, there’s nothing quite as masculine as really knowing yourself, being truly comfortable in your own skin and not giving a stuff about what anyone else might think.

When Australian diver Matthew Mitcham won gold in the 10-meter platform in Beijing, NBC Sports, the perennial broadcaster in the United States of the Olympic Games, failed to mention Mitcham's partner in the stands despite highlighting the partners of other straight athletes. Even worse, the network failed to mention that Mitcham was the only publicly out gay-male athlete at the Games.  Eight years later, nothing has changed at NBC. NBC failed to recognize Daley's fiancé during the 10 M Synchronized Platform Diving finals. Not boyfriend, not long-time friend... fiancé. And an Oscar-winning fiancé at that (read: public interest). They are, arguably, one of the "it" couple of the gay community, yet NBC didn't mention a word.

The Daily Beast is feeling the heat after publishing an article in which one of its heterosexual writers used Grindr, among other dating apps, to examine the dating and sex habits of Olympic athletes. Many were specifically concerned that Hines’s piece was outing athletes, especially those from countries like Russia and Jamaica where it’s dangerous for people to be openly LGBT.

Then there is the sexism.  They don’t make as much money as their counterparts of the opposite sex. They don’t receive as much TV airtime or media coverage. They don’t attract as many fans to arenas or as many followers on social media. This sounds like a typical gender inequality story in American sports except for one thing: In gymnastics, the men are less popular than the women. The thing is, I still want to see it. I still want to see our men compete, but maybe gymnastics for men isn't manly enough, but take one look at any of these gymnasts and tell me they don't have the body of a man. It takes tremendous strength and skill to compete in men's gymnastics. They are our boys and we should support them and NBC should cover more of their competitions.

Luckily, I live in a state that borders Canada, so I can watch the Olympics on CBC as an alternative to NBC. I'll have to watch more CBC and let you know if they are any better. Canada itself seems more open about sexuality and equality. Hopefully, CBC follows how the rest of the nation is.


Michael O'Sullivan said...

There was outrage here in the UK when the Daily Mail and other papers cropped Daley's partner Dan Goodfellow out of the photos, showing just Daley after winnning their Bronze. Dan's mother led the complaints with the comment that it takes two to do a synchronised dive!

Susan said...

A great post, Joe. This is very upsetting. I knew there was supposed to be additional diving from another platform because I have seen it at other Olympics, and I kept waiting for it to be shown. I am very disappointed NBC passed over it. Only once during the 10m platform diving when Tom Daley was up did the camera pan to Dustin in the stands, but there was no comment as to who they were showing or why.

I also watched what little of the men's gymnastics that has been on so far. But I had to record it because it was relegated to past 11pm. At best it was extremely piece-meal; nothing like the coverage of the women's event. And that is a shame, because from what I did see, our guys looked really good. I would have liked to have seen more of each of them perform on all the apparatuses. This weekend and Monday will be the men's indie events. Hopefully we will get to see more coverage then. And later in the week will be more men's diving to look forward to.

Btw, on a humorous note, I saw a news report this morning that throughout the entire final leg of last night's 200m-IM swim, the CBC announcer confused Phelps with Lochte until they hit the wall. :)

Anonymous said...

OK --- WHY is men's gymnastics less popular? Maybe because it's not shown???? Air time plays into popularity as well as getting younger people started in the sport.

Nikki said...

Infuriating that this still happens