The Coverage They Deserve

At which Olympic trial event would you expect to find makeup demonstrations and nail art? Ridiculous question? Sure is, but the fact is, you’ll find exactly that at the Women’s Olympic Gymnastics Team Trials in San Jose this week. No wonder gymnasts are disgusted by the coverage their event receives.

NPR recently reported about the sexism and dismissiveness in reporting on women’s gymnastics. But when Cover Girl shows up at your events to do demos for fans, what do you expect? We continue to associate women with their appearance, so it’s no wonder reporters talk about them as if they were cute little girls.

Yes, Cover Girl will be at the Trials in San Jose, along with other sponsors, and their focus will be on appearance as their products are designed for that purpose. Were they at the women’s swimming trials in Nebraska? Or maybe the women’s triathlon trials? Why the assumption that this is acceptable regarding women’s gymnastics?

Female athletes already face an uphill battle, and are some of the strongest, most graceful and determined athletes there are, especially in gymnastics. Most Olympic qualifiers have trained their whole lives to make it to the Games; that speaks volumes regarding their commitment, training regimen, and skill. Why cover that up with foundation and polish? Let the true athlete be seen for what she is: a champion who works through pain and injury, sacrifices many “normal” activities for her dream, and stays committed to a long-term goal.

Let’s insist that reporting cease to focus on the cute little girls and shift its lexicon to reflect the athletic prowess and accomplishments of these women who give so much to a phenomenal sport.