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The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

The Saratoga Falcon

Columnists: Double standards for female athletes made obvious at Rio

“Wife of Bears lineman Mitch Unrein wins bronze in Rio.”

The Chicago Tribune felt the need to reinforce to their readers that this athlete, American Olympic trap shooter Corey Cogdell, was the “wife of a Bears’ lineman.” Although it has since been fixed, the newspaper originally didn’t even honor Cogdell by her name in the headline celebrating her bronze medal.

It is so simple to explain this away: Surely, the Tribune was just providing a means of identifying the athlete by her well-known husband.

Of course, almost every instance of blatant sexism can be explained away as a fluke, but we need to step back and see the bigger picture: There are double standards in the way that we as a society treat female athletes, and the 2016 Olympics has had too many red flags to ignore.

The Tribune article goes on to discuss the relationship between Cogdell and her husband, after only briefly mentioning that she had won a bronze medal. It doesn’t discuss how the race went or how Cogdell prepared herself for what was arguably the most important race of her career. And while it skims through what the race meant to her, it instead gives us more information about how supportive her husband was.

When Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu won gold in the 400m individual medley, NBC called her husband “the man responsible” not 2 minutes after it was announced that she had broken the world record. When American swimmer Katie Ledecky took home the gold in the 400m freestyle, The Daily Mail dubbed her “the female Michael Phelps.” Due to backlash, the headline of the article has since been changed, but the article itself still uses the phrase.

It is so easy to dismiss these events as compliments, especially in Ledecky’s case. Phelps is considered the greatest swimmer of all time, and to be compared to him is high praise.

But when BBC presenter John Inverdale casually told male athlete Andy Murray that he was the first tennis player to win two consecutive Olympic gold medals, Inverdale casually ignored the fact that “Venus and Serena [Williams] have won about four each,” in Murray’s own words.

These incidences are not isolated, nor are they flukes. And women are getting more than just discredited for their own achievements.

Fox News anchors Bo Dietl and Mark Simone asserted that female athletes should wear more makeup when they go on TV, especially because those athletes’ main purpose at the Olympics can be summed up with two words: “product endorsements.”

“When you see an athlete, why should you have to look at some chick's zits?" Dietl said. "I like to see a person that wins that gold medal go up there and look beautiful.”

It should go without saying how utterly stupid these statements are. Not only do they undermine the hard work and ultimate success of these athletes — whether they are male or female — but they also unfairly assume that the athletes compete for someone other than themselves.

Other situations presented at Rio revealed even more double standards. When American gymnast Gabby Douglas didn’t put her hand over her heart during the national anthem, she was heavily criticized over social media and even tried to issue an apology for the supposed faux pas. Some may argue that the criticism had nothing to do with her gender — or race.

The fact remains that male shot put athletes Joe Kovac and Ryan Crouser were guilty of the same “crime” when they stood with their hands at their sides during the national anthem after they won silver and gold, respectively. They didn’t receive any criticism near what Douglas suffered.

It’s time to stop with the excuses. Naturally, sexism won’t stop any time soon, but we, as a society, need to actively call out the actions of those who perpetuate it.

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