The Wall Street Journal wrote an article the other day about how our male gymnasts WANT to be objectified. So I’m really just giving them what they want.
The premise of the piece is that men’s gymnastics is not nearly as popular as the women’s division, and while there is no overlooking the fact that this is because the men’s team is also not nearly as TALENTED, I like Sam Mikulak’s quote anyway:
“Maybe compete with our shirts off,” said U.S. star Sam Mikulak, the four-time, reigning all-around national champion. “People make fun of us for wearing tights. But if they saw how yoked we are maybe that would make a difference.”
Ergo: Look how yoked they are.
P.S. I knew as soon as NBC kept showing swim semis, and not the advertised gymnastics, that the men’s team had gone splat. But I’m hugely bothered for them, their families, their communities, and sports fans like me that NBC decided not to bother with them once they didn’t make the podium. They worked just as hard as any other team to get to Rio, so I’d have liked to support them in good times and in bad; furthermore, the competition was actually EXTREMELY tense and included one team quitting and two others in a hot battle for gold. NBC has gone on-record as saying women don’t care about the results of sports; they just want sob stories and drama. Well, up yours for that nasty, backward bit of sexism, NBC.
I don’t say this often, but: Learn from ESPN. When they decide not to show a scheduled event, they kick it down to ESPN2 or ESPNU and tell you about it. NBC has made a huge deal out of how many THOUSANDS of hours of Olympics coverage they are theoretically offering, and across how many different TV channels in the NBC Uni family, and yet NONE of them had space for the men’s competition? Streaming live is not an option for most people, so once USA’s scheduled coverage is done, boot the Law & Order marathons for three hours and let the gymnastics breathe there, if you ABSOLUTELY MUST evict it. Don’t just be gross and act like primetime only belongs to those who bring home spoils. How about human interest? How about the wonderful, heartening pep talk our guys gave to each other after the roughest night of their gymnastics lives? How about the lesson for our watching kids that class and sportsmanship and never-say-die are as much part of the Olympic spirit as winning? Shame on you, NBC. You’re not here for the athletes, you’re here for the dollars. We always knew it, but now it’s tattooed on your legacy.