When Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszú captured the gold (and a World Record) in the Women’s 400m Freestyle, audiences expected NBC’s production and commentators to lavish her with praise. This wasn’t an unreasonable expectation either. After a championship series or impressive athletic performance, reporters and analysts heap praise upon the victor.
But not for Hosszú. Instead of lingering on her expression of joy or breaking down what spectators just witnessed in the Olympic pool, NBC commentator Bill Hicks focused on her husband-coach instead. “There’s the man responsible for her victory,” he declared. His comment sparked a discussion about women and accomplishing their acknowledgments. To be fair, many sports productions do include coaches and their staffs in the post-game discussion. But the credit for the actual victory is normally placed on the players. When LeBron James and the Cavaliers brought a championship to Cleveland this past June, James received plenty of praise for his heroics. No one dared to hold coach Tyronn Lue up as the architect of the victory. Sure, he played a huge part, but the execution of the effort was completely on the players. Hosszú doesn’t “owe” her achievements to anyone but herself. Her victory is a testament to her growth as an athlete.
This isn’t an isolated mentality, either. Earlier this week, the Chicago Tribune tweeted a link to story about bronze medalist Corey Cogdell, referring to her as “wife of bears lineman” Mitch Unrein.
— Chicago Tribune (@chicagotribune) August 7, 2016
Reactions were swift:
— Laura Keeney (@LauraKeeney) August 8, 2016
@chicagotribune but what does her dad do? Or her brother? I need to know more about this Olympian’s male relatives!
— Eric Schulmiller (@WWHipster) August 7, 2016
This kind of commentary goes beyond the sports world as well. The morning after Hillary Clinton formally won the Democratic nomination, newspapers around the country ran a photo of her husband, Bill, alongside the historic headline. If you were a time traveler and saw one of these front pages, you could only assume that Bill Clinton won the 2016 Presidential nomination. Even though she wasn’t physically present that night, it wouldn’t have been unacceptable to print one of the many photographs of her.
Give credit where credit is due.