Originally published on August 10, 2016
If John Oliver’s rundown of the Opening Ceremony for the Rio de Janeiro Olympics was any indication, the sports commentators for NBC and ESPN are not exactly doing the best they otherwise could be doing at covering the games. From insensitive remarks towards gymnast Simone Biles’ parents, to the questionably sexist coverage when it comes to the female athletes, it’s an ongoing domino effect of one mistake after another.
Just to make the face palm-worthy picture even more crystal clear, fellow contributor Dominic recently discussed how the sports commentators have even been failing in the department of discussing the Asian athletes; often going for describing them as “mysterious” and “robots.” It’s an ongoing series of events that you may find yourself thinking: There’s bound to be an end in sight.
Call me optimistic, for I hope I’m being realistic when I say that these commentators should start to seriously reconsider how they do their coverage of the Olympics sooner than later, especially when it comes to their discussion of Asian athletes. It may be barely a week into the Rio Olympics, but I’m already looking ahead at the next Olympic games. Why you ask? Because the next three Olympic games (both summer and winter) are all going to be held in Asia!
The 2018 Winter Olympics will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea, the 2020 Summer Olympics will be held in Tokyo, Japan, and the 2022 Winter Olympics will be held in Beijing, China. That’s four years’ worth of coverage of the Olympics all held in one continent, and the first one is happening in 18 months!
If anything, I hope that is more than enough time for these commentators to prepare themselves. My advice for them: Educate yourself! Learn about the history and culture of each nation and city each of the games are going to be held in. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, but be ready to listen actively and learn. Don’t make stupid jokes or side remarks for the sake of your ignorance. Above all else, drop the sheet of mysteriousness already and provide a human outlook on these countries and their people!
It’s basic common sense, especially if your occupation is as a journalist. But because this world is far from perfect, consider this a refresher. Of course, this goes for any city and nation chosen for the prestigious honor of hosting the Olympics, but quite frankly, despite the games being held in Beijing, China barely a decade ago, these commentators still aren’t getting it when it comes to Asian athletes.
Don’t you think it’s long past time for that to change? No pressure NBC and ESPN, but the world is watching.