The Olympics in a Nutshell
The green water has been drained and Ryan Lochte has been apprehended, but what, in the larger picture, have we learned?
By Jill Phelan, St. Vincent College
With the Olympic games having come to a close this past weekend, athletes and sports fans (“pseudo sports experts,” would be a more apt description) alike are coming down from their patriotic highs.
So as you all wash the red, white and blue paint off your skin, here are five takeaways to think about from this year’s Rio Olympics.
1. Seriously, Sexism isn’t Cool
One of the most talked about issues from the recent summer games has been the slew of sexist comments by commentators, news outlets and fans.
I didn’t even realize how bad the situation was until I read a list of all the sexist moments from the Olympics. On average, there was more than one occurrence per day for the span of the games.
I’ll admit that some of the remarks in question are a little more arguable than others, but most of them are hard to deny. I found myself laughing out loud at the sheer misogyny of more than a few of them.
Overall, it was quite pathetic, but it highlighted a real problem with today’s societal standards. I myself don’t even associate as a feminist, but I do recognize that there exists a level of female discrimination embedded in the modern attitude. Sometimes it’s almost too subtle to recognize, but it’s present nonetheless.
Unlike most feminists nowadays, I don’t get enraged by the sexist comments of reporters. Instead, I’m saddened. When I read the aforementioned list of belittling moments, I pitied the people who made the remarks—not because I thought they were right (they weren’t), but because sexism has permeated the very language and thought process Americans use today.
So it’s casual discrimination at its finest, slipping into the subconscious and wreaking havoc with ease. Fortunately, I think if people keep speaking out against sexist comments, the media and its followers will think more consciously before opening their mouths.
Even though the US citizens might be sexist at times, at least the American mindset is heading in the right direction.
2. Who Run the World? Girls!
Speaking of women, the female half of Team USA reigned supreme at the Olympics this summer.
This year, American female athletes were winning medals left and right, especially in events that the United States has never won before—like Michelle Carter, who earned a gold medal in shot put for the first time in US history.
Altogether, the women won 27 gold medals in Brazil (and that’s not even looking at silver and bronze!)—whereas the men only won 18 by comparison.
Personally, I think the victories for these women during this past Olympics is a true testament to two things: 1) empowered females pursuing their goals and achieving them to the fullest and 2) an American system that tries to promote equality, as exemplified through its athletic programs.
Keep it up, girls!
3. Don’t Forget: Rio Is Still Sketchy
Even though the media did their best convince the world that Rio de Janero is a tropical paradise, I still wouldn’t recommend booking your next vacation there. Don’t let the clever marketing gods fool you into thinking that the South American city is anything less than dangerous.
While Ryan Lochte and his fellow US swimmers may not have been robbed in Rio, Americans had no trouble believing it could have been possible.
The situation was so plausible, in fact, that an athlete from Great Britain actually was held up not even a week after Lochte’s supposed incident.
I believe the word you’re looking for is “yikes”—or “jeepers,” whichever floats your boat.
And since I’m on the topic of sailing, I’ll touch on the city’s water situation. News flash: It’s still disgusting, so much so that Olympic swimmers and sailors were at risk of contracting a disease with one mouthful.
In one of the events I watched, I even overheard the announcers say that the athletes were expected to be taking tons of pills and immune boosters in preparation for wading into the nasty waters. I mean, on the bright side, I’m guessing they didn’t have to worry much about hazardous sea creatures, considering they were probably all poisoned to death.
But the list of deadly threats doesn’t end there. The Zika virus is still running rampant down south (as if mosquitos alone weren’t bad enough, they had to start carrying around death certificates like the Grim Reaper).
Some athletes were so concerned that they decided to turn down the opportunity to compete in the games altogether. You literally couldn’t pay them to go. A (short) lifetime of fame and fortune just weren’t worth it for them.
So yeah, moral of the story: Opt for a vacation to Italy instead.
4. Home Field Advantage Is No Joke
Brazil’s spirits were higher than ever this summer, despite the fear of sickness and demise looming in everyone else’s minds.
As a country, their sense of pride and enthusiasm was electric. It was no surprise, then, that people were speculating whether or not Brazil would benefit from the home field advantage. History shows that most countries do significantly better in their host year, so a boost in wins wouldn’t have been surprising for Brazil this time around.
I think it’s safe to say that the citizens’ level of excitement and patriotism definitely ensured a successful Olympics for the South American country.
While they may not have had impressive results like China in 2008 and Great Britain in 2012, this year was still Brazil’s best summer games to date. If nothing else, the love and support of the locals certainly didn’t hurt their chances at victory.
5. USA Dominates, Yo
Not only did the US women slay at Rio this year, but the United Stated in general obliterated the competition (as usual). Obviously, Michael Phelps was a big proponent in the victories, but there were still 115 medals won by other American athletes.
In addition, there were several countries represented by people who attend US colleges—who were trained right here on American turf by American coaches. So if you were to count the medals won by those competitors, then the United States would basically just win the whole thing.
All in all, USA is the best—need I say more?