Olympians Are People Too, I Suspect

Posted on: Friday, August 3, 2012

I woke up this morning and hopped on to my usual social media sites- you know, getting the news of the day in the most reliable way. I'm not sure what it was about this morning's round of tweets, but something hit me that I didn't like. It wasn't my cat sling-shotting at me from across the room.

It seems like our first reaction to these world-class Olympic athletes, after excitement and genuine pride in their talent and success at representing our country, is to completely tear them apart and bring them down. I noticed since the opening ceremonies I'd really just seen two kind of tweets and comments. Those that say "Yayy, hooray! AMERICA! Phelps! Fab Five!" and those that say "Why is she always crying? Why is his face like that? What's with her hair clips? Ugh, that outfit!" 

The ones that had me baffled and frustrated the most are comments on displays of emotion. Why is that gymnast who just lost her opportunity at a gold medal, because she herself and alone messed up her routine, crying? Do you really wonder that? It seems pretty obvious to me why one might cry in that situation. And those are just the obvious, top layer reasons. Being watched by millions of people. Stress. Feeling like she let down others aside from herself- her trainers, family and her country. She's proud of how far she came. Happy she made it to the podium. An opportunity for the gold lost. She's tired. She didn't win and I'd venture to guess that she really really wanted to. Any one of these is reason enough to shed some tears at any point in this process.

And yet we criticize and critique this young girl (who is, let me remind you, AN OLYMPIC ATHLETE) for showing emotion. For crying too much. For looking like she's going to cry. For not smiling. For looking stressed. For being too stern. For not crying. For smiling. For being human and reacting like one.

We watch as we sit on the couch and critique away their humanity. Why do we do it? I guess for the same reason we obsess over and are so mean towards other celebrities. People put themselves out there for doing what they love and being really good at it (the Kardashians and Kristen Stewart excluded) and we judge them, good and bad, fair or unfair. I do it too (see above), so chill out if you were just thinking well wait a minute here missy! We critique because it's something to do. We feel- hey they're on TV they have it coming. We like to find faults in presented perfection. We just don't like them or that hairstyle or that outfit that makes them look like a futuristic hobo. We try to make ourselves feel better about our own lives (I do believe that's what "Teen Mom" is for. That and birth control.). We do it because it's funny. Maybe we do it simply to make them seem more human and less like untouchable gods and goddesses of their craft. Knock 'em down a peg and forget that we would love to leave our lives and be them for even just a day.

I guess we do it because we too are humans, and it is just one of the things humans do. It's not something new and not something that will ever come to a stop; certainly not something anyone would run a campaign around (just leave those poor, talented, rich people alone already!). It's good to hold people to high standards, as long as we remember they're still people. We all are judged, probably any time we leave our house, we just don't usually become a major trending topic on twitter. Doesn't mean we can't all try to be a little nicer, more understanding, and more forgiving of the minor faults we see in ourselves and others.

-Mrs. M


  1. I haven't been able to follow the Olympics this year (no NBC in Dominica) but this shocks me! Of course this girl is upset! I never really thought about what "good sports" the athletes are till now. I would be a wreck!


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