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Gary Norris Gray BASN Staff ReporterOAKLAND, CA (BASN)—There has been an increase of media attacks on Black female athletes at the summer games, starting with Gold Medal Winner Gabby Douglass, who won the All Around Gymnastics Award and Sprinter LoLo Jones of the United States Olympic Team.
This is not a new phenomenon it has just resurfaced, even when the U.S. Female Olympic team members won half of the gold medals the United States earned in 2012. The Women’s Gymnastics team won gold, the Women’s Soccer team won gold, the Women’s Basketball team won gold, the Women’s Water Polo Team won gold and the Women’s Volleyball team won silver and the swim team won eight gold medals. It does not stop there but the two person Volleyball team won silver and gold. The attack happened when the USA track sprint team blew away their opponents on the field. The American media still found time to critizes certain members of the Female Olympic Team.
It should have been a time of celebration in the USA and the African American community.
These past two weeks should have been a time to celebrate greatness, celebrate speed, celebrate strength, and abilities. Instead a National television network, a group of African American women, and a New York Times writer threw cold water on the party. Not only that, it prevented these two fine athletes to unveil their true greatness.
It started with a network that broadcasted a monkey swinging on the Olympic gym rings and the Promotion of their new show “Animal Practice”. This was right after Gabby Douglass won the All-Around Gym Award. Then African American women started chattering on the various media networks about Gabby Douglas hair which was pulled back in a pony tail like the other participants. Stating, “Girl you have to clean up your hair”.
Wait a minute, this young woman left her home for five years, practiced for five hours a day, and won three gold medals for the United States of America while most of these chatting Black females were on the couch watching American Idol eating potato chips.
When are we (African Americans) going to learn to support each other through thick and thin, through good times and bad? This was one of those times Ms. Douglass needed undying Black support to finish the Olympic Gym routine.
Ms. Douglass went on to the individual apparatus to compete for more gold medals but the life had been sucked away the desire to win was gone. The brightness and life in her eyes had left her body she just went through the motions hoping for the best. Gabby fell off of the bar, the volt, and just did not look well. The criticisms from the African American women and the NBC Monkey affair happened to be too much for this young athletic pheonom to handle, too much for her to understand. All that she knew is that she was being critized for the very thing that she loved.
Now America think about what we missed, what we could have witnessed if Gabby Douglass performed up to her talented athletic skills.
Lolo Jones also had to deal with public criticism while participating in the Summer Games. What seemed like a personal attack by New York Times writer Jere Longman on August 5, 2012. He states that “Jones has received far greater publicity than any other American track and field athlete competing in the London Games. This was based not on achievement but on her exotic beauty and on a sad and cynical marketing campaign. Essentially, Jones has decided she will be whatever anyone wants her to be â€” vixen, virgin, victim â€” to draw attention to herself and the many products she endorses”.
Longman later writes that “Jonesposed nudefor ESPN the Magazine. This year, she appeared on thecover of Outside magazine seeming to wear a bathing suit made of nothing but strategically placed ribbon. At the same time, she has proclaimed herself to be a 30-year-old virgin and a Christian. And oh, by the way, a big fan of Tim Tebow”.
Mr. Longman seems to convenietly forgotten about the publicity of American Goalkeeper Hope Solo or and about gold medal swimmer Michael Phelps before the London games even started. What about racecar driver Danica Patrick who entered the winning circle once in her career and last week Patrick did not even make it around the first lap?
Longman is critical of Jones style of running and stated that she would never win in London. Jones stumbled on the last hurdle in Beijing China in 2008, with the lead. She has struggled the last four years but she made the 2012 team and was qualified to win the gold medal in London.
Longman was right Lolo Jones did not win. But it was…..
1) Very insensitive for the New York Times to publish this article before Jones ran the hurdles. The American news media should support all American athletes.
2) It seemed like a personal attack by Longman on Lolo Jones and other female athletes for taking advantage of the spoils given. Longman wants female athletes to be beauty queens and compete too. If these same females athletes take advantage of the American Neanderthals mind, they want to fry them at the stake. Mr. Longman you can’t have it both ways.
3) Comparing Lolo Jones to Anna Kournikova is not fair because Jones has won national and international titles. Kournikova was ranked number one in the tennis world without winning a major.
4) Until media reporters in the sports world stop the double standard of female athletes being sexualized this will continue. For example the two person beach volleyball matches with four young women wearing bikini bathing suits became the new rage of televised sports. Lolo Jones played by the rules and she gets slammed for it by this New York Times Reporter.
Unlike the NBC television network, the New York Times tried to rectify the situation when Public Editor- Art Brisbane, released the following statement…
“Ihave written in the past about problems that arise with this approach, which sometimes translates into too much opinion appearing in the news columns. In this particular case, I think the writer was particularly harsh, even unnecessarily so.
I queried the sports editor about it, and his response was that “One person’s harsh is another person’s tough minded,” and that the writer, “while acknowledging Jones’s accomplishment and qualities of perseverance and candor, thinks this female athlete fell short.”
I believe writers like Jere Longman, who does have a long and worthy track record at The Times, should have some room to express their hard-earned perspective. But this piece struck me as quite harsh and left me, along with others, wondering why the tone was so strong”.
The damage was done
Just like Gabby Douglass, the competitive spark left Lolo Jones body and she did not finish her race.
Participating in any sports the athlete has to maintain a positive state of mind. It is 10-15 % of winning on the track, gym, field, diamond, ice, or court. Gabby Douglass and Lolo Jones did not have a prayer when the media hoard and African American Women took away that precious 10-15 %. Maybe next time they will think about the person in question before they speak or write about them.
Thank You Gabby Douglass and Lolo Jones for representing the United States of American and doing your very best even under the circumstances. We are very proud of you and welcome back to America.
Â©Copyrighted Gary Norris Gray @ Gray Leopard Prod