During the second full day of action at the troubled 2016 Summer Olympics in Rio, I watched two teams of seven women each plowing into one another at full speed with bone-breaking force. After the first rugby contest was over, I watched female Italian archers hit bull’s-eye after bull’s-eye against their opponents. Before I started watching, the U.S. women’s basketball team scored the single highest margin of victory in Olympic history when they beat Senegal 121-56. During the next few weeks, more young women will be inspired by the athletic prowess of female athletes from all over the world, and more men will watch women’s athletics than on any other occasion since Sochi 2014. We even have our pantheon of American women heroes in the form of our soccer team, World Cup champions despite making half what their perennial round-of-16-exit counterparts on the men’s team. So why is the women’s athletic world still marginalized despite the leaps and bounds it has taken in recent years? The answer is bigger than any single politics column, but a very telling piece of it was made public shortly after the Olympic opening ceremony.
Last Friday evening, as Brazil celebrated the opening ceremony of the problematic 2016 Olympic Games with the kind of remarkable-but-not-thousands-of-chinese-drummers-performing-in-unison performance we’ve come to expect in a post-Beijing 2008 world, American women were too busy preparing meals and tidying themselves up, making sure their pearls were on straight before The Man of the House arrived home anxious for a week’s-end stew. At least, that’s what NBC executives were apparently thinking when they decided to continue the absurd tradition of placing the opening ceremony on a one-hour delay, bringing it to primetime and thus treating it as a TV show rather than a sporting event. By 7:30 p.m., American women, who watch the Olympics at a higher rate than their male counterparts, would have been finished scrubbing up the kitchen and ready to watch the utopian Olympic reality show while TMOTH scoffed from behind the Journal at Hoda Kotb’s gleeful dishing about the fashion choices of the national delegations and two-and-a-half children plus a dog curled up in front of the set (“Not too close, kids,” TMOTH says as he tamps down the tobacco in his pipe and draws a match from his cardigan pocket). Again, that seems to be the message NBC was sending.
I know, I’m being part of the media PC Police conspiracy. I should be ashamed. More people watch TV in primetime, and it’s as simple as that. I’m looking for places to yell about social justice and I’m stretching. I’m a bad male at best and an outright pussy at worst, just like the rest of the libtards. Except NBC’s Chief Marketing Officer, John Miller, seems to be on my side of the argument, even if he’s oblivious to the fact. “The people who watch the Olympics are not particularly sports fans. More women watch the games than men, and for the women, they’re less interested in the result and more interested in the journey. It’s sort of like the ultimate reality show and miniseries wrapped into one.” To be sure, condescending to women is a tried and true business strategy in America, and if it ain’t broke, one shouldn’t fiddle around with fixing it, but we should be able to do better as a society than thinking that women can’t appreciate athletic competition for what it is. The women representing their countries in rugby sevens certainly appreciate it—they bleed for their sport more than men like Miller ever bleed for their own successes.