Welcome to Day 2 of our Best of 2016 (wherein we pretend good things happened in 2016). But seriously, on our very short list of great things about 2016, the summer Olympics are near the top. As always, we were inspired and amazed for two weeks and became mega-fans of athletes we hadn’t even heard of weeks before. But 2016 had to be 2016, so there was still some weird sexism stuff, because of course there is. Our reaction: the Margaret Abbott Awards, highlighting baffling treatment of female olympians (and named in honor of first female ‘medalist,’ Margaret Abbott. And yes, medalist is in quotes because they gave her a bowl instead).
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Dan ‘He’s Responsible’ Hicks
Longtime NBC commentator Dan Hicks hit headlines after the 400m individual medley in swimming, when Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu won the gold but also shattered the previous world record. During the program, he noted that Katinka’s husband and coach, Shane Tusup is “the man responsible” for making his wife the swimming champion she is today. Viewers were quick to take note of Dan’s wording, because, homegirl just killed it in the pool, yet this dry dude on the sidelines is “responsible” for the gold medal? OK. Dan Hicks later clarified his comments, saying, “It is impossible to tell Katinka’s story accurately without giving appropriate credit to Shane, and that’s what I was trying to do.”
There’s also more of a backstory with this couple, because apparently Shane’s poolside enthusiasm can turn scary, with other swimmers noting his extreme anger, calling it “inappropriate” and “not OK”. But again, Dan Hicks has an interesting view on his hard love, “It’s been a little disturbing to some of the other swimmers who have observed it,” he said on-air, according to the AP. “But he has turned her into a tiger in the pool.”
Dan Hicks is awarded… The GOLDEN ABBIE
Perfect for: The blood, sweat, and tears of Katinka, Shane Tusup in mini-form to stay afloat for all eternity
Katie Ledecky, 19 years old, won four gold medals and a silver in the 2016 Olympics. She set a world record for the 400-meter freestyle … then she broke it herself. She finished the 800-meter freestyle so quickly that she had 11 seconds to cool her heels before the silver medalist even reached the wall. All of this is enough for the Daily Mail to name Ledecky the “female Michael Phelps.” For its part, NBC commentator Rowdy Gaines remarked that “some people say she swims like a man” before telling us why that’s false. Few things here:
A.) “Some people say” is a tired vehicle for introducing opinions a journalist or commentator doesn’t want to own (see also: “some people say women aren’t funny” in any interview with a female comedian).
B.) “Some people” need to stop saying a woman does something “like a man” when she does it well. Clearly Katie Ledecky swims like a woman since she, you know, is one.
These Male Rita Skeeters are awarded… The SILVER ABBIE
Perfect for: Serving alphabet soup so they can figuratively eat their words.