Abstract: Here are 10 Olympic headlines that, for a variety of reasons, seem out of place at the Summer Games.
The 2012 Summer Olympics have produced a number exciting headlines. Some of the athletes made the news by winning multiple medals. Other Olympians were media darlings because they overcame long odds just to make it to London. A few competitors became front page material when they failed to live up to pundits' expectations. We expect to see these types of stories appear in the news during the Olympic competitions. However, there are other story-lines that, for a variety of reasons, seem out of place at the Summer Games.
Here are 10 of these narratives:
1. Married but Living Apart: Before the Summer Games began, Australia's Olympic organization decided that two of its married athletes could not room together in the Olympic Village dormitories. The married couple did not take this decision well. The resulting brouhaha made the international headlines. This is probably not an Olympic story that most people would have expected to read about in the news.
2. The Wrong Flag: An untold amount of planning went into making the 2012 Summer Olympics a success. Even with all of this preparation, North Korea's women's soccer team, playing in its first match, was appalled to see the South Korean flag appear next to its players' photographs during the pregame introductions. The North Koreans refused to take the field until the problem was fixed. The snafu and subsequent team protest seem out of place somehow.
3. Gabby Douglas' Hair: The American gymnast won over Americans' hearts by claiming two gold medals in London. Apparently, she disappointed some fans because, of all things, her hair was not to their liking. It is amazing to think that some people would criticize Douglas for such a minor issue, especially given what she accomplished at the Summer Olympics.
4. "McKayla Is Not Impressed": A few moments after she claimed her silver medal in the women's vault competition, American gymnast McKayla Maroney was photographed looking disappointed. Someone digitally inserted this image into famous photos with the caption, "McKayla is not impressed." The images went viral. Maroney was probably not expecting her trip to the Olympics to yield that kind of fame.
5. Twitter Wars: Brandi Chastain, a soccer star turned NBC commentator, supposedly criticized a U.S. women's soccer player during one of NBC's telecasts. The squad's goalie, Hope Solo, took to Twitter to voice her displeasure with Chastain's remarks. Solo's Twitter comments made headlines, but should they have?
6. The Woman on Ryan Lochte's Lap: U.S. swimmer Ryan Lochte won five medals at the 2012 Summer Olympics. Some of the storylines rightly focused on this worthy achievement. However, other media outlets were more interested in figuring out the identity of the woman sitting on Lochte's lap on a ride back from a bar. They were probably disappointed to learn that she was the swimming star's sister.
7. Poor Choice of Words: The U.S. women's soccer team won the gold medal by beating Japan. Immediately after the game, the players put on Nike T-shirts emblazoned with the words, "Greatness Has Been Found." Many people in the media criticized this decision. They argued that the slogan on the T-shirts demeaned other teams, and therefore did not conform to the ideal of sportsmanship espoused by the International Olympic Committee.
8. Was It Cheating?: Many Olympics fans were shocked to learn that four women's badminton teams had been disqualified for intentionally trying to give away one of their matches. The athletes may have been justified in attempting to throw their contests, especially if doing so would have given them a better chance of winning a medal. Nonetheless, their actions seemed to go against the Olympic ideal of fair play.
9. The Best Athlete Ever: Jamaican Usain Bolt made history at the 2012 Summer Olympics by winning back-to-back gold medals in both the 100- meter and 200-meter events. He followed those victories up by proclaiming himself the best athlete in history. Even if he were correct, Bolt's proclamation could be seen as an act of poor sportsmanship, which is not in keeping with Olympic ideals.
10. Missing Cameroon Olympians: Seven Cameroon athletes left their country's Olympic team without notice. Some media reports contend that the athletes are attempting to defect from Cameroon to England (or some other country in Europe) in order to secure good paying jobs. That fact may come as a shock to people who do not realize that some Olympic athletes live in poverty.
-- Anthony Hopper
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