Tuesday, May 2, 2017

**Female Athletes: More Than Their Relationships*

    The Chicago Tribune's writer Tim Bannon posted an article about a two time bronze medal winner in Olympic Trap Shooting. In this article, they referred to her as “Corey Cogdell-Unrein, the wife of Bears lineman Mitch Unrein, won the bronze medal in women’s trap shooting Sunday.” Bannon did mention that she’s a two time winner, they did not mention her training and all the work it took to make into the Olympic Event. He did not recognize her as a champion or winner, they classified her as the wife of an NFL player. Heaven forbid a woman actually gets recognized as something other than wife, sister, family member, or anything other than her athletic title. Bannon seemed to steer the article from Cogdell- Unrein to her husband Mitch Unrein, and how he fit into her work. They often refer to his football career instead of Cogdell-Unrein, such as mentioning it is his bye week, slipping in a little statistics of the recent games. Soon after, The Chicago Tribune also made a tweet, where they didn’t refer to her by her name, but by her marital status. After the tweet, they attached their website and the link to this article.


It is disheartening for me as a female athlete to see how easily we are brushed aside and addressed as a family member instead of who we truly are. We are athletes, yes, some may be wives of other athletes, or maybe the sister or the daughter of another athlete, but that doesn’t mean we can be brushed off as just that. We are hard workers, we are dedicated to our sports, we train relentlessly, we don't do this to not be recognized. When people disregard us, it is defeating, it is disappointing, it is irritating that after all these years, after all this hard work, we aren’t recognized for who we truly are. When I was in my freshman year of high school, a lot of the time I was referred to as “the girlfriend of a football player.” No one ever really mentioned that I was the JV catcher/pitcher. No one ever mentioned the struggle I go through everyday to play the sport I love.


Just as Cogdell-Unrein was not recognized a two-time winning bronze medalist in the Olympics for trap shooting. It does not mention the training, it does not mention the dedication to take trap shooting to Olympics, it does not refer to her as an athlete. They do not make her sound as if she is an independant woman who can do things, such as compete in the Rio Olympics, they do not make her sound successful in her headlines as they would Usain Bolt. They do not make her an individual woman in her headlines, they make her sound second best, they make her sound as if the greatest thing in her life is her husband and that’s all that she is. Bannon does not illustrate her as an individual, but as a sidekick, for lack of a better word.


Cogdell-Unrein is not the only female athlete that has been brushed aside. There are many female athletes that are not recognized to their true potential, for who they are. In this article published by the HuffPost, they are discussing another article about how multiple headlines from the 2016 Rio de Janeiro were sexist and leaning towards the men’s victories, rather the womans’. They have a photo of a newspaper clipping about Michael Phelps and Katie Ledecky and their finish in the Olympics, written by Paul Newberry. Michael Phelps’ victory is printed in bold and noticeably larger font than Katie Ledecky’s win. Her font is not larger, it is in fact much smaller, it is also not in bold print, it is a regular font, easily overlooked if you’re not actually reading the article. "Ledecky sets the world record in the women’s 800 freestyle." She goes fairly unrecognized and looked over compared to Phelps’ winning the silver medal.


Here is yet another sexist moment from the 2016 Rio olympics. Instead of giving Katinka Hosszú the credit she deserved for her performance in Olympic swimming, they give the credit to her husband, saying he is the man responsible for her win. Her husband is not responsible for her win, she is responsible for her win, she was in the water, she did the training, she did the work, she broke the world record, not her husband. For NBC to tell the world that her husband did all the hard work is extremely disrespectful and sexist. They would rather give a man the credit than the actual athlete. If you ask NBC or The Chicago Tribune, they will deny all sexist remarks, they will claim that they broadcast and write about everyone equally, but the fact of the matter is that they don’t publish equally. After shining some light on these three articles and providing multiple reasons why their prints are sexist, I would hope that NBC, The Chicago Tribune, and Newberry will reconsider their words and choices when it comes to writing about female athletes, versus male athletes and their accomplishments. Woman are made to sound as if we are not individual athletes’, instead, we are portrayed as reliant upon our significant others’.

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