Biles Handles the Media

Biles 2In addition to winning an Olympic gold medal for gymnastics, Simone Biles made headlines for handling two difficult situations beautifully. 

Tired of hearing some media coverage for the games, Biles shot back, "I'm not the next Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. I'm the first Simone Biles." An article in The Atlantic called NBC's coverage of the Olympics:

The coverage of women's gymnastics has a long tradition of emphasizing the contrasts of its competitors: traditional girlishness on the one hand, traditionally masculine qualities-"power" chief among them-on the other. And NBC's gymnastics commentators (under a mandate from NBC to address themselves to a notional "Madeleine in Middle America, who doesn't know gymnastics") have reveled in those easy contradictions. Biles stands, they have emphasized, at only 4 feet, 8 inches tall. She giggles a lot. A promotional package NBC aired during Rio's women's gymnastics qualifying round featured Biles's parents talking about her love for shopping. It also showed her getting a manicure.

The article went on to say it was as though NBC were saying, "Look at that girl do all that! She's powerful like Michael Phelps, but a girl!." Biles

In another incident drawing attention to her (and needing her attention to clear things up), an NBC commentator, Al Trautwig, referred to her parents as Biles's grandfather and his wife. The couple legally adopted and raised Simone. Trautwig repeated his position on social media.

Biles simply said, "I personally don't have a comment. My parents are my parents, and that's it."

Image source.

Discussion Starters: 

  • Biles is getting a crash course in media attention. Do you agree with my assessment that she's handling it well? What else can she do? 
  • Read The Atlantic article about NBC's portrayal of women and the Olympics. Do you agree with the author's criticism? What rings true for you, and what doesn't?