Things We Learned from Rio

The Olympics are over and everything is the worst. (Or: how I felt this A.M. upon turning the TV on and realizing nothing in the world was on and that morning talk shows don’t cut it.)

And with Rio 2016 having come to a close, we have all learned some valuable lessons. Mainly: we have learned what not to do. So with knowledge in mind, here’s what I think are some of the biggest takeaways.

1) Remember that female athletes are actually just athletes
I mean, I went into the Olympics believing we all truly understood this, but imagine my horror when I realized I was very wrong and it turns out that only about four journalists in the world were on the same page. So we’ll keep this simple: remember that “female athletes” are actually just “athletes.” So when describing them, we don’t need to mention their husbands or their outfits or their partners or anything that has nothing to do with the sport they’re participating in. You know when women are described as “female musicians”? Yeah, it sucks. They’re “musicians,” right? Right. So the same rule applies to athletes. And if you wouldn’t ask Michael Phelps the question, do not pose it to Katie Ledecky.

2) Speaking of Michael Phelps: dude is intense AF
Like, I was not aware until we saw him warming up in his robe and then disrobing said robe to reveal all those cup scars. (Scars? Bruises? I don’t care, they scared me.) This is how weird supervillain stories begin in comics. When Michael Phelps challenges Ben Affleck-as-Batman to some battle for world domination, we can say it started here.

3) Ryan Lochte is White Male Privilege personified (and no one is shocked)
Human Water Bottle Ryan Lochte lied about being held up at gun point after vandalizing a gas station washroom (or something) and spurred an international incident. Great! Especially since the Olympic committee LOL’d and said, “boys will be boys!” mere days after our Lord and Saviour Gabby Douglas got dragged for not putting her hand over her heart during the American national anthem.

So in short: Ryan Lochte — who is in his 30s — is a “boy” (specifically the one you went to high school with whose football hookups meant he didn’t need to hand in essays on time) who can do no wrong (see: white male privilege) and Gabby Douglas, a human woman who won her country gold medals, is The Worst (not even close) for not doing a thing I didn’t even know people did. (Have you ever put your hand over your heart? Is that a thing? Is that a thing I need to make room for in my brain? Because I thought you just had to stand up straight and be quiet like a regular person.)

4) Simone Biles is the superhero we need and deserve right now
Like I did not give a shit about superheroes until Simone Biles showed up and basically said, “Care about superheroes because I am one.” Cool.

5) We really needed the Olympics and now they’re gone and the world is sad
And I say that because we’re all smart and know that nationalist rhetoric is dangerous, but when it comes to people who have worked so hard to make their dreams come true and then succeed, I care so much. We all care so much. Guys, it was so cool that for two weeks we just watched people who work hard WORK HARD. Like, did any of you even care about how many medals we got? Of course not, because when you watch human beings who have worked their entire lives to get to a specific point get to that point, it honestly doesn’t matter who does and doesn’t place. I just wanted to watch athletes run and jump and dive and do their best. We all did! That’s why now, with nothing but the garbage fire of the American election to keep us warm, the world feels bleak.

At least it’s only about a year and a half until the winter games. Where we can hopefully keep lesson number one in mind. I beg you. Please.

Live, love, laugh.

Tags: Anne T. Donahue, topstory

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