Imagine working toward a goal for years, maybe even your entire life. Then, when you’re on the world’s biggest stage, you see your dreams crumble. Now, imagine someone sticking a microphone and camera in your face before you can truly process what just happened. Many Olympians don’t have to imagine what this is like. It is their reality. Even those who take home the gold feel the pressure during interviews. US swimmer Simone Manuel knows all about this. Frankly, the two-time gold medalist is fed up with how the media treats athletes who have just experienced a crushing loss.
Simone Manuel is no stranger to disappointment. She dominated the 2016 Rio Olympics. That year, she became the first Black woman to win an individual Olympic gold medal for swimming. She also set an Olympic record as well as an American record during those games. However, she came up short in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. For instance, she won the gold in the 100-meter freestyle in 2016. However, she failed to qualify for the event in Tokyo. At the same time, she didn’t reach the 50-meter freestyle finals. However, she took home the silver medal for the event in 2016.
Yesterday, Simone Manuel took to Twitter to discuss her feelings about the way the media treats athletes after a “disappointing performance,” in a string of tweets.
Simone Manuel Opens Up About the Media
To kick off her rant, Simone Manuel said, “Please stop interviewing athletes right after a disappointing performance before they have any time to process anything. Trust me. They gave it their all. Nothing else people need to know at that time.”
Manuel makes a strong point. There is no denying that athletes give their all every time they compete. However, being at the Olympics takes that competitive spirit to a whole new level.
Simone Manuel went on to address the lack of empathy for athletes, calling it problematic. She also said, “The amount of people who say we’re just sore losers or that we are ‘obligated’ to do the interviews is problematic.” At the same time, Manuel notes that she understands the role of the media. She studied communications in college and took multiple journalism classes. So, she knows both sides of the interview process.
As an athlete, Simone Manuel says that she’s “hyper-aware,” of how the media’s role can be improved for the greater good. Manuel says that journalists should be trained to deal with athletes, especially after a disappointing performance. She adds that the training should teach journalists to look at athletes as humans with emotions. She wrote, “It’s mentally and emotionally exhausting to coherently answer questions while trying to process the fact that people already saw you fall short of the goals you worked so hard for on the world’s biggest stage.”
Simone Manuel went on to say that much of an Olympian’s life is public knowledge. However, not all of their emotions should be on public display. After all, she notes, “It’s not on public display when someone gets fired from a job or fails a test. As athletes, we aren’t obligated to give people all of our soul.”