Contrary to local news, Aly Raisman isn’t the only Massachusetts Olympian
There are thirteen Olympians from the Commonwealth of Massachusetts competing in the 2012 Olympics currently being held in London. Of those, only two of them come from outside the Boston area, cyclist Shelley Olds who hails from Groton and wrestler Elena Pirozhkova who comes from Greenfield.
Reading who from Massachusetts was competing was shocking to me, and it was not because of the number of athletes from this state that are competing in the Olympics. In fact, when I looked it up I was more relieved than anything. For such a populous state, it seemed odd that only one athlete from Massachusetts was competing in London.
And I say that because for the longest time, I thought gymnast Aly Raisman from Needham was the only resident of Massachusetts that was competing in the Olympics.
Partially, that is my own fault. I didn’t take the time to look it up and see who from the state is competing and just assumed that local news affiliates would report when athletes from the Commonwealth were competing and clued me into when they were competing. Granted, I likely would never have watched most of them compete because many are in sports I have no interest in ever watching, but it still would have been nice to know when those from my home-state were competing and how they did.
Which I guess isn’t my own fault because, truthfully, I wouldn’t watch some of these events. Hell, I’ve really only actively watched four events (Men’s Basketball, Men’s Tennis, Swimming, Track and Field) and dabbled in a few others (volleyball, handball, beach volleyball) during this Olympic cycle. To this, I can point to those same local news affiliates whose job it is to report on the news with a local spin to it.
According to all the news teams, the only Massachusetts Olympian competing is Aly Raisman which is simply a slight to all the other Olympians from Massachusetts.
I certainly get the reasons for it. Gymnastics is one of the big sports at the summer Olympics and Raisman is one of its biggest starts and she happens to be from Massachusetts.It helps that she is a cute girl and everyone loves rooting for a cute girl and that Gymnastics is one of those cycle sports that most Americans only care about when it is blasted into our faces every couple of years like how the World Cup is for soccer. The local news affiliates are certainly only promoting stories that they feel will drive in viewers to come scurrying to their television sets to watch the local news. I study marketing, it makes perfect sense from a marketing standpoint of things.
It’s just that it feels disrespectful in a way to the rest of the Olympians from this state. It reached a climax for me when 7-News (the NBC affiliate here so of course, the network that is going to get the ratings anyway because the Olympics are on their channel) promoted the nightly news with something along the lines of “Catch the Olympic stories here that you won’t get anywhere else”. Seconds later, they played a segment from an interview they had with Raisman’s parents. Now, I’m sure the Raisman’s are nice people, but come on Channel 7. Every other news network here has talked with the Raisman’s at some point. It’s not really an “exclusive” story at this point.
This promo for the news came up during this weekend, a few days after Kayla Harrison took home the first gold medal in judo by any American, ever. She was on the pregame show for the United States basketball game against Nigeria and looked as giddy as anyone I have ever seen sitting in a studio show. For one, the Wakefield resident (who I had just learned was a Massachusetts native hours before that via Twitter) was only hours removed from winning her gold medal which she had displayed proudly around her chest. For the other thing, she was sitting right next to Boston Celtics head coach Doc Rivers. How’s that for a crazy 24-hour span? She just completed a dream for any athlete, winning a gold medal in her discipline at the Olympics followed by the head coach of one of her favorite teams tell her how impressed he was with her.
If they were looking for a story, it isn’t a hard one to find. Harrison’s first trainer in judo, Daniel Doyle, was convicted of sexually abusing her and sentenced to ten years in prison. It is impossible to imagine how Kayla Harrison came back into judo after such a horrific childhood around the sport, and yet, there she was sitting there at the desk of NBC Sports Network, with the biggest smile on her face, being promised whatever, whenever from the Boston Celtics from one of the most popular men in the city of Boston. That’s a turnaround if I have ever seen one.
Those two aren’t the only Olympic stories with Massachusetts ties. Take Dorian McMenemy, a Sophomore at the same high-school I graduated from, Algonquin Regional in Northborough. Again, she is a a sophomore at the same high-school I graduated from. She is 15 years old and just finished competing as a swimmer for her mother’s Dominican Republic. In the August when I was 15, I was just trying to survive not getting yelled at during my shifts at the Chart Room and doing training camp for a terrible football team.
There is Shalane Flanagan, a marathoner from Marblehead who has already captured Olympic bronze before and at 31 is competing in the marathon again, hoping this time to take home Olympic gold.
These are just some of the stories. I’m not looking for the deepest, most mind-blowing stories ever for everyone, but if there is local news to report then report it. It’s not to slight Aly in the least bit who is a phenomenal Olympian. She had to be to win gold and what makes it cooler is that she grew up in Massachusetts and it’s something for the people of the Commonwealth to connect to even more. She just shouldn’t be the only one as these other athletes from the same state who have also worked just as hard their entire lives for a similar one moment on the biggest stage in the world. It’s the local news that has forgotten this and these athletes and not us as the consumer.
As people from Massachusetts, and as Americans we should celebrate Raisman, but also the Kayla Harrison’s and Shalane Flanagan’s who sometimes get lost in the shuffle because they don’t necessarily compete in the “cool” sports. That is the job of the local news and it’s just a shame that channel 7, channel 4 and the others won’t even promote those athletes.