NBC says sorry over Mitcham snub

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imageNBC missed the mark in its coverage of Matthew Mitcham‘s gold-medal performance at the Olympics on Saturday, shying away from even mentioning that the Australian diver is gay.

It was a pretty clear part of his story — his boyfriend Lachlan Fletcher was in the stands and played a large role in getting Mitcham to return to the sport. NBC mentioned his “personal problems” on air, but failed to offer details. This from the same network that included all the details of Mitcham’s coming out in his bio on the network’s Olympics web site.

When criticized for their sloppy coverage, NBC argued that they had done nothing wrong and said they don’t discuss the sexual orientation of athletes. That just goes to show how clueless NBC brass is and how uncomfortable straight sports folks are in discussing sexual orientation. How many stories did I see about the sexual conquests of athletes at the Games? That indirectly brings up their sexual orientation. How many times did NBC subject viewers to soft profiles of athletes and their families? Yup, that means talking about their sexual orientation when you show the husband or wife.

But NBC relented. Apparently all those gay viewers on sister network Bravo tuned in and complained. NBC Olympics President Gary Zenkel has issued a brief apology.

“We regret that we missed the opportunity to tell Matthew Mitcham’s story. We apologize for this unintentional omission.”

The issue of reporting an athlete’s sexual orientation also gained traction this week on Dan Patrick’s radio show. Outsports co-founder Cyd Zeigler, Jr. took part in the discussion. Listen here.


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