Shame on our broadcasters

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Shame on our broadcasters

Sports are a war without guns. The Olympic Games, in particular, tend to turn into a battle zone among nations. But the combative nature is just one feature of sports and the Olympiad. We get great joy from the epic drama among athletes from around the globe, as a plethora of colorful events are unleashed on the sports fields.

But our broadcasters focus entirely on the sports Korean athletes play at the Rio Olympics. The three major broadcasters — KBS, MBC and SBS — air almost solely sports events like archery and pistol-shooting in which Koreans have a high likelihood of winning gold medals.

As a result, local viewers are forced to settle with the same scene on different channels. Once they are robbed of their choice in viewership, they must turn to foreign television channels or Internet sites to watch other performances of non-Korean athletes.

The three terrestrial broadcasters have paid a combined fee of 44 billion won ($40.2 million) to broadcast the Games in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. But that money is apparently not to cover the performances of Korean athletes only. Mainstream broadcasters must coordinate airing the Games so that viewers can enjoy diverse sports events.

Some broadcasters have also come under criticism for sexist commentaries and remarks on television, which runs counter to the zeitgeist of our time: gender equality and respect for humanity. One commentator exclaimed, “Isn’t it amazing for a female weight lifter to lift this heavy barbell?” Another one referred to a female judo competitor as playing tough while looking “soft” on the outside.

It is shameful that sportscasters and commentators alike are all engaged in making sexist remarks during the broadcasts without finding any problem with it. There cannot be a male and female focus among athletes who are fighting for their national name. They have been chosen to represent their country after endless competitions against themselves and others.

Those players do not deserve condescending and rude remarks from commentators. If the media cannot catch up with the era of gender equality, they have no reason to exist. After the Olympic Games are over, Korean sports federations must consider holding gender equality education for the media so that they don’t make the same mistakes at the next Olympiad.

JoongAng Ilbo, August 16, Page 30
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