â†µFirst note: The U.S. men's volleyball team won gold on Sunday, the team coached by Hugh McCutcheon, whose father-in-law was stabbed to death by a deranged Chinese man at the Bell Tower in Beijing just a few days into the festivities. The medal ceremony began, the anthem cranked up, and the camera panned a few faces before settling on McCutcheon and then just ... sitting ... there. No movement, no visible tears, but just one long stare that went about fifteen seconds too long, turning a visual acknowledgment of tragedy into a voyeuristic stare. It's as if they were waiting for tears that, for the ultra-composed McCutcheon, never really came. â†µâ†µ
â†µ(Good for him, too. The whole moment felt intrusive and overstaged, especially considering the intensity of a private tragedy like McCutcheon's.) â†µâ†µ
â†µContrast this storyline's over-emphasis with the complete absence of Matthew Mitcham's story. NBC mentioned his departure from diving to take care of "personal issues," and the fact he'd returned to the sport just a year earlier, but completely omitted any mention of Mitcham's unique status as the sole openly gay male athlete at the Olympic Games. â†µâ†µ
â†µThere are two possible explanations: either we're all so comfortable with gay athletes that it doesn't even merit a mention, or NBC thought it was too delicate an issue to touch at all. I would love to assume it was the first, but suspect it was the second, especially since his coming out was such an essential part of Mitcham's comeback story. The first person Mitcham greeted in the mixed area with media was the reporter who worked with Mitcham on his coming out story, so it's not like Mitcham himself played it down. He left that job to NBC, who may have omitted one of the more compelling sidelines in the name of not offending those who might -- gasp! -- be shocked to find out a male diver was homosexual. â†µâ†µ
This post originally appeared on the Sporting Blog. For more, see The Sporting Blog Archives.