Four years ago, NBC was roundly and justly criticized for ignoring the back story of Australian diver Matthew Mitcham, who won a stunning gold medal in the men's 10-meter platform diving at the Beijing Olympics.
Mitcham had just come out publicly as gay and won the gold with his mother and boyfriend in the stands. Given how much the network loves up-close-and-personal stories, it was a glaring omission to ignore him. NBC got so much flak that its Olympics head Gary Zwenkel publicly apologized.
In London, with Mitcham trying to repeat his performance, NBC made good, airing a three-minute segment chronicling Mitcham's story during the diving qualifying round. It even showed him embracing his partner, Lachlan Fletcher, in Beijing. Here is what NBC showed:
I thought the piece was solid despite some quibbles. They never did mention Fletcher in the video and as the diving resumed, commentator Ted Robinson made an awkward refenence to Mitcham's "friend." Heather N., writing for the Good Men Project, devoted a column to Robinson's choice of words.
Mitcham failed to reach the finals and gave some hint of retiring, though he has now backtracked and said he might compete in the 3-meter springboard instead. At 24, he is far from finished as a diver. Maybe by 2016, NBC can graduate to mentioning Mitcham's partner by name.