Go Gabby!! Now What's This Talk About a "Racist" Commercial?

August 03,2012
Erin Dower( )

It was such a thrill to see Gabby Douglas claim gold in women's all-around gymnastics last night. Go Gabby!!

Olympics addict that I am, I watched every minute of NBC's coverage (and commercials) last night. So I was confused this morning when I saw the headline "NBC Slammed for Awkward Segue" on the Fox Sports website. Hmm... what had I missed? Did something go over my head?

Well, the Fox article -- and other media outlets and blogs all over the Web -- said "We're not going to cry racism..." (BUT...) NBC aired an "awkward" transition at the end of the gymnastics coverage: Bob Costas talked about how Gabby's win might inspire other African-American girls to try the sport, then it cut to a commercial with a spider monkey performing on the gymnastics rings.

I saw it and didn't think anything of it. In fact, in my household of animal lovers, we actually laughed at the commercial and joked about how our golden retriever mix (who we love to personify) would look if he could do the pommel horse or balance beam.

Naively, perhaps, I think most Americans wouldn't think anything of the commercial (a plug for a new NBC sitcom Animal Practice), or its juxtaposition with Costas' snippet. I've watched a lot of Olympics, from what I remember, Costas (and NBC) has been a class act in their Olympic coverage.

So, way to stir the pot, and detract from Gabby's historic win, classless media outlets. I daresay (and will take any heat for this), if you think that segue or commercial are tinged with racism, look in the mirror, folks. Fox is mainly the one "taking NBC to task," as their headline claims -- and they're coming off as a jealous and bigoted little kid. (And, yes, I was annoyed by the earlier media chatter about Gabby's hair, too.)

It's 2012, not 1952. Gabby is the first African American to win an Olympic all-around gold -- and race was hardly on her mind when she claimed victory, as she told the AP.

If you want to celebrate her as a black champion and use her win as an opportunity to promote diversity awareness and (positive) American values, that's great. If you want to just recongnize her as a hard-working young woman, who won her first state championship at age 8 and sacrificed by living thousands of miles from her family to train with an elite coach, that's cool, too. Otherwise, it's time to stop the race-based chatter and celebrate the "Flying Squirrel," whose second gold of the week help put our amazing country on top in the medal count. Keep it classy, America! Go, Team USA!