The spirit, athleticism, diversity and goodwill of the Olympics does not match the growing cynicism, judgmental nature, fail porn and body shaming of social media.

The Olympic spirit isn’t simply seeing records being broken by superstars like Usain Bolt or Michael Phelps. It isn’t even just watching the best take on the best. That already happens at World Championships, World Cups and other tournaments, where a stricter qualifying standard is set and less people are allowed to compete.

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What makes the Olympics unique is that it is where an athlete represents his or her country to the best of their ability. A sporting spectacular where the countries with athletes, whom aren’t currently elite level, still get a chance to take on other similar level athletes in the preliminary rounds. Some of them often surprise themselves and make it through to the tougher rounds.

These athletes may not be the best in the world or break world records; however, they are the best their country has to offer and often set national records. More poignantly, they are proud to put on their countries colours and represent their people. No doubt their compatriots will cheer for them with just as much pride and gusto as anyone else cheering for a potential medalist. However, too often their pride has been used as footage for social media shaming and ‘fail’ videos.

The problem with this is social media is superficial. It is snapchat filters, photoshop, memes, 140 characters, fail videos and the pursuit of likes and retweets for temporary notoriety. It doesn’t reflect the years of dedication and thankless hours of training it takes to get the Olympics regardless of how well you perform once there. Social media wants instantaneous gratification sometimes through positive bandwagonning on to a ‘winner’ or negative shaming of a ‘loser’.

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Even the BBC engaged and encouraged shameless ‘fail porn’ sharing

Everyone loves Usain Bolt. To the extent that many are electrified by his achievements and pass that off as you love of athletics and the Olympics in general. However, many of those same people indulge in the darker side of shaming athletes. They show a lack of support to the winners and ‘losers’ whom aren’t Usain Bolt.

Every athlete that works hard to become an olympian has a back story of hard-work, a people cheering for them and a personal dream that is being fulfilled. It is easy to glory support one man but too many people lose site of the spirit of the olympics.

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Japanese Pole-vaulter Hiroki Ogita

Imagine being the athlete beaming with pride and joy from representing their country at the Olympics. Then that same athletes logs on to the Internet to find themselves the butt of social media jokes, memes and fail videos. All from people who haven’t the talent, ability or even dedication to get themselves to the Olympics. However, they think have the right to shame someone whom has. Is this the society we now live in?

Another example is Japanese pole vaulter Hiroki Ogita described his bewilderment after the media and social media reported his penis was the cause of the bar knocking over on his attempt.  A video of the athlete hitting the bar with what looked to some like his penis under his shorts quickly spread online.”I never expected the foreign media to take me down like this,” the 28-year-old athlete tweeted. However, the bar was actually knocked off by his arm.

“It’s one thing if it was true, but I have to say I’m pretty devastated that they’d go so far to make something up to mock and ridicule me so much.”

Mr Ogita was ridiculed for the manner in which he failed. Many athletes have been ridiculed for simply not being as ‘good’ as the other elite athletes.

However, many countries simply do not have the funds, expertise or facilities to compete with the more established sporting nations. However, the olympics is supposed to be the place where they are given the chance nonetheless to represent and inspire the next generation of athletes from their respective nations.

Have we forgotten that athletes come in all shapes, sizes and ability level. However, they are all united by a willingness to push their limits, represent their people and be the best that they can be. However, in our Instagram fitness world we have lost site of what a real and true athlete means. I haven’t the time to go in on just how many people falsely claim to be athletes on Instagram. But, I will say these fake athletes pay a heavy part in supporting and creating the narrative that fitness and aesthetics are the same thing. And worse that athletes should be judgement on their appearance instead of supported, respected, admired and cheered for because of their performance and willingness to chase their dreams.

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Michelle Carter, became the first American to win Shot Put since 1960. She is what the fashion world would call ‘plus size’. Worse she is what the social media fitness community would body shame. Yet, none of those so-called Instagram ‘athletes’ have a Gold medal to their name. Yes, the Olympics adds a lot of new sports but I don’t see walking, turning, flexing and smiling ever becoming one of them.

“I’m in a sport where people don’t look at us like women, they don’t look at us like being girls, or feminine,” said Carter, who is a qualified make-up artist and has a fashion line called Shot Diva.

“But I’ve been girly all my life and so I couldn’t separate… between the sport and being a woman. I love hair, I love make-up, I love fashion and I love throwing the shot put.”

Sometimes, I feel like an old man, but ‘there’s too much sexualisation of sport in the media’. Cosmopolitan ran a post on the best ‘bulges’ at the Olympics. There excuse was women are objectified all the time. Which is a fair point. However, the question is do two wrongs really make a right? Surely by engaging in objectifying either way only gives an excuses to the opposite sex to do the same. Personally, I would rather athletes were able to compete without people judging them on their appearance.

I have seen tweets and articles about people’s hair, body, ‘fails’ and general shaming of athletes competing on the world’s biggest stage. How many people shared the video of the gymnast breaking his leg or the weightlifter dislocating his shoulder out of concern and sympathy rather than the fail video memes that takes up too much of the internet?

When someone is pushing their limits, striving for greatness and attempting to make their country proud there will be trips and falls. Much like we all fail sometimes. However, social media turns those temporary moments of failure into trending never ending videos of ridicule.

Gabby Douglas

‪#‎RantForRantSake People should be able to watch the Olympics and see someone who looks like them representing their nation with pride and being cheered on by their people. Instead, in our body shaming culture some people just use it as another opportunity to bring someone down. Even an athlete that comes last at the Olympics will most likely destroy the so called ‘fitness athletes’ on Instagram. There’s a big difference between looking like you play a sport and actually playing the sport to an elite level. All the athletes should be supported and respected. I sat and watched the 100m preliminaries. Each one of those athletes had pride on their face and ran as well as they could. Every athletes may not be Usain Bolt but each one is no less worth of recognition.

The Olympics is a time people get to support the countrymen and women. Lets give each one the love and respect they deserve. If the Olympics is to carry on we need to recognise all the athletes achievements big or small. As what is small to us is massive to their home nation!

FYI I know most of you aren’t Jamaican! So you are glory supporting Bolt! Which is fine; just show some other athletes some love as well!

Let us know your thoughts

Have you enjoyed the Olympics?
Do you think we judge athletes too much these days?
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