There’s no reason to defend what doesn’t need defending.
Plaschke’s analysis might be harsh and uncalled for, but it was correct. Compared to the Gabby we’ve seen in the past, she WAS disconnected, and was so in the US Trials, as well. It’s a factual observation. Reporters are paid to report facts (at least, I think it used to be like that).
And as for the now-inevitable “racism” meme, levied wherever and whenever possible by the media, that’s fairly well negated that “America’s 2012 Gymnastics Sweetheart” (Gabby) was displaced by ……well, last time I checked, Simone was also black. Oops.
“But Douglas is not a professional cheerleader. She is not required to be bubbly and smiling, gracious and demure at all times.”
Sorry, but appearances matter. Always have, always will. Sports fans respond to friendly and outgoing, don’t do so well with restrained demeanors. And it does athletes of color no favors to hold them to a lower standard. Douglas just cost herself tens, if not hundreds of thousands of dollars of endorsement money because she didn’t govern her deportment.
“So who cares Douglas didn’t put her hand on her heart during the national anthem?”
About 90% of Americans. Just not you. (I don’t care either, but I acknowledge that everyone else has the right to care.)
Look, I agree that much of the criticism that Gabby has been taking since the Trials has been uncalled for and overly critical of her. She is indeed a great champion. Where we diverge is in two areas. First, this isn’t racism or any racial double standard; sports fans pillory athletes of every race, color, and creed on demeanor every day. The greatest hitter of all time, Pete Rose, is not in the Hall of Fame largely because he’s refused to go on a PR blitz with the sportswriters, show remorse, and make nice with them.
And secondly, like all athletes in the public eye, she needs to remember that the camera is on her ALL THE TIME and behave accordingly. Lily King did not go into the Olympics wanting to be a spokesperson for clean competition, but a camera caught her wagging a finger in the ready room and before you know it she’s a household name (the US coaches then reminded the entire team that there’s cameras on all the time).