Janet Walkow Christine Jacobs

Big Girls Do(n’t) Cry?

This year’s Olympic coverage has a strange twist and a different feel. Turning on the news after the US “Fab 5” won the gymnastics team gold, the media quickly turned their focus to the other competitors, sitting on the sideline crying. The reporters were celebrating the US victory as well as how they crushed the other girls to the point of tears. Come on, these are all Olympic athletes who have spent their life training for the opportunity to participate in “the” games. It’s normal to be disappointed. It’s mean spirited to hover a camera over disappointed faces as if celebrating their disappointment is was part of the sport.

Media Mania

Stephen Colbert’s “Sport Report” on the US gymnastic victory describes media coverage that demonstrates the essence of the Olympics as “making little foreign girls cry.”  The Onion, a news satire publication, also poked fun on the tear-focused obsession by the media reporting of the women’s gymnastics, “… seeing a 15-year-old girl have an emotional breakdown in front of the entire world, there’s nothing better than the women’s team and individual all-around events.” Didn’t we learn as children that calling someone foolish doesn’t make us smarter? Showing the disappointment of the losing team doesn’t add to a country’s victory.

The Olympics celebrate athletic excellence and being part of an Olympic team is a rare and wonderful accomplishment. The women and men participating in the games exhibit the leadership, drive and discipline that excites and inspires. There are many tears shed at the games representing happiness, frustration, excitement and defeat. Everyone deserves a moment to experience emotions in private, especially after a close loss or disappointing finish.

Olympic Tears

The song that came to minds as I watched the camera zoom in on the Olympian’s tears was the Frankie Valli & the Four Seasons version of their hit song, “Big Girls Don’t Cry”.  Fergie’s more recent song of the same name says it well, “I need some shelter of my own protection baby, To be with myself and center, clarity, Peace, Serenity”.

Being a leader means reminding ourselves of our accomplishments, not others defeats and weaknesses. It’s okay to cry. Disappointment hurts, whether you didn’t reach a personal an Olympic goal. Let them cry, but leave them alone.

Janet Walkow is the Executive Director and Chief Technology Officer of the Drug Dynamics Institute at The University of Texas and a co-founder of Leading Women. Read her full bio.

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