While Naomi Osaka Loses in the Olympics, ESPN Loses, Period

AP Photo/Christophe Ena

Naomi Osaka was defeated by Marketa Vondrousova in straight sets 6-1, 6-4 during the third round of the Tokyo Olympics women’s singles tennis competition Tuesday. Which happens. That is not the story, which should not be the case. Rather, it is the ridiculous manner ESPN is reporting the news. Which also should not be the story, yet there it is.

The article features such hard-hitting gems as this:

As the highest-paid female athlete in the world and the host country’s face of the Games, the huge expectations were hard to handle.

Thank you for that brilliant insight, Sir Obvious of the Royal Order of Whiteknighting.

There is a lamentable inability in much of sports journalism to always treat male athletes as personally assailable and women athletes as utterly untouchable. The men’s basketball team loses? Torch ‘em! The women’s soccer team loses? Barely a tsk tsk. It is inevitable that sports journalists protect their favorites.

The same syrupy smarminess that saw reporters assisting Kamala Harris with clothes shopping during her failed presidential run permeates coverage of women athletes that toe the PC line. Say the right things, support the right causes? You’re golden. Oh, wait, you’re gay? All the better.

Speaking of better, ESPN’s coverage gets even, better with a sidepiece to the main story titled Olympics 2021: Naomi Osaka’s legacy still filled with hope despite tennis loss. The tears will flow over deathless prose such as this:

Still, while the loss will surely hurt Osaka, she has already left a strong legacy off the court in her home country. The image of her lighting the torch was a symbol of hope for a country that has gone ahead and put on an Olympic Games amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

She also has made an impact in ending the stigma surrounding mental health. In her self-penned piece in Time magazine, which came out before the Games, Osaka spoke of wanting to make Japan’s people “proud,” and that didn’t necessarily need to be accomplished with a medal.

Because nothing makes the heart swell with patriotic pride like someone who can’t handle pressure.

Really, is it too much to ask to be given sports news while leaving the cheerleading to the, you know, actual cheerleaders?