Let’s change the way we talk about Olympic performances

The floor is yours. You step on stage and the crowd of a dozen locks eyes with you. This is it – it’s THE meeting. You’ve trained your entire professional career for this moment. Your powerpoint is prepped and your notes are cleanly organized on the lectern. You are ready to represent your company.

A shaky version of your voice, a version you don’t recognize, welcomes everyone to the meeting. The powerpoint clicker in your hand is slick with nervous sweat. You reach for the right arrow, gingerly pressing the button you’ve hit so many times before, but nothing happens. You try to overcome the minor stumble, thinking very few will notice, but from there the presentation takes a turn for the worse. The computer crashes, and you’re left clamoring, trying to explain your presentation without any visual support.

When the meeting adjourns, you pull out your cellphone to find 15 emails, with subject lines reading, “What a DISASTROUS performance,” “You’ve blown your only shot,” and “Our company is disappointed.” And the Tweets, well, those cut even deeper. Imagine how this would make you feel.

During the first day of competition in Pyeongchang, many Olympians took to their respective stages for the first time, prepared to share their life’s work with the world. And, for some of them, this opportunity did not go exactly as planned. Most notably, five of eight male skaters who performed last night tumbled to the ice during their short program, including American skater Nathan Chen.

When I read the headlines this morning about the events of last night, I was disappointed. Not that Chen and his competitors fell, but with how the media chose to describe the performances. Words like “disastrous” and “disappointing” littered the headlines. I cannot imagine the pain these words would well up in someone who had spent their entire life training to make it to this point.

I need to make something clear – there is no fall, stumble or slip-up in sport that could make me “disappointed” in an Olympic athlete. Their accomplishments are incredible, and the mere fact that they made it this far makes me proud to stand behind them.

Let’s change the way we talk about Olympic performances. Let’s build up our Olympians, celebrating their accomplishments and rooting them on through their missteps. I’d love for our athletes to see positive headlines from across the globe, especially with so much time left to compete.