Twitter Reacts to NBC's Coverage of Katinka Hosszú's World-Record Swim

August 7th 2016

Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszú crushed it in the women's 400-meter individual medley at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro Saturday night, claiming the gold medal and shattering a world record with her performance.

But when it came time to talk about her success, Hosszú wasn't the one to whom NBC commentators wanted to talk; instead, as Jezebel reported, NBC reporter Dan Hicks credited her husband for her success.

Twitter was quick to call foul.

Shane Tusup has been Hosszú's trainer since 2012, when she reportedly began dating Tusup following disappointment in her performance at the London Olympics. According to a profile of the couple in The New York Times:

After the London Games, she retreated to Hungary before returning briefly to the University of Southern California, where she had trained in the leadup to the Olympics. Over the next several months, she buried her old self and hatched the competitor who became known as the Iron Lady. With input from the United States-born Tusup, Hosszu increased the degree of difficulty of her competitive programs.

Many observers noted that her performance changed under Tusup's instruction, although not all reviews of her husband's training style and relationship with the Olympic swimmer are positive.

Hosszú's former coach, Dave Salo, told the Times that he believed "the biggest issue with her is her husband," and asked, "I think you have to look at her motivation. Is it fear or confidence that is driving her?"

The Times profile related this incident, which occurred at a Grand Prix event in April:

After the backstroke, Hosszú avoided making eye contact with Tusup, who upbraided her while swimmers from other teams stared. Tusup continued his critique in the warm-down area, where two people said they overheard him suggesting to Hosszú that she stay in the water and drown. The night ended with Tusup kissing Hosszú on the forehead and pulling her close in a long embrace on the deck.

Others have also commented on Tusup's aggressive coaching, even posting video of his behavior at previous races:

Regardless of whether Tusup's behavior should be taken as a red flag, however, there's still the question of why NBC's Dan Hicks credited Hosszú's husband for her world-record-breaking performance, rather than the athlete herself.

Unfortunately, this type of sexism isn't uncommon. Women frequently don't get credit where credit is due, and we only have to look at far as studies conducted about women's treatment in the workplace to see it.

Women who work collaboratively with men are frequently seen as less competent than their male peers, according to a study published in the Personality and Social Psychology Bulletin. Women are also less likely to take credit for their work when on a mixed-gender team than when working only with other women. And women are often seen as "playing a less influential role in [a project's] success," while male team members are "assumed to have taken on leadership roles," the study said.

Tusup may have helped Hosszú to shine, but it would behoove Hicks to take Twitter's advice and remember who was in the pool: Hosszú, not her husband. And it appears that Hicks at least partially agrees.

Responding to online criticism on Sunday, the NBC reporter said that it was "impossible" to omit Tusup when telling the story of Hosszú's success. 

But, he added, "With live TV, there are often times you look back and wished you had said things differently."

It seems this was one of those times. 

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