January 27, 2023
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ColumnsThe Tuck Rule

Women serve as bright spot for US in underwhelming Olympics

After a dominant showing in the 2018 Winter Olympics, women will likely soon be out of the spotlight.

There was the new miracle on ice when the U.S. women’s hockey team defeated rival Canada in the gold medal game in an epic sixth-round shootout, the duo of Jessie Diggins and Kikkan Randall winning the historic first-ever U.S. gold medal in cross-country skiing and Mikaela Shiffrin dominating alpine skiing. Also, who could forget 17-year-old Chloe Kim winning the half-pipe and the affection of Americans everywhere for her off-the-charts skills and witty personality?

Those were just a few of the moments that reflected the dominance of the U.S. women, who, for the first time since 1998, won more medals than the men. At what many consider to be one of the worst performances by an American Olympic team in decades, women ruled the show and saved the United States from making a complete mockery of itself.

But soon the news cycle will inevitably change back to the NBA, NHL or college basketball, as it always does following the Olympics. After the post-Olympic rounds of interviews and award show appearances wrap up, some of these Olympians won’t be back on television until the next world championship. Others won’t make another appearance until three years from now when they are gearing up for next Olympics.

However, even though they won’t be in the spotlight, there is still hope that their accomplishments will mark a turning point for women’s sports in this country. The hope is that national teams won’t have to threaten to boycott world championships in order to be treated equally like the U.S. women’s hockey team did last year. And that female professional athletes can be paid living wages like their male counterparts and not be forced to live in poverty or juggle another job to make ends meet.

The greatest hope is that these accomplishments will inspire the next generation of athletes. That the young girls watching at home will be able to point at the screen and see someone just like them performing at the highest level. That these young girls will then realize that it’s OK to like sports and that there is nothing wrong with being strong and athletic.

Just as the current generation of Olympic athletes was inspired by the previous, future generations will be walking around thanking current Olympians for the sacrifices they made. So even though they won’t be in the spotlight, it will hopefully be a while before their names are forgotten by those who admire them the most.

Danielle Allentuck can be reached at dallentuck@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @d_allentuck