NBC Credits Olympic Swimmer Katinka Hosszu’s World Record To Her Husband

In Sunday night’s women’s 400-meter medley, Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu set a new Olympic world record, won a gold medal, and joined the ranks of inspirational sportswomen across the globe. So why did NBC’s commentary give the credit for Hosszu’s amazing feat to her husband? Hosszu had just finished her last lap when NBC cut to her husband and coach, Shane Tusup, describing him as “the person responsible for her performance.” I would have thought the person responsible for Hosszu’s performance was Hosszu herself, since she was the one actually in the water. Maybe there’s a secret rule that once a woman attains a certain level of sporting excellence, credit automatically goes to the nearest man.

However, the focus on Tusup’s supposed “responsibility” may have uglier undertones beneath its sexism. As Deadspin points out in an article by Kevin Draper, NBC’s follow-up commentary hinted that his coaching of Hosszu might be abusive when an announcer said of Tusup, “The influence he’s had on her … it can be very, very harsh. In fact, it’s been a little disturbing to other swimmers who’ve observed it.”

A New York Times profile of Hosszu and her husband supports this worrying statement, as Karen Crouse wrote: “After the backstroke, Hosszu avoided making eye contact with Tusup, who upbraided her while swimmers from other teams stared … two people said they overheard him suggesting to Hosszu that she stay in the water and drown. The night ended with Tusup kissing Hosszu on the forehead.”

Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games
CREDIT: VCG/Getty Images

Whatever this man’s responsible for, it isn’t anything good. You know who is responsible for Hosszu’s victories? Hosszu. She’s the one pushing her body through tournament after tournament. She’s the one with the ability to break world records. Of course, coaches and loved ones help Olympic athletes achieve greatness, but ultimately the athletes are the ones doing the work.

Hosszu isn’t just an excellent swimmer; she does good both in and out of the pool. As the New York Times profile notes, she’s the one who advocated for better training conditions and opportunities in her home country, to the point of turning down a $40,000 training grant so that the money could go to Hungarian athletes in financial need.

If NBC wants to call for increased scrutiny of a potential abuser, I can get on board. But they shouldn’t do it in a way that overshadows the celebration of women’s sporting prowess. Let Hosszu have her time in the spotlight for setting a new all-time swimming record. As America’s official broadcaster of the Olympics, NBC has a duty to treat her and other female athletes with the respect they deserve.