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Stop Picking on Gabby Douglas

On her Facebook page this morning, Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas posted the following message: “Whew I finally got some good rest after having to deal with some of this negativity. First my hair – then my mom. I guess noone could wait till we finished competing so that we could keep our concentration and focus. But you know what one more final to go! Ladies let’s make it count!!!! LET’S GET EM!! #USA #beamfinals #floorfinals Pray for us! ♥ Gabby”

Yes, like many people last week, I was won over by Gabby Douglas’s talent and charm while watching the Olympics. After winning the team gold and then the individual all-around gold, Gabby should have been feeling good about life – and she probably was for a while. But it’s an unfortunate and inevitable consequence of being a public figure that somebody’s going to try to knock you down when you should just be relishing the moment of victory. That’s what Gabby is referring to in her Facebook post.

Apparently, there has been a big discussion online because some people have a problem with her hair. Then the fact that her mother had declared bankruptcy made news. And though Gabby didn’t refer to it on Facebook, there was also one prominent columnist who criticized her for making a statement about God after she won the all-around gold medal. In a media culture that often decries bullying, there are certainly still writers and commenters who straddle that line themselves, picking on a 16-year-old girl whose only crime is loving God and being successful at her sport.

Since we’re into lighting a candle rather than cursing the darkness over here on the Christopher Closeup blog, I’ll refer you to a positive story about Gabby’s mom (actually, two moms) that fellow Patheos blogger Nancy Anderson French posted today. And for a defense of Gabby’s faith, Nancy’s husband, David, has this thoughtful piece.

Today is Gabby Douglas’s last day of Olympic competition. Hopefully she can stay focused on her sport and perform at her best. There’s definitely no shame in not winning another medal, but the reason shouldn’t be that she was distracted by petty gossip and sniping against her. Go TEAM USA!

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About Tony Rossi

After graduating from St. John's University in New York with degrees in Communications and English, Tony Rossi found a job at the Catholic media organization, The Christophers, that allowed him to indulge his interest in religion, media, and pop culture. He served as The Christophers' TV producer for 11 years, and is currently the host and producer of the organization's radio show/podcast Christopher Closeup, writer and editor of their syndicated Light One Candle column, and producer/scriptwriter of the annual Christopher Awards ceremony.


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