On Sunday, August 7, Corey Cogdell-Unrein won her second bronze medal in women’s trap shooting. But the Chicago Tribune didn’t mention her previous Olympic medal—awarded in 2008—or even her sport in their headline. They probably ran out of space after cramming details of her marital status.
Here’s their headline: “Corey Cogdell, wife of Bears lineman Mitch Unrein, wins bronze in Rio.”
The Chicago Bears surely receive ample coverage by the Tribune, and with good reason. But according to this headline, Cogdell-Unrein is not newsworthy for her own athletic achievements, but rather for those of her husband.
Does the article improve? Let’s see:
“Corey Cogdell-Unrein, wife of Bears lineman Mitch Unrein, won the bronze medal in women’s trap shooting Sunday.
Competing against Spain’s Fatima Galvez, the two finished the 15-target round tied with 13 each. In the shoot-off, Cogdell won, claiming her second Olympic bronze.”
Okay, that’s a bit skimpy on the details but it could be worse. We’ll move to the next paragraphs:
“This is Cogdell-Unrein’s third Olympic games, but Unrein, a defensive end in his second season with the Bears, was unable to get away from training camp to join her in Rio and see her in the Olympics for the first time.
The Bears open their preseason schedule Thursday against the Broncos at Soldier Field.”
It’s a real bummer that Unrein couldn’t support his wife in Rio, but DA BEARS’ PRESEASON STARTS THURSDAY, HOLLA!
The Tribune also neglects to include a quote from Cogdell-Unrein, unless you count their reference to this tweet, in which she thanks her husband’s team for their support:
On Saturday, Unrein and many of his teammates wore “Team Unrein” shirts with the words underscored by the five Olympic rings. This was definitely a sweet gesture! (But was there no room for the “Cogdell”? Just asking.)
Finally, instead of devoting the remainder of the article to Cogdell-Unrein’s achievements, the article dwells on relationship details and concludes, not with Cogdell-Unrein’s expert thoughts on shooting, but Unrein’s instead. In case you’re wondering—and I’m sure we all were—Unrein is a “pretty proficient” shooter, but not as skilled as his wife.
This wimpish article follows on the heels of another inexcusable gaffe in which commentator Dan Hicks credited the husband of Hungarian swimmer Katinka Hosszu with her new world record. It is true that her husband, Shane Tusup, is also her trainer, but he certainly wasn’t in the pool with her. Hosszu’s event? The 400-meter individual medley. Yes, individual — she did that shit by herself.
Hicks has responded to the criticisms aimed at him, telling the Hollywood Reporter, “With live TV, there are often times you look back and wished you had said things differently.”
But does he actually regret his words? He also remarked that Tusup “has turned [Hosszu] into a tiger in the pool” and doubles down on his intention to give the trainer/husband credit.
“It is impossible to tell Katinka’s story accurately without giving appropriate credit to Shane, and that’s what I was trying to do,” Hicks argues.
And yet, it is possible, in the case of both Cogdell-Unrein and Hosszu, to acknowledge the full extent of a woman’s victory without defining her by her relationships — or parcelling out her glory as if it didn’t fully belong to her.