The first self-proclaimed “non-binary” Olympian Alana Smith, who competed in women’s skateboarding at the Tokyo Olympics because she is female, received an apology from NBC for “repeatedly misgendering” her during their Tokyo coverage. In other words, NBC News used female pronouns to refer to a female skateboarder — and they want you to know they’re deeply sorry about it.
During coverage of last week’s games, in which the skateboarder left her first Olympics empty-handed, NBC came under fire for broadcasting commentary that referred to Smith by accurate biological pronouns, she and her. The outlet issued an apology on Tuesday for not carefully abiding by Smith’s “they/them” speech code, while also diverting blame to an international feed that “misgendered” her.
“NBC Sports is committed to — and understands the importance of — using correct pronouns for everyone across our platforms,” NBC Sports’ official statement read. “While our commentators used the correct pronouns in our coverage, we streamed an international feed that was not produced by NBCUniversal which misgendered Olympian Alana Smith. We regret this error and apologize to Alana and our viewers.”
Smith was the first Olympian to compete under the self-given title of “non-binary.” Despite rejecting her innate femaleness, Smith signed up to compete on the U.S. Women’s Skateboarding team but said, “I just want to be known as a good skater, someone that made a difference. Gender shouldn’t matter.”
It really is pretty garbage hearing NBC commentators repeatedly misgendering Alana Smith when they literally have they/them on their board. pic.twitter.com/q6aJqOPESb
— Erin, Trail Mom (@ErinInTheMorn) July 26, 2021
Following headlines such as “Olympic, NBC failed Alana Smith and the non-binary community” and “Alana Smith represents non-binary Olympic excellence,” Smith joins the posse of other Olympians who made this year’s games into a social platform instead of an attempt to bring glory to their home country.
Any other year, headlines would reveal Smith’s utter failure at the games. Smith missed out on her chance at a medal after botching four out of five landings in her two attempts. Her score totaled 1.25 in the final heat, compared to gold medalist Funa Nakayama’s 15.77.