Why Al Trautwig's comments about Simone Biles' family were a colossal fail
It’s cool that I call you Al, right?
I understand you’ve got your plate full with live-tweeting the Olympics so those of us at home can get the play-by-play on what our athletes are up to down in Rio, so I’ll be brief. Take a little breather from sports commentating (aka, being a Twitter jackass) and take a peek into my world. Just a little one:
“OMIGOSH your kids are so freaking cute! Are they adopted?”
I always think this is kind of a silly question since my kids are clearly Asian and I — with my blue eyes, freckly pale skin and red hair — am clearly not even a little bit Asian, but I always smile and nod. Yes, they sure are.
“What happened to their real mom?”
Hmm. Now we’re traveling into the land of rude and you’ve just crossed over the hill of MYOFB, but I’m still determined not to be an asshole.
“I am their real mom.”
“Well, you know what I mean.”
Seriously? “I am their real mom.”
You see, Al, conversations like this are (unfortunately) part of life on this side of adoption. I try to give people the benefit of the doubt and respond kindly, especially if my children are listening. I don’t need a stranger’s clueless questions or comments to influence the way they feel about themselves or their place in our family.
You’re getting where I’m going with this, right?
I know I’m not the first person to tell you that your comments about Simone Biles were inappropriate. I know I probably won’t be the last, but I need to tell you what kind of impact your words have, not just on Simone Biles, but on families like mine.
I know it was only one tweet but you should be ashamed of yourself, Al.
This was in response to an Olympian expressing her gratitude and love for the family who has supported her and encouraged her. You know… her parents.
I am Mom. My husband is Dad. We are parents. That makes us parents.
How we came to be the parents of our children is absolutely none of anyone else's business and the idea that how we became a family should have anything to do with the fact that we are a family is laughable. Ludicrous. Ridonculous, and I (almost) never use silly, made-up words like ridonculous, but that word seems to be appropriate in this case, for you.
I hope Simone Biles is too busy being a badass gymnast to have time to read your tweets, and if she does, I hope she has a thick enough skin to withstand that kind of trollish comment. Your lack of education and sensitivity are unacceptable, period, but doubly unacceptable for someone entrusted by major news networks to provide public commentary.
I can think of a lot of words to describe what you did, but I think I’m going to go with mean-spirited and unsportsmanlike. You took a potshot at a young girl who is trying to bask in her moment. The moment that wouldn’t be possible without the support and encouragement of her parents. Yes, her parents.
Instead of saying “aw, that’s sweet” or simply scrolling past Biles’ post on social media, you had to stoop. You had to go there. You had to try to diminish her joy, which is a douchey thing to do in itself, but with your flippant little comment, you threw a dart at the entire adoption community.
And you hit me.
What you said wasn’t just a slam against Simone Biles. It was a slam against all families built through adoption. I might not have birthed my children but I've done everything else a "real" mom would do. The responsibility is real. The love is real. Our family is real. And that's what makes the very real thing you said not OK.
I know you took down your tweet, but that doesn’t equate to an apology. You are sorry, right? If you want to be known as the sports commentator who embodies douche baggery in 140 characters or fewer, carry on. If you want a shot at the world thinking you’re a real human being, then I think you owe us something else.
Standing by for your comments, Al.
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