Will This Young, Happily Married Olympian Start a New Culture War?

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Feb. 19 2014 11:59 AM

Will This Young, Happily Married Olympian Start a New Culture War?

American halfpipe skier David Wise wins gold in being "alternative."

Photo by Joe Scarnici/Getty Images for USOC

Mollie Hemingway, the conservative media-watcher and journalist, has a funny, aggrieved take on an NBC piece about halfpipe gold medalist David Wise. Its headline: "David Wise's alternative lifestyle leads to Olympic gold." The actual lifestyle: "At only twenty-three years old, he has a wife, Alexander [sic], who was waiting patiently in the crowd, and together they have a two-year-old daughter."

"Isn't it fascinating," asks Hemingway, "that NBC views a man taking care of his wife and daughter as an alternative lifestyle?"


I like to catch media outrages before the wave crests, so it's worth asking what NBC's sin was. The headline is either ironic or ridiculous, true, but if it's irony, it's contextual. Reporter Skyler Wilder* is suggesting that Wise breaks a stereotype, because "the rest of his competitors are hanging with their friends, traveling the world searching for endless winter, hitting the party scenes accustom to their action sports lifestyles."

The biggest American downhill skiing star of the games is Bode Miller, who's known by non-skiing fans as that guy who partied too much at the 2006 games. Every Olympics news cycle ends (this is not an original point) with reports of condom shortages at the athlete villages. Wise is the alternative star. Get it?

Get this, too: Wise got married and had a kid at a far younger age than most people. According to data published by the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy, the median age of the American first marriage is 26 and a half. The average age for an American bringing the first child into his/her homes: About 25 and a half. So, yes, David Wise is very good at skiing, and he figured out, as the Internet might refer to it, that whole adulthood thing much faster than the median American or median famous Olympian. Good for him! Let's not have a culture war about it.

*This is a fantastic sportswriter name.

David Weigel, a former Slate politics reporter, is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics


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