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?

470384809-olympian-david-wise-visits-the-usa-house-in-the-olympic
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?"

Advertisement

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

TODAY IN SLATE

Medical Examiner

Here’s Where We Stand With Ebola

Even experienced international disaster responders are shocked at how bad it’s gotten.

It’s Legal for Obama to Bomb Syria Because He Says It Is

Divestment Is Fine but Mostly Symbolic. There’s a Better Way for Universities to Fight Climate Change.

I Stand With Emma Watson on Women’s Rights

Even though I know I’m going to get flak for it.

It Is Very Stupid to Compare Hope Solo to Ray Rice

Building a Better Workplace

In Defense of HR

Startups and small businesses shouldn’t skip over a human resources department.

Why Are Lighter-Skinned Latinos and Asians More Likely to Vote Republican?

How Ted Cruz and Scott Brown Misunderstand What It Means to Be an American Citizen

  News & Politics
Politics
Sept. 23 2014 12:43 PM Occupy Wall Street How can Hillary Clinton be both a limousine liberal and a Saul Alinsky radical?
  Business
Moneybox
Sept. 23 2014 1:04 PM Which States Should Secede From the Union?
  Life
The Eye
Sept. 23 2014 11:33 AM High-Concept Stuff Designed to Remind People That They Don’t Need Stuff  
  Double X
The XX Factor
Sept. 23 2014 11:13 AM Why Is This Mother in Prison for Helping Her Daughter Get an Abortion?
  Slate Plus
Slate Plus
Sept. 22 2014 1:52 PM Tell Us What You Think About Slate Plus Help us improve our new membership program.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Sept. 23 2014 11:48 AM Punky Brewster, the Feminist Punk Icon Who Wasn’t
  Technology
Future Tense
Sept. 23 2014 10:51 AM Is Apple Picking a Fight With the U.S. Government? Not exactly.
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Sept. 23 2014 11:00 AM Google Exec: Climate Change Deniers Are “Just Literally Lying”
  Sports
Sports Nut
Sept. 18 2014 11:42 AM Grandmaster Clash One of the most amazing feats in chess history just happened, and no one noticed.