First the obvious: Brilliant young gymnast Gabby Douglas, Olympic gold medalist and winner of a “potential endorsement goldmine,” slipped a bit in last night’s balance beam competition, falling to seventh in the rankings as the 2012 gymnastics events drew to a close.
But does the new individual world champ need a strategic PR adjustment? Sally Jenkins of The Washington Post seems to think so. Her basic message to Douglas: ignore the noise. In the wake of overwhelming media scrutiny of her every move, her family history, and even her hairstyle, the newly crowned queen of the mat supposedly complained of anxiety and had trouble sleeping; after her less-celebrated performance yesterday, she admitted that she was “kinda tired” and all but confirmed that the endless coverage had affected her in a negative way.
While Jenkins certainly has a point about the very aggressive questioning Douglas received from every corner of the press, we have to wonder: Did Gabby really need a handler to “shut her down and [take] away her electronics”? Would a strict media-free regimen work for a star whose genuine naivety is the key to her charm? Should she be closely advised to avoid discussing sensitive subjects?
Most importantly: Why can’t everyone just let her be herself, celebrate her achievements and stop blatantly attempting to amplify the drama?
Oh wait: We just answered our own question, didn’t we?