Pout Heard Around the World: McKayla Maroney’s Facial Expression Takes on Life of its Own

From the third week in July to the beginning of August, I was glued to my television watching the Olympics every night like the rest of the world. As I was watching the women’s gymnastics individual all-around, there were a few things that surprised me. The first was McKayla Maroney’s pout that she had on her face during the medal ceremony, and the second was world’s reaction to it after the fact.

Since that moment when Maroney made that face, it has gone global on the Internet with humorous captioned photographs or “memes” appearing on Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. On the other hand, people have been commenting on it saying that it was “bad sportsmanship”. Honestly, these people seem to be making this a bigger deal than it really needs to be. So she made a face, I’m sure that she is not the first and certainly will not be the last Olympian to be disappointed by their final standing in an event.

That’s what it seemed to boil down to: disappointment in herself that she made that fatal mistake that caused her to get the silver by a one hundredth of a point. Her expression may have seemed like she was acting a little petty, but it comes with the territory of being an athlete. Maroney, like many others, has trained practically all her life to make it to the Olympics. She was a crowd favorite and demonstrated her amazing and unbelievable talent as she, like a rocket, went into the air on the pummel vault. It looked like the gold was going to be hers for the individual event. Then, it is taken away by a simple and unexpected mistake in front of millions of people. Wouldn’t you be upset as well?

I know she is supposed to be a representative of our country, and standing on the medal stand pouting is not exactly giving the greatest impression. Still, even though she is a professional athlete, she is still a kid as well. And as an upset sixteen- year –old girl she was quite calm. It is not like she went off ranting, crying, and screaming, or said something rude to the other competitors. Afterwards, she smiled, took a picture with her silver medal, and still congratulated the other medalists. Under the circumstances, she seemed to handle herself better than I expected. It doesn’t seem like she will be holding any grudges anytime soon.

Honestly, I think that the reason it was such a big deal in the media was that she was and still is representing our country, and there was hype behind her as an individual athlete. It seems pretty ludicrous that people judge athletes so harshly during the Olympics. They are already under immense pressure to be perfect in front of a dozen cameras. Then, commentators nitpick every part of their performance and then criticize when they mess up. These athletes at the end of the day are still people like us, who will make mistakes. They want to be the best of the best, not only to prove it to themselves, but to also make their country proud and victorious.

I think Mckayla’s little grimace is understandable after all, and she is taking the criticism in stride. After the pouting incident had been making some waves, she posted a picture on Twitter of her and her teammates standing with their hotel robes on with the infamous facial expression saying, “The pool is closed. We are not impressed.” At least Mckayla can take a joke, so maybe we should cut her a little slack.