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Power Take: Don’t define female athletes by who they are married to

Corey Cogdell is a three-time Olympian. That’s not an easy feat. She is one of the most decorated trap shooters in the United States and over the weekend won her second Olympic medal, taking the bronze at the Rio Games. That’s when the Chicago Tribune caused a social media stir by tweeting “Wife of a Bears’ lineman wins a bronze medal today in Rio Olympics,” with a link to its story.

The Tribune was doing what all media outlets are in an age of trying to draw online readership – highlighting a local connection and drawing clicks by linking Corey to her husband, Chicago Bears lineman Mitch Unrein. But the outlet also played into a classic stereotypical description of female athletes – defining her through her relationship to a man.

It happens again and again. Female athletes are defined by their fathers or brothers or husbands. And while fathers, brothers and husbands can play critical support roles, it often overshadows the accomplishments of the women themselves. How we frame the success of female athletes is important. It shapes the way we talk to our children, and each other, about the value of a person. And Corey Cogdell is a strong, successful athlete in her own right.

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