The Globe and Mail chased controversy, apparently unwittingly, on Monday when it published on its front page a photograph of 17-year-old figure skater Kaetlyn Osmond doing probably the highest leg kick in the history of sport.
For one brief moment, Canada’s "newspaper of record" was embroiled in a controversy over a scandalous photograph.
Until a 17-year-old girl with a good head on her shoulders basically told the Internet to chill out.
Osmond placed eighth at the ISU World Figure Skating Championship over the weekend, and is cited as part of Canada's high hopes at the next Olympics.
Reaction to photo: it's not a bad pic. It could have been better, it also could have been worse.I'm excited to be on the cover pic isn't bad
— Kaetlyn Osmond (@kaetlyn_23) March 18, 2013
So hooray, right? Well, not especially, because apparently the racy photo prompted a backlash from the Globe's readers. Enough of a backlash that the newspaper's Public Editor Sylvia Stead addressed the issue on Monday, declaring the photo entirely inappropriate. Stead wrote in a column:
[S]ome readers described the photo as too revealing, although it was a typical skating costume. Others said surely you could have found a more dignified photo and I agree with those readers. Many readers (and I fall into the same camp) are very proud of our Canadian athletes and feel paternal or maternal toward them and their great accomplishments. So, they want photos to show our athletes in the best possible light and not to (potentially) embarrass them.
The Internet had a field day with the photo, mostly because that is where controversy spends its fleeting moments nowadays. And on social media, many broiled and raged about the insensitivity of such a photograph. Although many simply laughed the affair away.
— Steve Ladurantaye (@sladurantaye) March 18, 2013
Uh, am I the only one who found today's front page photo in the Globe and Mail inappropriate? Not just the photo, but the fact skater is 17.
— Todd Devlin (@ToddDevlin) March 18, 2013
Frankly, if I had the flexibility to kick my leg up that high, I would be offended if people weren't constantly taking pictures of it. — Scaachi Koul(@Scaachi) March 18, 2013
@rynohainser that girl is 17 too (scandalous globe and mail!)... Gonna be the future of canadian womens skating though.
— Francis Adamo (@weathermanfran) March 18, 2013
This whole affair comes shortly after Canadian tennis star Rebecca Marino quit her sport in part because she couldn’t handle the constant barrage of attacks and distractions from social media.
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Osmond could have suffered the same fate. She could have just as easily been left befuddled by the attention. Something like this, however temporary the displaced attention, could have been a negative force on her young career.
Instead, the 17-year-old told the Internet to get a grip. She has more important things to do than suffer a horde of fools.