Wednesday, August 20, 2008

Women's Olympic gymnastics:
A few questions and a comment

Now that this competition is over, I can get to bed at a decent hour. Unlike swimming and volleyball, the gymnastics coverage was always on at an unreasonable hour. What was particularly unreasonable was that this was the case even when they were showing tape. We had to suffer through Bob Costas locked up in his hermetically sealed studio (really, he could be in Nebraska for all we know) and Mary Carillo's segments where she tries to bring China inside to Bob through her silly little travelogues. But then you know what would happen if you switched gymnastics and Bob/Mary. Right. And I'm not even NBC.

But there is more than broadcast hours that seems unreasonable to me about women's gymnastics. Here is a run down.

The U.S. team
What's up with that funny little strut they do as the walk from one apparatus to the next? It looks silly. They should stop that and just walk across the gym.

Have you noticed that the better someone does, the more of those fake-looking little air hugs they get? When Alicia Sacramone fell off the beam, no one hugged when she first walked off. Husband is a sensitive guy and was so upset by this. "Give the girl a hug! She needs a hug!!" he wailed.

The Chinese team
Cheng Fei: One of the commentators mentioned that the Chinese government gave her parents a house as a reward for her gymnastic achievements. After she made all those mistakes, will the government take the house away? I'm worried about that.

The Chinese woman gymnasts: Do they really need that many hair clips?

Can we dispense with calling them the Chinese women's team? They don't look like women to me. The one who's missing the tooth? That's the tooth Sophie just lost but on the bottom, and she's eight.

Bela Karolyi
Can anyone understand what he is saying? Subtitles wouldn't be out of line here. I did not think it possible I could feel sorry for that Ken doll Bob Costas until I heard him interviewing Karolyi.  

And finally
I was struck watching Nastia Liukin and her father sitting together as the bars event she should have won but did not concluded that she had something more valuable than a medal: She had her dad right there next to her. One of the Chinese gymnasts responded in an interview that she did not even know if her parents were in attendance. Sad.  I know the life of any elite athlete comes with much sacrifice and many compromises on the part of the athlete and the family, but I think it says something that girls who grow up connected to their families, in their communities, and receiving a regular education compete and even win against those who are taken from their families at as young as three-year-old, turned over to a state-run machine and denied a life of choice, an education, and a family. Husband remarked "It's kind of like a gymnastics orphanage." Really, it sounds more like a gymnastics prison. For kids. 


linda said...

I agree on all your comments.....Very good summation of Olympics!

Maria said...

My thoughts exactly. That strut is the wierdest thing ever.

I told my dad how Bela Karyoli looks like my uncle - his brother, an exact spitting image. I need to post a picture of the two (my dad and Bela) together. He started laughing.

KK said...

I do not understand a single word that comes out of Bela's mouth! And a few of those Chinese gymnasts can't be over the age of 10! I mean, seriously. You can tell in their face.

Belle in Bloom said...

You made me spit my coffee on the wall while reading this. Cracked me up! I hate to admit this, but...I don't watch the olympics. I KNOW! I'm like the only American not into it! I love my country. I promise. But the Olympics bore me to tears, and the fact that we're at war right now? It bothers me. I don't know. I did catch some of the gymnastics (it's the closest thing to dance so I was somewhat interested) and I couldn't stand the fake, the "hugs", the 10 yr old Chinese "women". However, I did REALLY enjoy your summation of it all! ha.

Jackie said...

I haven't been able to get past the wackiness of gymnastics this year. Yes, the Chinese are awesome but the judges seem to hand them the gold. First that vault competition nonsense where the girl landed on her knees but got bronze and then Nastia with the uneven bars!

I wish Bela was my life coach. He is so spunky!

KatieGirlBlue said...

Haven't seen any of it, but from watching gymnastics comps in the past, I have a theory about the hair: Because of the eating disorders that pervade the sport, the clips help the girls' hair from falling out. I think that's also why they slick it back in such an unflattering way (honestly, why not a bit of pouf to the top? Why the pulled-so-tight look?).

I am just a non-gymnast hack who knows nothing of the sport, except that "Stick It" was a totally AWESOME movie (seriously), but that's my theory.

Sabina said...

i love bela he's such an emphatic human, it's terribly amusing. i'm familiar with zee russian accent so i can understand him well enough, i really think his whirling dervish style makes it all that much harder.

i've adopted the 10 clip adornment style it keeps my frizz at bay, but then again i've always been into ironic dress.

i was a late tooth looser and had to get my teeth pulled around 12 or 13 to make 16??? but they should just do away with such limitations anyway isn't an athlete just an athlete? and they let them swim at 14--why is this bloody policy in place anyway? i say if you can take the heat go for it gymnastics orphans.

tommie said...

The hairclip thing bothered me too! It's not like they haven't known for months they need to grow their freakin' bangs out!

Angelina said...

Oh how I miss watching the Olympics!!

The same kind of affected body movements occur in other competitive arenas too like ball room dancing. It's what happens when teachers standardize postures and movements until they become bastardizations of the original expectation to "stand up straight and walk with dignity".

Maybe the girl with the missing tooth is from Oregon and not China and is actually a woman but just missing teeth cause that's how people do it here. Food for thought, anyway.

I don't like bread and butter pickles but I agree with everything you say about occasions for eating pickles being when you've got a jar of them in front of you. I'm a dill pickle gal myself.

tlm said...

I kept seeing those girls hair-dos and wishing I invented those clips!

Anonymous said...

Ha! I wondered the same thing about all those hair clips. Ditto for the blue eyeshadow.