Wednesday, August 25, 2004

Parallel Bars???????

As if there weren't enough scandals.....

Ok, I'm no gymnastics fan, but I'll easily admit that it's one of the most athletically demanding sports out there. I mean, these people are flexible, agile, quick and really, really buff. Under Doug's post I complained about the women gymnasts to this effect: why can't these women just do their flips and twists without pretending to dance and be graceful. I do understand it's a requirement that they dance, but for me it really doesn't add much, and most of the dancing come across forced and not at all graceful. I quickly realized the futility of my worrying. Let 'em dance, if they want to dance, right??

But then, horror of horrors, I watched the men's floor routines. There was no music. There was no dancing. There were no wierdly protruding lower rib cages. All I saw were good old flips and twists. Now if this isn't a double standard, then I'm Mary Lou Retton. Look at Ice Skating for example - both the men and the women have to dance and fly and twist to do what they do.

So which is it (here comes a "false dilemma"): are male gymnasts just too buff and cool to dance with their flips or is there a sexist expectation that men are to exhibit strength and women grace?


At 8/25/2004 05:53:00 PM,

they totally get made fun of in high school for being gay. that's all i know about gymnastics.

At 8/26/2004 03:57:00 PM,

Chris - You make an interesting point, although I found the men's floor exercise to be quite "graceful." While the women's dance moves include more twirling in the air and swooshing hand motions, most of the guys stopped in the middle of their routine to do a set of flares and the splits (including Paul and Morgan Hamm who point to the stars while doing the splits - VERY gracefully). Additionally, most of the men that NBC showed took time to stand in the corner and hold one of their legs up next to their heads with graceful balance. I do agree that the music-less routines seemed more dry and tumble-heavy than the women's. Svetlana Khorkina, however, seems to think that judging should focus less on technical merit and more on grace and beauty. If she ends up a board member of FIG - which she has stated she wants to - we may see more gymnasts pirouetting their way to the medal stand, both male and female.

In any case, I'm curious why there are only 4 apparatus for the women and 6 for the men. Chris' accusation about the sexist nature seems to apply here. The balance beam is no doubt a very "graceful" event, and the handstand-planche-maltese on the still rings obviously requires absurdly strong deltoids.

Are there any history buffs out there that can explain the development of gymnastics to me?

At 9/01/2004 09:15:00 PM,


Sexist expectation.

Sincerely, Mark




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