Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Misconceptions in Gymnastics

Ever since I started watching gymnastics, my family has been dragged down into my obsession with me, especially my twin sister.  My sister has watched quite a few gymnastics meets against her will over the years, and subsequently is learning more and more about the sport.  While she knows more than the average four-year-fan, she still doesn't know much about the sport.  I decided to test how her opinion on misconceptions compare to that of a four-year-fan, my best friend Cassidy, and two die hard gym fans, Ashlee and Brittany from Triple Twist.

1. Many gymnasts have eating disorders. (Anna Burns)
Cassidy- No
Natalie- No, they're skinny but they have muscle and you don't have to be skinny, you just have to have a lot of muscle.
Brittany- It's hard to tell.  In the 80's and 90's a lot of gymnasts admitted to to having some sort of eating disorders but in recent years there hasn't been much talk of that.  That's not saying it doesn't happen...but nowadays, coaches and parents are more aware of how to treat these illnesses before they get out of control.  From what I understand, don't even weigh their gymnasts on a daily basis like they used to, so the pressure to be thin is not as prevalent.
Ashlee- This could vary from gymnast to gymnast for the most part, in this day and age, I don't think eating disorders are a really big problem!
2. A routine is blown without a stuck landing. (Kerry J)
Cassidy- Yes, absolutely
Natalie- No, because you can have a really good routine but even if you don't stink the landing it doesn't mean it's a good routine.
Brittany- False.  The majority of the score comes from all the action that happens during a routine, not just the landing.  However, it doesn't hurt to stink the landing!
Ashlee- False, you can still have a beautiful routine with a step or hop on the dismount.  You can't be perfect all the time.
3. Everyone believes you are going to the Olympics when they hear you do gymnastics. (Jarin)
Cassidy- Nope
Natalie- No, because even though you do gymnastics you can be bad at it.
Brittany- I feel like for the average person... that's true!  Even though us gym fans know it is the farthest thing from the truth!
Ashlee- For someone who isn't a hardcore gymnastics fan, this may be the initial thought.  But only five girls make it to the Olympics out of the thousands of gymnasts in the world.
4. The Chinese Gymnasts are all under aged. (Beautiful Gymnastics)
Cassidy- Yes
Natalie- Some of them are, because some of them look young but not all of them.
Brittany- False!  Even though they are tiny, that does not necessarily make them look underage.
Ashlee- False, Chinese people tend to look much younger than, for example, the Americans.  Even though some were underage in the past, it's not fair to assume they are always underage.
5. Coaches abuse their gymnasts.
Cassidy- Yes
Natalie- No, they don't
Brittany- False.  Their job is to push you.  Physical and verbal abuse is one thing, but a coach being tough on their athlete is not abuse.
Ashlee- Again, this could vary from gymnast to gymnast but it's pretty safe to say it's false.  Abuse wouldn't go very far today.
6. It is impossible to be a successful gymnast if you are not a prepubescent.

Cassidy- No, (look at what's her face... You know who I'm talking about [Oksana Chusovitina])
Natalie- It makes it harder but not impossible.
Brittany- False.  Dominique Moceanu was 14 when she won with the Magnificent 7.  In fact many gymnasts reach their peak before the age of 16 (which is why the age limit needs to be lowered).
Ashlee- Oksana Chusovitina and Vanessa Ferrari are screaming to answer this one.  False!
7. Gymnastics is not a sport.
Cassidy- If Dance is, then gymnastics is.
Natalie- It is a sport because some of the things gymnasts do are harder than things other athletes have to do.
Brittany- That's incredibly false.  It's the hardest sport in the world.
Ashlee- False, if you are sweating then it's a sport.
8. In order to win a medal in gymnastics, "all you have to do is wink at some French judges." (Yahoo Sports)
Cassidy- HELL NO
Natalie- But what if you're not in France?  No because you have to have a lot of talent.
Brittany- False.  In order to win a medal you have to put in the hours at the gym and work your butt off to make yourself a contender!  Nothing comes easy!
Ashlee- False, in order to win a medal you have to work hard and earn it.
9. Gymnastics is only competed every 4 years at the Olympics, not every year.
Cassidy- Gymnastics occurs more than just the Olympics!
Natalie- No, even I know that one!
Brittany- False.  Gymnastics is something you do every single day that leads up to the biggest meet of your life...that just so happens to be every four years.
Ashlee- False.  There are gymnastics meets almost every weekend, whether it be a "level" meet, collegiate, or elite.

As you can see, there is a drastic change between Ashlee and Brittany and Cassidy.  The "four-year-fan" takes what they hear on television more serious than the hard-core fans.  The hard-core fans know more about the sport and form more opinions, while the four-year-fan believes more misconceptions than Ashlee and Brittany.

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