GYMN-L Digest - 3 Apr 1995 to 4 Apr 1995

There are 23 messages totalling 831 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

  1. USA Nationals
  2. the peachtree meet
  3. Stupid Announcer Tricks (3)
  4. Mtn Pacific stuff (7)
  5. Peachtree Invitational (or was it Kodak?)
  6. commentating (fwd)
  7. Olympic Schedule
  8. Question on floor
  9. Brandy Johnson
 10. Keswick status
 11. Peachtree Meet
 12. Weird Annoucements/Calls:
 14. Floor mats
 15. New (Anti-)Gymnastics Book


Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 00:47:08 -0400
From:    ***@AOL.COM
Subject: USA Nationals

  I don't know if anybody has posted the teams involved in the USA collegiate
Championship in Denton, TX at Texas Womens University but here here they are.

This list has the NCAA averages going into the meet:

1.  William and Mary        221.00
2.  USAF                        219.00
3.  Springfield College      207.00
4.  Sothern CT                196.00
5.  Univ. of Vermont        195.00
6.  MIT                          180.00 ?

Last year only tenths seperated the top two teams but W & M came out the
victor.  Hope to See You there.  Go Springfield !!  (Sorry I the Asst Coach)
  :o)                                          Carl - Peace


Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 01:36:01 -0700
From:    ***@ASU.EDU
Subject: the peachtree meet

        I liked the meet but boy this must be the all-time worse coverage
of gymnastics.  The announcers completely embarassed themselves.  I think
ESPN did not even try.  They knew going into Monday night prime time they
had little chance to even show up on the Neilson ratings opposite the NCAA
Basketball finals.  The staff at ESPN probably didn't even watch it live.
Anyway, what exactly is the point of putting these people as commentators?
I'm not talking about Maura what's-her-name, I'm talking about John Nabor
and John Tesh and whoever is there alongside the gymnastics "educated
people."  They know nothing about the sport so why do they even
        Anyway John Nabor is a dork and I didn't like his cynical comments
about Mina Kim's age and how "they are trying to keep her off the Olympic
team," like the age limit is some sort of conspiracy.  And his repeated
houndings about can so-and-so win an Olympic gold or not was obnoxious
just like him and Maura.
        Gymnastics-wise the meet was good and if it can get more press
there might be a future in this meet as a prestigious one.  That would be
fantastic considering the only meet there is in the US is the ScAm and we
all know about that.  I would be so happy if there was a big meet here on
the scale of the Chunichi that attracted the top gymnasts from around the
world and didn't screw them when they showed up.  Of course we can all
dream.  Anyway Dynamo looked very relaxed though I wonder what is it what
with them if they all sleep with the light on.  How real ESPN.  Too bad
Mina got hurt I wanted to see her on beam and floor.  I like Shannon's
new beam and floor routines a lot, I hope she doesn't keep the floor
until Atlanta though.  Of course there is another, possibly all-time,
stupid announcer thing, when Maura said that Mav the choreagrapher is a
Romanian I nearly wet my pants.  Boy was this coverage bad.  They had the
camera on Meduna for a good two minutes after her floor routine, not
including when they slo-moed every pass.  Hello it's called editing look
into it.
        Kristy Lichey has a huge Latvian layout on beam.  Australia's
form and flexibilty on beam is gorgeous, but boy they can't vault or
tumble.  They are very (eighties) Chinese due to their Chinese national
coaching staff but you wouldn't know it if you listened to Maura who is
convinced the ex-Sovs took over the AIS.  Phelps' combo on beam of front
to immediate (well just about) ff layout was too cool and her tumbling on
floor is impressive.  The double twisting front is a cool move but it
will soon have Rulfova status-- ie a cool move but everyone and their
coach does it so it's no longer spec.  Let's see what else stood out,
Dynamo looked good and Nunno and Peggy looked WAY relaxed, like they were
pre-Shannon fame, huge improvement.  The profile was nice save the
aforementioned wake-up thing and it made me want to go to the mall real bad.
        Maura and John killed the meet though.  I wish I could record
without sound.  I tried it!  It doesn't work.  Maura is so lame, she made
a big deal about "team effort" when she interviewed Shannon but how
thoughtful of her to ignore the rest of the team.  It's amazing how good
Marianna Webster looks.  After all, it's been 11 years since she won the
beam bronze at the Goodwill Games in late 1984!!  I think gym fans should
be allowed to attack bad announcers with Nerf bats.


PS whoever threw gum in Becky Dixon's hair is a hooligan


Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 08:37:06 -0400
From:    ***@SIDWELL.EDU
Subject: Re: Stupid Announcer Tricks

On Mon, 3 Apr 1995, Brett wrote:

> The stupidest thing I have heard an announcer say is
>   "Gouda is pronounced Howda"  - Becky Dixon
>   Rotterdam Event Finals coverage
>   No its ok, I didnt want to see routines, I wanted to learn
>   about cheese.

Stupid things I've heard announcers say (besides the stuff in the meet
yesterday, which will come in a following post):

"Whoa...and she is off the beam!" (John Tesh on Kim Zmeskal's
compulsory beam routine in the '92 Olympics)

"Gotta catch the bar!" (Tim Daggett during someone's release move in
the '92 Olympics)

"When your feet hit the floor, don't move!" (Tim Daggett on the lesson
every gymnast must learn)

"...and she even left the floor!" (Steve Buckhantz, a local sports
commentator, on Dominique Dawes.  This was when his radio station was
doing a little thing on Dom., acknowledging her Nationals win.)

"Was this your best meet ever?" (An interviewer asking Dominique Dawes
about '94 Nationals, where she won gold in every event)

And the line John Tesh had during the '92 Olympics when he said that
Lavinia Milosovici watched Nadia get 7 perfect scores in Montreal or
something along those lines (Milo was -1 years old at the time) was a
pretty good one also.



Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 09:29:27 -0400
Subject: Re: Mtn Pacific stuff

On Mon, 3 Apr 1995, Texx wrote:

> Mens gymn, Mtn Pacific
> Heard this morning that Stanford won,
> second was New Mexico,
> third Nebraska
> fourth Berkeley
> fifth Oklahoma.

What meet is this?



Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 09:16:41 +1000
Subject: Re: Mtn Pacific stuff

It is the west/central's equivalent to the Big Tens in the east -- I
believe 11 teams competed in the meet and most of the teams changed their
line-ups to reflect the 9 man rule for the NCAA regionals and
championships.  Basically, what Stanford does (this is only from distant
observations and hearsay) is for most of the season they use more than 9
men, try to save their best for the last 3 big meets and then they come out
on top.  During the regular season the men's teams may use as many men in
the line-up as they wish, but when they compete at regionals and nationals
they may only use 9 men -- often makes a big a difference in the teams
ability to score.

For those of you in the midwest area western regionals will be held at
Oklahoma this saturday at 7 pm and eastern regionals will be at Penn State
at 7pm.  I am hoping to have the scores from the east out there as soon as

>>On Mon, 3 Apr 1995, Texx wrote:
>>> Mens gymn, Mtn Pacific
>>> Heard this morning that Stanford won,
>>> second was New Mexico,
>>> third Nebraska
>>> fourth Berkeley
>>> fifth Oklahoma.
>>What meet is this?


Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 10:28:58 -0400
From:    ***@SIDWELL.EDU
Subject: Peachtree Invitational (or was it Kodak?)

Well, I was one of about...5 people watching the Peachtree Invitational
last night instead of the NCAA championship game :).  I agree with
everyone else who has posted that it was an announcing disaster.  My
favorite was the changing age of Marianna Webster.  First she was a
15-year-old high school freshman, then a 16-year-old high school sophmore
(in a graphic on screen), then a 15-year-old high school freshman again!
Missed the 1984 slip, however.  Also, they were missing really obvious
errors, like errors that even I can see easily.  Like they were wondering
why Mina Kim was so close to the vault on her first hand-front.  Well,
that's what happens when your hands barely touch the top of the vault!  It
was really obvious on the overhead and they didn't say a thing.  At least
they caught the hand slip on the second vault.  Another great question
was John Nabor (?) asking Maura whoever when one Australian girl
dismounted with a double full that was off-center "Now, did she mean to
land off to the side?"

Comments on the competition...
1. Was Jennie Thompson taking a break from competition?  I saw her a
couple of times sitting with the Dynamo team, in Dynamo team warmups, but
I never saw her compete and the way they were slobbering over Marianna
Webster's 10th AA at Nationals, I'm sure they would have shown her if she
had competed.

2. No Hristakieva's (sp) today!  Hooray for the new code!

3. I really liked Amanda Borden's exhibition floor routine, especially
given that it's not the kind of routine she normally does (unless you
would call her optional routine classical :)

4. I was also really sorry to see Jaycie Phelps have so much trouble.
That double front on floor was way cool.  I knew she was going to be good
when I saw her at Woodward last year.  Her compulsory bars rocks.

5. I was impressed by Mina Kim.  I remembered her from Nationals last
year, but I didn't remember much about her.  Her double layout off bars
was *nice*, almost flaired!  Of course, that's what you can do when you
don't have to bend your body on your giants.  How tall is she, anyways?
Is she shorter than Jennie Thompson?

6. Shannon was, well, *Shannon*.  I'm kind of sorry that she didn't do
the Yurchenko-1.5--wonder how that's coming along.  Bars--I guess she
finally gave up on the double layout dismount, or was she watering down
her routines? (she also left out the Miller--the Healy twirl to straddle
back handstand)  That hop full-Gienger looks so good.  I know she's been
doing it since 1992, but now it's like perfect (in the beginning, she
always caught the Gienger kind of close).  Beam--I was kind of surprised
to see some kind of cutsy choreography.  I liked her 1992 beam routine
the best; it's gone kind of downhill in terms of choreography (*not*
tricks) since then.  Floor--thank God she got a new routine.  Looks
pretty nice, and 4 tumbling passes is cool.  And a *smile*!  That was
something new :).  But I thought it was choreographed by Geza Poszar (sp)?!

7. Marianna Webster's bars were really nice.

8. Glad to see Karin Lichey doing so well.  Second all around to Shannon
Miller is no small feat!

10. That side planche to (1 millisecond) one armed handstand that the
Australian (Zeena?) did was really cool.  But overall, I wasn't terribly
impressed with the Australians, except for Rebecca Slobig.

Well, that's about all for now.  Sorry to run on so long.


Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 09:08:59 CDT
Subject: commentating (fwd)

>      I can't decide what I think about Shannon's new floor. I enjoyed it while
> I was watching it, but now I can barely remember it! I guess there wasn't
> really anything that stood out. But I'm glad she finally has a new routine!
>      What did others think?
> Beth

Ditto, here!  I really think it's quite an improvement, but then again I got
REALLY sick of her last floor routine which she's been using for what seems
like the past 12 years!  :-)

I agree with Patrick, though.  If she hits in Atlanta this routine could bring
the house down.



Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 12:16:26 -0400
From:    ***@AOL.COM
Subject: Olympic Schedule

I thought I might pass this along.  A friend of mine found it in a newspaper.


Sat. 20th
Men's Team compulsories         9:15am          $27,$38,$80
Men's Team compulsories        12:30pm          $27,$38,$80
Men's Team compulsories        4:30pm   $27,$38,$80

Sun. 21st
Women's team compulsorie          9:30am        $27,$38,$80
Women's team compulsories        3:00pm         $27,$38,$80

Mon. 22nd
Men's team optionals             9:15am $27,$38,$80
Men's team optionals             12:30pm        $27,$38,$80
Men's team optionals finals             4:30pm  $80,$106,$212

Tue. 23rd
Women's team optionals             9:30am       $27,$38,$80
Women's team optionals & finals     3:00pm      $80,$106,$212

Wed. 24th
Men's individual all-around final         4:14pm        $80,$106,$212

Women's individual all-around final    4:15pm     $80,$106,$212

Sun. 28th
Men's finals in floor, pommel, rings     9:30am $80,$106,$212
Women's finals uneven bars, vault        9:30am $80,$106,$212

Mon. 29th
Men's finals in vault, parallel,highbar  7:30pm      $80,$106,$212
Women's finals beam, floor                  7:30pm      $80,$106,$212

Gymnastics exhibition               4:00pm      $106,$133,$265


Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 08:50:40 PDT
From:    ***@MCM.COM
Subject: Re: Mtn Pacific stuff

One note on this:  I believe that during the regular season there is a
12 man limit in competitions, and then a 9 man limit at regionals and

--- Begin Included Message ---

on top.  During the regular season the men's teams may use as many men
the line-up as they wish, but when they compete at regionals and nationals
they may only use 9 men -- often makes a big a difference in the teams
ability to score.



Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 08:46:23 PDT
From:    ***@MCM.COM
Subject: Re: Mtn Pacific stuff

This meet, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships,
is what the Pac10 championships used to be.  The Pac10 was worth
holding anymore after Arizona and ASU dropped their programs (and
now UCLA does not have a team).  So they picked up a couple more
teams, BYU, New Mexico, Air Force, San Jose, Oklahoma, and maybe
one more.  I believe that Track and Field also holds a MPSF championship

--- Begin Included Message ---
On Mon, 3 Apr 1995, Texx wrote:

> Mens gymn, Mtn Pacific
> Heard this morning that Stanford won,
> second was New Mexico,
> third Nebraska
> fourth Berkeley
> fifth Oklahoma.

What meet is this?

--- End Included Message ---


Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 08:40:36 PDT
From:    ***@MCM.COM
Subject: Re: Question on floor

Carl wrote about bonus on floor.  I agree that 1 1/2 punch front is much
easier than a double layout.  But i don't think three 1/1 layout fronts in a
row is easy at all.  I have seen many people try and two in a row, and
have rarely seen it done successfully.  One more note about the 1 1/2
punch front compared to a double lay:  judges will reward the double
lay and full-in passes much more than the "cheap" D passes.  If all else is
equal, a tumbler with a double lay will score higher than the tumbler
with the layout front full or the 1 1/2 punch front.  Just my observations.
You could also discuss the v press thrus that people used to get a "D" in
their floor routines.

--- Begin Included Message ---

Question:  Why the sudden change to multiple flips on floor for mens
gymnastics?  I realize the code of points awards it but should it.  I think
it has made floor a boring event to watch.  Is not a double layout or full-in
not only more impresive to watch but harder than a back 1 1/2 twist punch
front. (As a athlete who competited both I thought so.)  I also believe one
doesn't have to be a good tumbler to score high.  Note: Can you believe 3
ding front 1/1 in a row is worth 6 bonus points!!!
                                                              Peace :)
--- End Included Message ---


Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 11:41:49 -0700
From:    ***@NETCOM.COM
Subject: Re: Mtn Pacific stuff

> On Mon, 3 Apr 1995, Texx confused adriana with:
> > Mens gymn, Mtn Pacific
> >
> > Heard this morning that Stanford won,
> > second was New Mexico,
> > third Nebraska
> > fourth Berkeley
> > fifth Oklahoma.

Adriana asked:
> What meet is this?
> :)
> Adriana

So if I rattled her, then I musta rattlesd the rest of you as well.

My understanding was that the Mountain Pacific Championships
(That WERE to have been at Air Force @ Colorado Springs)
which were at New Mexico this weekend, among other things made Stanford
the top of both Pac-10 AND Big-8.

Now next comes the NCAA Regionals @ Oklahoma for our local guys and finally
off to TOSU -The Ohio State University-
(The board of Regents there is quite strict that the "THE" be part of the name)

Since the difference between 1st & 4th was a 1.4 point spread, Berkeley
must be hurting right now.  Berkeley is getting better and is FINALLY for
the first time in years really starting to give Stanford a good run.
This year suddenly San Jose' State has decided to quit klutzing around
and finally get good.  This year SJSU is all soph except for 1 SR & 1 JR.
They also had a charasmatic team captain who may lead them next year
to one of their most glorious in years.  Next year bay area college mans
gymn I expect to VERY good.

In my last post did I mention that Stanford started the Mountain Pacific at 14th
and climbed to #1 ?

I may be duping part of my last post, sorry if I did...



Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 12:43:04 -0700
From:    ***@NETCOM.COM
Subject: Re: Mtn Pacific stuff

Mayland pretty much has it right.
While they use as many as they want over the rest of the year,
they seldome use more than 6 guys on each event.



Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 15:46:31 -0400
From:    ***@AOL.COM
Subject: Re: Brandy Johnson

Brandy Johnson is no longer coaching at Brown's Gymnastics Metro.  She is,
however, still training at Broadway Gymnastics.  She is looking very good.
 The difficulty in her routines is definitely there.  She's aiming for her
first meet to be in July at the American Classic in Denver.

Wendy Bruce just recently gave up on her comeback.  No one is quite sure why.
 She was doing great. (double layout on floor, two releases on bars w/ a
double front half out dismount, and a handspring front layout on vault)

Gymnastically yours,


Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 12:45:35 -0700
From:    ***@NETCOM.COM
Subject: Keswick status

Friend asked me this morning, whats up with Scotty Keswick ?

He heard that Scott broke his back but nothing more than that.
Can anyone fill in details ?
In the meantime silly me, I thought that Scott was coaching @ UCLA

Would someone put us "In the know" ?



Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 16:33:03 -0400
From:    ***@FURMAN.EDU
Subject: Re: Peachtree Meet

Item Subject: Message text
I just wanted to put my two cents in about the Peachtree
meet.  I agree that the commentary was awful...I
definitely had to chuckle at times!  Does anybody know
where Maura Driscoll came from?  She just kind of appeared
out of nowhere on the ESPN telecast of the World Team
Trials earlier this year.  During that meet, she mentioned
she had trained with Muriel Grossfield, but I had never
heard of her.  Does anybody else know anything about her
background?  As far as John Naber goes, in my opinion, he
should just stick with swimming!!

Personally, I really liked Shannon's new floor ex.  It was
nice to see her smile and play to the crowd!  I was also
impressed with the two whipbacks to the full-in.  I know
I've seen others do 2 or 3 whipbacks to a double back or
even a triple full (Jennie Thompson),  but I think
Shannon's was quite unique.  I also really enjoyed
Amanda's wonderful performance of the compulsory floor.

One more thing...Shannon did a Yurchenko full because they
said her current vault was being devalued in June and she
was working on 1 1/2 twisting Yurchenko to replace it.  Is
this true?  I know there were alot of complaints about her
former vault( Yurchenko entry--half turn to a front
layout---my mind is blanking on the correct name!) being
worth a 10.0.   Besides the fact that everyone starting
doing it.   But,  are they really going to lower its value
this year?

Thanks for the info!



Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 16:53:44 -0400
Subject: Re: Mtn Pacific stuff

> This meet, the Mountain Pacific Sports Federation Championships,
> is what the Pac10 championships used to be.  The Pac10 was worth
> holding anymore after Arizona and ASU dropped their programs (and
> now UCLA does not have a team).  So they picked up a couple more
> teams, BYU, New Mexico, Air Force, San Jose, Oklahoma, and maybe
> one more.  I believe that Track and Field also holds a MPSF championship
> meet.

When did they start this?  Last time I was at Stanford during the season
was '92, and they were still doing the Pac-10 "Invitational" (as opposed
to Championships b/c of the lack of teams) and I had never heard of the
MPSF until now.



Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 17:31:26 -0400
Subject: Weird Annoucements/Calls:

I think I sent this to the wrong address, so if you have read this before,
please don't flame me!

Stupidest Attempt to Build Tension:

John Tesh: '92 Olympics: "..Now I don't want to create anymore tension than
there already is, but they are close, and those pictures reflect it."
Concerning the relationship between Bogi and Gutsu.

Funniest Remarks Made By a Commentator:

Elfie Shleigal (sp?): "like I said, she landed on her face in the warm-ups."
Describing Bogi's attempt to stick her vault in the '92 finals.

Runner-up: Tim Dagget chuckling when John Tesh said that Kim Suk was 17
yrs old.

The I-have-no-idea-what-I-am-talking-about -award:

The person who announced this year's PeachTree Classic on ESPN:

.."Shannon is doing her round-off layout full vault, one that was
popularized by the '92 games." Anyone heard of Shushunova?

Runner-up: John Tesh. He realy has no clue.


In 1987 at Rotterdam, ABC REPEATEDLY showed Ana Manso (I think) crashing a
Yurchenko to her back, and Iveta Polokova missing her grip on her Tkatchev,
hitting the low bar, and sailing forward about 10 feet. Talk about
bad publicity and overkill.

Runner-up: Any repeats of the perfect 10 Mary Lou got (and with
a slight foot shuffle!) in 1984.

Most Critical, and hence more REAL, Announcer:

E. Shliegal (sp, again!): I like her the best, since she calls it like it
is. She was really good in Barcelona when she said "Her dance is a 10, but
in this day and age the tumbling is just not enough" (About Bogi's floor,
which recieved an inflated 9.912), on Vault with Gutsu "I wouldn't
give it to her (the 9.95)", and on Beam with Bogi she said "9.987 is
areally high score and I mean the move she wobbled on wasn't even a tough move!

She's good, and I like when she commentates.

Just my views.....Jeff


Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 18:41:56 -0400
From:    ***@AOL.COM

For any one who missed the Peachtree competition (including me--I slept right
through it!), ESPN will re-air it this Saturday at 4 am (yes, AM!) central
As for the commentating, I'm not surprised by the complaints.  I've
personally never liked ESPN's coverage, especially that Maura
what's-her-name.  It's similar in style to ABC's coverage.  However, that's
just me.  I personally LOVE it when NBC covers gymnastics.  As for having
non-gymnasts like John Tesh and Dan Hicks (am I the only person who thinks
they both do a great job?) leading the coverage, it is necessary to have
non-gymnasts there to balance the coverage.  True journalism is supposed to
be objective--it's not the job of the commentators to promote any sport.
 Besides, no matter what the networks do, someone somewhere is going to
complain.  That's life!

Ann Marie


Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 20:51:01 -0400
From:    ***@AOL.COM
Subject: Re: Stupid Announcer Tricks

>Stupid things I've heard announcers say (besides the stuff in the meet
yesterday, which will come in a following post):

I have to credit Jack Whittaker in the Los Angeles Olympics as the worst of
all.  Among his famous wisdom:

-called the beam the "unbalanced bar"

-Vehemently objected to Retton's 9.75 [extremely generous] on team optional
beam, as well as her not receiving a 10 on compo floor.

-said how the team competition would turn out to be a duel..."Szabo and
Agache vs. Retton and McNamara."   I'm not sure he'd ever heard of the
concept of 6 performers with one score dropped...maybe he thought it was a
basketball game...

-Snickered when Szabo missed team optional bars, then talked about how her
mistake would help "us."  He then didn't quite understand how 4 US falls on
beam would cost more points  than 2 Romanian errors on bars.

One final thought...I'm watching the Peachtree meet on tape as I type this,
and just thought I heard Maura Driscoll say that the Y-full was 'popularized
by Shannon at the 1992 Olympics.'  Okie-dokie.



Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 20:51:21 -0400
From:    ***@AOL.COM
Subject: Re: Stupid Announcer Tricks

>  "Gouda is pronounced Howda"  - Becky Dixon
  Rotterdam Event Finals coverage

>  No its ok, I didnt want to see routines, I wanted to learn
  about cheese.

Actually, I thought the highlight of that broadcast was learning all about
the town of Delft.  Oh, and the break to see football players wives cook.



Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 20:52:05 -0400
From:    ***@AOL.COM
Subject: Re: Floor mats

>Well, in my high school, the floor ex mat was sloped severely, so
we had to tumble uphill.  Both ways!! :)

Yeah, yeah, yeah. . . was this after you walked 50 miles to gym in the
snow... ;-)



Date:    Tue, 4 Apr 1995 21:23:29 EDT
From:    ***@LEO.VSLA.EDU
Subject: New (Anti-)Gymnastics Book

Since I work in Collection Development in a public library
I frequently receive advance information on upcoming publishers'
releases.  According to a Doubleday catalog I received today that
lists titles due out in a few months, the following book will be appearing
soon, along with attendant publicity, it sounds like.  It does
NOT bode well for our favorite sport.  I'll quote the entire

Title:  _Little Girls in Pretty Boxes:  The Making and Breaking
        of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters_
Author:  Joan Ryan
Publisher:  Doubleday HC, 1995
Suggested Retail:  $22.95

"Americans are glued to their TV sets as the pixies of
gymnastics captivate us with their agility and remarkable
athletic feats.  And the ice skating princesses similarly
transfix us with their beauty and grace.  But the truth behind
the making of elite women athletes reveals a grim national
trend far less magical than these images project.  The
intensive pressure often results in both psychological and
medical disorders, and these young women athletes are sometimes
driven beyond the breaking point.  This is a groundbreaking
report on the rampant abuses behind the scenes of this intense
subculture.  Author tour.  Appearance on the Today Show."

"Subculture"?  Give me a break!

Now, first of all, as soon as I read or hear the words,
"pixies" or "princesses," in any media discussion of gymnastics
(or ice skating) I know what kind of bias I'm going to run into.
(Along the lines of "Gee, they sure are cute but isn't it
terrible how we're depriving them of their childhoods, when they
could be at the mall shopping till they drop?")  What really
angers me though is the unconscious attitude underneath all
this highly publicized concern, that somehow girls are too
delicate and should not be encouraged at such a "tender" age to
achieve greatness through a hard and demanding sport.

Sure, there's *some* fire to where there's all this smoke.
There are some abusive coaches out there, even some famous ones,
and some female athletes have been pressured too much,
especially concerning their weight, to have caused tragic
cases like Christy Henrich's.  There are overly-critical gym (or
rink) parents and insecure athletes too young in many cases to
handle that criticism.  I'd like nothing better than to see an
end to all of the above.   BUT these problems can exist in
ANY sport, or, for that matter, in any artistic field, or area
of academic competition--in short, wherever success is measured
by not only the hard work, long hours and personal sacrifice of the
given individual, but also by the emotional, financial, and
reputational commitment of that individual's coaches, teachers,
and parents.  We don't like to see the problems arise, but they
do, unfortunately.  However, they also pop up just in living
through your average work or school day!  Life is hard enough
for *most* of us to get through with our self-worth intact.
Should the road to achievement, though, whether in sports or anything else,
be blocked off for some because of age or gender?  This is my
problem with the media's focus on this (and I admit, not having
seen nor read the book yet, I may be prejudging it too harshly).  The
author may be well meaning, but the resultant publicity will be
so skewered and give such a false picture of gymnastics (already
not well understood by the public at large) that the overall
effect will be more sensationalism, the stock in trade of
today's news coverage, and more harm than good.

OK, I'm stepping off the soapbox now.  Just wanted to warn all
of you and give my .02 cents worth before stepping back into
lurker mode.



End of GYMN-L Digest - 3 Apr 1995 to 4 Apr 1995