Friday, August 3, 2012

What Aug 3rd Means To Me: Women's Gymnastics

I don't care if it's not manly; I love watching women's gymnastics at the Olympics.  Love it.

Yes, every four years, I look forward to seeing a bunch of underaged girls in leotards flying through the air in an effort to achieve perfection.  Was that the creepiest sentence I ever wrote?  Probably. But who cares? Women's gymnastics is really fuckin' cool.

The top level of any sport requires an insane amount of preparation for an insaner degree of difficulty.  Yes, playing in the NFL requires speed and strength I don't have.  Playing major league basefull calls for coordination and quickness I don't have.  NBA basketball?  Too short.  But having said all that, I can physically hit a baseball, I'm ablebodied enough to catch and throw footballs, and last I checked, I can hit a three pointer from time to time.  But I couldn't stand on a balance beam for more than 3 seconds without falling, let alone flipping across one.  Flying off a vault? Please.  Uneven bars?  I might as well save myself the trouble of going to the gym and just flinging myself from a 2 story building and go straight to the hospital.  In fact, I bet the sight of me trying to perform a simple cartwheel would be worth a week of lulz. 

But here are these young women consistently doing the impossible.  In fact, the announcer on last night's broadcast of the women's all around final kept saying shit like "now, she's making it look easier than it is."  And I'm sitting there, shoving food in my face, thinking, "ummm NONE OF THIS LOOKS REMOTELY EASY,WTF ARE YOU TALKING ABOUT."  I feel like I got injured just watching it. 

But, as I was watching, here's the thing that struck me most:  In golf and tennis, the atmosphere requires silence so the athletes can concentrate on their craft.  This makes sense since their sport is detail oriented and requires quite a level of concentration.  The same can easily be said with gymnastics, except at a gymnastics meet, there is generally a number of events occurring at the same time, not to mention odd Russian folk music stopping and starting while someone named Oksana does her floor routine (when's someone gonna dance to something the Five Dollar Footlong song?). I was watching a balance beam routine (which again seems like the hardest thing in the world, and requires an infinite amount of concentration), and the gymnast had to deal with random bursts of cheers for other events AND the annoying music from the adjacent floor routine.  And, despite the odd distractions, none of them ever wavered up there.  If someone farts during Tiger Woods's backswing, he impales the fan with his driver and bitches them out for ruining his life.  It makes me wonder if these gymnasts are actually human. 

So, yes, Russian silver medalist who was crying after not taking the gold, I feel your pain.  You're a competitor, an athlete, you want to do your best and achieve the top level. But take solace in the fact that you have a talent pretty much no one in the world has. 
You're all amazingly cool in my book.  I'm already looking forward to the meet in Rio.

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