This could not be further off-topic.

August 13, 2008 at 9:43 am (Uncategorized) (, )

I’ve spent the last few days camped out in front of the Olympics, cutting and pasting the last remains of the book. And, of course, the big story that keeps getting repeated over and over on TV is the Are the Chinese gymnasts really the age their country says they are? and I find it really quite annoying for a number of reasons. Bela Karolyi suggests that the solution is to remove age restrictions all together so that, one assumes, the US and Romania and all the other high-flying acrobatic countries in the world can start enlisting younger and younger girls. Only fair, right? I mean, who cares if the practice of enlisting three year olds and training them hard to see which one of them might compete best when they’re nine seems incredibly cruel – at least the playing field would be flattened and everything would be fair, right?

Yuck. And given that all I know about gymnastics can be fit on the head of a pin, perhaps I’m in no position to offer advice. But I woke up this morning with an idea that… well, do I smoke crack, or would this work?

Why don’t we just adjust the equipment so that it can accommodate slightly taller girls/women? Suppose we just widened the field for the floor exercises a bit, or raised the uneven bars a couple of inches – wouldn’t that sort of take care of the situation? I’m 6’1″ and it’s obvious I will never compete in gymnastics. But what if the equipment was scaled up so that the perfect height for a competitor wouldn’t be inches below 5′ (as it is now) but rather, 5’3″ or so? Wouldn’t that they mean that countries would be forced to wait til their athletes were just a touch older, so that they grew into the ideal height?

This is driving me nuts.



  1. Wheeler said,

    We were talking about this today in the studio: supposedly girls are better at gymnastics before they hit puberty because they are lighter/smaller, and also because their centers of gravity are at a more ideal place for all the crazy sh*t they have to do.

    Just another nugget.

  2. Samanths Simpson said,

    You can actually adjust the equipment, and they do- the bars, particularly, are adjusted for each person. I’m not sure if the center of gravity thing is real or not- there’s an old myth that having boobs makes you a worse gymnast, but my guess is that that’s not true. An artist I know, Becca Albee, did a bunch of work about this once…

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