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Monday, August 25, 2008

Help Me Understand, Y'all

With the 0lympics finally over, I really need your help understanding one 0lympic sport event that I just don't get. I'm sure y'all are wondering at the moment, 'which one??!?!'

Because there seriously are so many choices.

I could be referring to Synchronized Swimming, if only because it truly resembles a B-rated Esther Williams movie. But have you ever actually tried to swim synchronously? I have... when I was about eight... and I remember that it's really hard, y'all. It requires TREADING WATER for, like, five minutes. That is, when you aren't performing sculls. Given their specific names and descriptions, I'm thinking the I0C should alter the spelling a bit to SKULLS. If you don't already know, there are ten commonly used sculls skulls, including ones called the head-first, the torpedo, the reverse scoop and the splits.

Scoop? Split?

Did someone say ice cream?

Oh... they didn't mean those kinds of scoops and splits. Well, that's sad. And after learning what they did mean, I believe my face turned a little green. Can y'all say ouch? And can we ask the Canadians out there, "why, oh, why did you invent this?!?!? Are you cruel? Slightly sadistic? Or just plain bored?"

Flickr photo by hvr427

Another possibility is the mens gymnastics apparatus known around town as the pommel horse. If I'm totally honest (and aren't I always?), these pommel horse competitors look like suburban guys attempting to street dance. When I view this event, I can't quite decide whether I'm watching breakdancing or some weird variation of locking, but about three feet off the ground.

Flickr photo by LucaRam

I give this event Great Respect, however, because it totally looks dangerous. Those handlebars don't seem very strategically located. And some of the skills sound VERY dangerous -- the scissors and flares, Tong Fei and Kroll... not to mention the flop.

Have y'all ever done a belly flop before? It hurts, doesn't it?

I'm thinking the pommel horse flop must hurt a lot more, though. I mean, just think about the location of those handlebars. Plus, lots of competitors fall off the pommel horse. The announcers seem to just wait for it, holding their breath through the entire routine. I mean, even Japanese gymnast Kohei Uchimura overcame two falls on the pommel horse to STILL win the silver medal in the all-around competition. Now that's saying something.

Then there is - dare I include it - race walking. For those of you unfamiliar with the concept of race walking, I should share that it is VERY different from speed walking. Speed walking is just walking fast, sometimes slipping into a slight jog, but race walking requires adherence to two very important rules: 1) an athlete's back toe may not leave the ground until the heel of the front foot touches the ground and 2) the supporting leg must straighten from the point of contact with the ground and remain straightened until the body passes over it.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

It makes your head hurt just thinking about it, doesn't it? Oh, and your hips, too.

That pain in your hips must totally account for the odd hula swivel they all possess. This hip gyration is what makes this a sport, y'all. If you don't believe me, then please explain why gold medalist Valeriy Borchin earned first place amid a cloud of suspicion... it seems he is a cheat who reportedly tested positive for steroids use just prior to the Beijing games.

Wait!?!! Steroid use? Well, obviously race walking IS a sport if people use steroids to edge out their competitors.

But no, I'm actually talking about Rhythmic Circus Gymnastics. What is UP with that? The ladies look gorgeous and graceful - there's no denying it - but I constantly need to remind myself that I'm watching the 0lympics and not some third tier Cirque du Soleil performance.

Photo Courtesy of Wikipedia

Someone please explain this sport to me. I hesitate to use the word sport because of The History of Rhythmic Gymnastics. A brief review:

1814 - Rhythmic Gymnastics grew out of the Swedish system of free exercise developed in 1814 by Per Henrik Ling. Ling promoted aesthetic gymnastics in which students expressed their feelings and emotions through bodily movement. (umm... okay... I'm guessing Ling wasn't much of a dancer, so he created an alternative)

1837 - Catherine E. Beecher extends Ling's idea to include music, calling it "grace without dancing." (well, thank goodness she didn't believe in "dancing without grace" because Ling created rhythmic gymnastics to AVOID that scenario)

1929 - Modern circus props apparatus introduced, including the ball, club, rope and tambourine (tambourine? there used to be tambourines??? its disappearance completely explains this sports downfall)

1978 - To sponsor Australia's Rhythmic Gymnastics team to the first Pan Pacific Games in Toronto, the Australian Gymnastic Federation raised money by selling 4,000 buttons at 50 cents each. The team consisted of two girls, one coach and one judge. (thank goodness for those buttons... do you think the buttons proclaimed "grace without dancing?")

1989 - Officials decline to allow skin-colored leotards and costumes. (and this is when Rhythmic Gymnastics took an even greater turn for the worse)

1991 - Judges penalized Silke Nuemann of Germany 0.200 points at the 1991 German Championships because they felt she looked "too fat." (I. Have. No. Words.)

2001 - Two Russian rhythmic gymnasts tested positive for banned substances at the Goodwill Games in Brisbane. Their coach, Viner, provided the gymnasts with the supplement, not realizing it contained the banned substance furosemide, as a means for easing their premenstrual syndrome (I promise I am not making this stuff up)

So... please, y'all... someone explain this to me. And my dearest apologies to my childhood friend Jenny Wilkerson, who participated in said sport, although not at the 0lympic level.


Georgia Peach said...

hee hee.... I think you broke some kind of unspoken cool rule by referring to hip hop as "locking"....as evidenced by the need to include a LINK to Wikipedia!!

For some reason i can't even talk about race walking without chuckling...so that one gets my vote.

Dawn said...

I saw that on TV the other day and my husband and I were talking about it. It is definitely not a sport. It is definitely not a game. It shouldn't be at the Olympics. It is more like dancing. There are some ridiculous "sports" in the Olympics and that is the worst. There are other "sports" that I wouldn't consider sports but rather games, like curling in the winter Olympics, but it is called the Olympic Games so they are appropriate. I can't believe they would get rid of baseball and softball but keep dancing, or Rhythmic Gymnastics. It's a travesty.

Debz said...

That's too funny! ;O)

Michelle said...

Oh, queen of research, you crack me up.

Amie said...

ppppffffftttt. Omgoodness..Rotflmbo.

Too funny!


Krista ~ Bits and pieces said...

You are too funny~ A girl after my own heart!!

Lisa said...

Oh my. To be honest I did not know there was even an Olympic event like that. I watched the reg. gymnastics and the swimming, but missed most of the rest. Now I wish I would have seen that. Dang it. Now I have to wait another 4 years...

Rebecca Ramsey said...

You are too funny! I wanted to see the race walking but missed it. My son, who does cross country said it was impressive.

My daughter did rhythm gymnastics when she was in second grade, and I was skeptical as to what exactly we were really paying for, but she loved it! Ribbons were more her thing than the sport of it!
Very fun post!

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

Where and when do you find all of this info?

You are just too funny!!!

When we were kids we race walked....we thought it just looked hilarious, so we always did it to get a rise out of someone!!


Felicia said...

Thanks for stopping by. I just read your comment from earlier in the month. Your little tongginator is a cutie.

discombobulated said...

I sure did miss some funny things by skipping the Olympics. But I think I got what I needed from your posts! I did see a picture of one of the synchronous swimmers with the scary make-up and the nose-plugs. Yikes!
And how do you walk without your foot leaving contact with the ground? And why should it matter anyway?!

mommy24treasures said...

the one my hubby questioned was trampoline...

happygeek said...

Your tambourine Comment had me laughing out loud.
You are truly a smart-alec. I LIKE smart-alecs.

prechrswife said...

It definitely seems more like dancing than sport...

Sharie said...

I have to agree about the pommel horse...I've disliked it since I can remember. I just think it's rude to make any gymnast do something so ridiculous that so many fail at.
Now I had NO idea that Rhythmic Gymnastics was a sport, but I'm thinking I REALLY wish I would have seen it:)

Janet said...

WE invented synchronized swimming? Wow. Cool. I ROCK at it. I was the Canadian champion six years running. ;-)

Rochelle said...

Okay... I have been spending some time catching up around here... and I MUST comment on the race-walking thingy... when I saw them announce it I just about DIED I tell you... WHAT? RACE WHAT? I mean, people are gonna walk and RACE?? I will stop here lest I digress. :)

Rochelle said...

Oh... and I soooo agree with the circus gymnastics!!!!!

Rochelle said...

Oh... and ONE more thing... you and I would never be able to sit next to each other in church. We think too much alike and I do believe we be a slight distraction. :) (Or kicked out!)