Tonight I had my first experience with up-close and personal gymnastics stars. Yes! Otto and I had tickets to go watch the NCAA women’s individual finals, and so—despite neither of us being super-huge gymnastics fans—we headed off to cheer for our home team.
It turned out that our seats were actually quite good, and we sat back to enjoy the splendor that can only come with sitting in a packed sports arena, waiting for half-dressed girls to come out and begin flinging themselves all over the place.
(I, of course, pulled out my phone to check my email while we were waiting, and then my LOVING HUSBAND felt the need to pull out his phone, snap a picture of me futzing with mine, and then email that picture to my parents, MOCKING ME FOR EMAILING. Can someone please explain to
Pot Otto why that is IRONIC?)
Eventually the gymnasts arrived amidst much pomp and circumstance, and thus began a highly entertaining evening.
They started out with uneven bars and vaulting, which are definitely my favorite events. I mean, with one you’re basically watching these tiny little girls propel themselves around the bars like wind-up toys on crack, and with the other you get to watch them run like hell only to then shoot themselves into the air to contort this way and that before landing. What’s not to like?
I busied myself during lulls trying to get Otto to help me figure out important things, like do you suppose that girl is even five feet tall, really? That one right there, I think she’s actually a sprite of some kind, COME ON, she doesn’t even come up to the coach’s belly button. And that girl, over there… see her, Otto? How many sequins do you think are on that leotard, anyway? What? Oh, I understand, I’m sorry; you looked directly at it and now you’re blind. Poor thing.
(I am an extremely intellectual fan.)
Anyway, I don’t want to anger anyone who adores gymnastics, so I’ll preface this next thing by saying that I WAS and AM full of admiration for these girls. They’re incredible athletes, they clearly work VERY hard and they’re incredibly talented. No question.
But even if we all agree that that’s the case, I still have a bone to pick with the sport, and it is this:
WHY do the floor and balance beam exercises in gymnastics involve so much pointless gesticulation with the hands??
By the time they’d moved from the uneven bars and vault on to the next events, I wondered if I’d perhaps just not given gymnastics a fair shake before, in the past. But as soon as the next events started up I remembered why I sometimes find gymnastics CREEPY. If you can flip yourself into the air and execute a triple somersault before landing effortlessly in a split, WHY on earth would you follow such a thing with rolling around on the mat while doing little fluttery hand movements that cause me to wonder if you’re covered with fire ants that I just can’t see from where I’m perched in the stands?
If you can do a backwards flip on the balance beam and sweep one leg off to the side and up and out and basically perch there like a flamingo, WHY is it THEN necessary to throw your arms in the air and flex all of your fingers while twitching your hips?
Gymnastics is fraught with unnecessary “style” gestures that feel much more like mini-seizures than rhythm, to me. In the midst of these amazing, complex feats of strength and agility, it’s like latent cheerleader DNA suddenly springs to life and forces these girls to FLOUNCE. It’s WEIRD. Their being judged on their ability to land flips and… snap their wrists to and fro?
But, you know, YAY FOR THEM for being so awesome. I’ve always suspected that most gymnasts—being so bendy and all—don’t actually have any bones. Perhaps the hand stuff is to show off their finger bones. Let’s go with that explanation.