Friday, May 8, 2009


"I think we have to remember," Johnson said, "yes, these are world-class athletes, but they're also little girls." 

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Thursday, May 7, 2009


"Nine out of every 10 gymnasts interviewed said that they had continued to train on injuries that resulted in broken bones or surgery or that they had resumed training without getting clearance from a doctor."

"Doctors discovered 22 stress fractures on the spine of Olympian Kelly Garrison." 

"Christy Henrich died in 1994 from multiple organ failures stemming from her eating disorders. Shortly before she died, the 4-foot-11 Henrich weighed 47 pounds."

"Although the National Collegiate Athletic Association prohibits teams in all sports from practicing more than 20 hours a week, most elite gymnasts, some of them 10 years younger than college athletes, train twice as long each week." 

"Three out of four retired gymnasts interviewed continue to experience health problems related to gymnastics." 

"How much pounding? Consider this: A gymnast can reach a height of 10 feet on her dismount from the uneven bars. Imagine standing on a basketball rim and jumping onto a mat less than 8 inches thick, several times a day, seven days a week."

"Before she was 14, Knapp broke her back three times."

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Expose, Expose, Expose!

I have been a gymnastics instructor for girls (and some boys but on the female apparatuses) ranging from ages 3- 14. I have coached at two different gyms, one is a competitive and recreational gym and the other is only a recreational facility. 
I first worked at the recreational facility, this will be my third year, and just recently was employed at the recreational and competitive facility. When I got to work the first  day at the competitive and recreational facility , I began to teach my group of girls skills which I would normally teach at my recreational facility. A lot of the skills were new to the girls, even though they were all more then capable of doing what I told them . For example, my 8-13 year old girls had not been taught to go from the low to high bar, not squat ons, just stepping up to the high bar, nor had they been taught any skills on the high bar itself. When asked why?, the manager responded that these girls were being taught to eventually be level 4 competitors and the level 4 routine does not call for any use of the high bar. The manager had not taught the girls  skills that they would not need to know for level 4, even though they were not yet on team and were doing gymnastics for fun. To me, teaching to a level is taking away the benefits of gymnastics which are (to list a few) creativity, individuality, and fun. To make girls fit a mold, especially those who do not need to yet, is to be depriving them of new experiences and variety.
Should girls be exposed to all different gymnastics moves, or be taught to a level? Is it worth it to teach girls moves they will not compete if they are going to eventually join a team? 

Monday, May 4, 2009

"Suck it up"

In reference to the CNN documentary : Pursuing the Perfect Ten PART 2 (which you should all watch if you haven't yet) Why do parents think that it is okay to push kids through practices when they have injuries? 
Ashley Berry- Age 7. Broke her ankle in practice, parents told her sometimes gymnasts get hurt and you have to learn to "suck it up". On the way to a competition (TOPS) while her ankle is swelling she is told again to "suck it up". She is made to compete all events except the sprint and vertical jump. She is given zeros for the two events she could not physically compete on. Is it fair for parents and coaches to make young girls continue through work outs even though they are in physical pain.? Should seven year olds be taught that competition is the most important thing, not health? 
What values are we teaching our children by making them work through injuries and telling them to stop complaining when they are ailing? On a larger scale, should gymnasts be told that if they sustain injuries that will not get worse they should continue their sport even though it will cause them physical pain every day they practice/compete? 
In my opinion, seven year olds, or any young children for that matter, should not be told to ignore health problems for the possibility of athletic success. All injuries should be taken seriously and not simply "written off". Ashley should have also been able to re-due her TOPS competition due to her injury because making a child compete with a broken ankle is brutal and cruel. 

Friday, May 1, 2009

Competitive vs. Recreational Gymnastics

The top ten reasons I believe that competitive gymnastics is harmful to young children ( in no particular order):

1) It is often mentally abusive.
2) It is often physically abusive.
3) It pushes parents to make their children trophy children.
4) It prioritizes gymnastics over education.
5) It impedes on the sociability of gymnasts.
6) It is constantly making children feel they need to be the best to be successful.
7) It takes the fun away from the sport.
8) It becomes a lifestyle instead of an activity.
9)It makes children conform to a standard, thus taking away creativity and self- expression ( if they are levels 1 -10).
10) It takes away childhood and forces children to mature too quickly.

The top ten reasons I like recreational gymnastics 
( in no particular order):

1) It is fun!
2) It allows for creativity and self expression.
3) Children can learn more than just the moves for their leveled routines.
4) Children can have a childhood.
5) School comes first!
6) Sociability is encouraged.
7) There is no pressure to meet certain standards.
8) Parents are often more laid back and simply want their children to enjoy themselves.
9)Children can work at their own pace to progress.
10) It is usually not mentally abusive or physically abusive because there are no competitions to prepare for, or if there are they are only middle or high school ones and health comes first according to school laws.

Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gymnastics = Full time job?

Part 1
----> This is a documentary called Pursuing the Perfect Ten. It is mostly about the Parquette's training center and was made by CNN.

The Child labor law for the United States of America for 14-15 year olds is as follows:

"During the school year, hours are limited to 3 hours a day and 18 hours a week. On days when there's no school and in the summer, working hours increase to 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. There are limits on when children can work, too - no later than 7 p.m. during the school year and no later than 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day. Fourteen- and 15- year-olds may be employed in restaurants and quick-service establishments outside school hours in a variety of jobs for limited periods of time and under specified conditions" (source).

-Observation 1- Gymnastics is a full time job. For one 10 year old at the Parquette's Gym, practice is required 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week. As stated above the law for 14 to 15 year olds is that during the school year they are only allowed, by law, to work 3 hours a day and not after 7 p.m. All of the elite gymnasts at Parquette's Gym are home schooled or tutored and spend at least 4-5 hours a day training (probably more because the 10 year old who states this information is on the verge of becoming an elite but is still level 10). Also, it can be assumed that most gymnastics practices do not finish before 7 p.m. Most of these girls are under age 14 which makes it illegal for them to hold jobs during the school year at all.

-Should gymnastics be considered a job?
*It is physically and mentally straining.
*It takes up the majority of gymnasts' free time (if not all of it).
* Gymnast's coaches are comparable to having boss (or worse then).
* It is considered the number one priority in a gymnasts life (a lot of the time).

-Should children be allowed to spend all of their time participating in a sport when their number one priority is supposed to be school?
- Why is it okay for gymnasts to pull half days or simply get tutored so that they can rise to fame? -Why are exceptions made for gymnasts but not for other children?
-Is not going to school daunting for gymnast's social lives?

*These are all questions which you must ask yourself before you decide to enroll your child in competitive gymnastics with the intent for them to become a star. Tune in for more on the Achieving the Perfect 10 documentary. *

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Fall From Grace

But when does gymnastics go from being a sport of grace and agility, to a sport of condemned death? When is it okay for twelve year olds to die from bone disease and paralysis complications, especially when these things are not freak- accidents but due to the level of intensity with which they are pushed in gymnastics at too young of an age? It is not often that people stop to think that competitive (mainly elite) gymnasts can suffer trauma's from the sport which cannot always simply be reversed or forgotten. Although eating disorders, mental and physical abuse, a loss of social life, injuries and stunted growth are all side effects of gymnastics which can be "overlooked" by many, can death be as easily "overlooked"? I am not saying that every elite gymnast will die from complications brought on from a side effect of her competitiveness and young age at excelling in the sport but I just want everyone to realize that death is not an impossible reality. Unfortunately, gymnasts "fall from grace" everyday and sometimes the fall is life taking.