August 23, 2008

As Chris Rock might say ...

I don't see why Americans don't give the women-only sport of rhythmic gymnastics any respect. It looks like an excellent way to keep your daughter off the pole, a classy way for show-offy pretty girls to dance for the admiration of the crowd.

Wilt Chamberlain suggested a couple of decades ago that rather than try to match men in men's sports, women would be better served by inventing their own sports that highlight their physical advantages, such as flexibility.

By the way, returning to the topic of the unimaginative obsession with gender equality in the Olympics -- Men do the triple jump? Well, then women must hop, skip, and jump, too! -- one reason that women's (girls') gymnastics is so hugely popular at each Olympics is that the feminine events are adapted to feminine strengths. The men do six apparatuses, the girls four. The girls don't do the upper body strength events, the rings, the pommel horse, and the parallel bars, and they do two events men don't do (the balance beam and the uneven bars). Even the two similar events are adapted -- the horse was turned 90 degrees for girls in the vault, and they use music in the floor exercise.


My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

33 comments:

Anonymous said...

Good Question,

There are many activities that could make good Olympic Sports that play to feminine athleticism and instead we move towards mirroring events for men and women.

The female basketball 'phenomenon' is one that is completely media driven with about as much real interest as professional billiards but we see it every year. If there was a sport designed to illustrate the athletic differences between men and women Basketball would be it.

What the Olympics needs (besides getting rid of the biased judging, terrible choices of location, foolish and arrogant committee members) is a better choice of events.

Yulch said...

Yes, female basketball should be dropped in favour of the far more popular netball as an Olympic event. Believe it or not, there are male netball teams, so that couldn't be used to disqualify entry.

Peter said...

The girls don't do the upper body strength events, the rings, the pommel horse, and the parallel bars, and they do two events men don't do (the balance beam and the uneven bars).

There's no realistic way that females could perform most of the gymnastics strength events. The Iron Cross, a standard movement on the rings, is said to require as much upper body strength as a double-bodyweight bench press, something almost no women can perform.

mj said...

I respect rhythmic gymnastics. I also respect ballet, the physical demands of which far exceed those of most sports - these Olympians have nothing on ballerinas. But are they sports? Not so much. They're art forms.

By the way, this:

"It looks like an excellent way to keep your daughter off the pole, a classy way for show-offy pretty girls to dance for the admiration of the crowd. "

is not the most convincing argument I've heard for why Americans should respect this activity - you've pretty much reduced its merits to a)it's pretty fluff performed by pretty fluff and b) it's a good alternative to sex work. It doesn't sound like you respect it so much as think it's cute. Dance, cheerleading, etc. serve the same purpose more cheaply; no need to shoehorn them into the Olympics either (although I'm pretty sure that last one will probably make its debut eventually)

Of course, there's no need to pick on rhythmic gymnastics which is no more a ridiculous inclusion than, for example, synchronized swimming (also an art form rather than a sport) or speed walking (although the news that a speed walker had been disqualified for doping did provide me with a nice laugh).

Assistant Village Idiot said...

As I mentioned previously, we use sports as a platform to express our culture's values. Our sexual role values are changing, yes. But sports governing organizations try to give us what they think our cultural values should be. A sport's popularity reflects what our values really are.

It is much the same as examining your credit card report or checkbook to see what your values really are, instead of what you say they are.

anony-mouse said...

I don't believe any 12 year old boys participate in men's gymnastics?

Mark said...

As I mentioned previously, we use sports as a platform to express our culture's values. Our sexual role values are changing, yes. But sports governing organizations try to give us what they think our cultural values should be. A sport's popularity reflects what our values really are.

We have a winner. Very, very, very good point. The establishment tells us we should watch women's basketball as much as we watch men's basketball. And people all around the globe - especially in years evenly divisble by four - respond in unison: "We think not."

We'd rather watch women's gymnastics than women's basketball. Women would rather watch women's gymnastics than women's basketball. Men would rather watch women's gymnastics than women's basketball.

Is women's gymnastics as "pure" a sport as basketball, or as the 100m dash? Nope. Is it less obviously clear who the winner should be, requiring skilled "interpreters" to tell us who it is? Yep.Is it somewhat subjective? Hell yeah.

But we don't care. Gymnastics is a sport perfectly designed for women.

And you know what? Look up the bios of former female Olympic gymnasts (or volleyball players) and compare them to the bios of former female Olympic track and basketball stars and I'll guarantee you that the latter are substantially more likely - perhaps even twice as likely - to be married with kids.

Gymastics is, in a sense, a conservative sport - behaviorally if not politically. And we who hang out at iSteve have a problem with that?

TCO said...

Since 2001, the vaulting horse has been modified to be safer and is now the "table" and is same for men and women, other than different height.

Uneven bars has become much more high bar like over the last 22 years (physically and in terms of tricks done).

Same for FX (since the 70s).

The recent AA win by Nastia Liukin (over a more-deserving Shawn Johnson) is a strike back by the "arty" rhythmic gym lovers against real tumbling power by women.

P.s. http://gymnasticscoaching.com/?p=5920#comments

Anonymous said...

I have a hard time understanding your problem with gender equality at the olympics. Really, what does it matter to you?

Is gender equality stopping men form participating at the olympics? Is it stopping them from giving there best performance? Is it stopping you from enjoying watching the olympics? Are the woman events really that bad to watch?

One of the charms of the olympics is that it but sports in the limelight that people normally don't give a crap about. So what if people pay attention to 'lesser' events for once every 4 years, they will start ignoring them again once the olympics are over.

torduange said...

I'd personally love to see pole dance make it in as an olympic sport. it's eminently suitable and has sufficiently separated itself from its sex-worker roots to be a viable option 1-3 olympics from now.

j said...

Women would rather watch women's gymnastics than women's basketball. Men would rather watch women's gymnastics than women's basketball.

That's what I thought too, but I've been doing some googling and it appears that men & women prefer women's basketball to gymnastics. Actually, that may not be surprising - gymnastics may be too girly for men - but I'm surprised it beat out tennis & golf - here's a 1999 Harris Poll

The book Social Issues in Sport, which I'm finding impossible to link to in Google Books discusses the 2006 Harris Poll: popularity w/ men goes WNBA > LPGA > Soccer > Tennis > College Basketball

Lagerweb said...

A diversion...
Quiz:
Can you name 6 countries that have a distinctive national color uniform ,featuring a color or colors that do not appear on its own national flag?

dearieme said...

Lounging Langurously Licking Lascivious Lips would be a good contest.

Anonymous said...

We seemed to be in a side competition with Australia these games for producing the grungiest women on earth. Maybe we haven't overtaken them yet, but almost every American woman apart from the gymnasts seemed to be either a gnarly surfer girl, permanent tomboy or tattoo enthusiast. Say what you like about rhythmic gymnastics, it is a sport that at least gives us distinctly feminine women and puts them on a world stage. Case in point, this youtube video of Maria Petrova's rope routine from Atlanta. And, actually, there's not much that can be said towards getting rid of it that wouldn't apply equally well or even more so to the more popular artistic gymnastics.

Boxing and fencing were my sports growing up, but I'd frankly rather watch an exotic looking woman do a jaw dropping dance with a rope than the usually lousy, frustrating olympic boxing, much less fencing. The scoring in gymnastics seems to have a firmer basis in reality, anyway.

Anonymous said...

Can you name 6 countries that have a distinctive national color uniform ,featuring a color or colors that do not appear on its own national flag?


Italy (blue), the Netherlands (Orange), Australia (yellow/gold), New Zealand (black?), Germany (white?)

Lucius Vorenus said...

Oh for the sake of Goodness, please don't tell me that my Nastia Liukin reply got censored.

[She's 18 years old - it's perfectly acceptable to point out that she's smoking hot. Good grief.]

Anonymous said...

The more girly the sport, the harder it is to objectively judge it. Ice skating, gymnastics, etc. leave lots of room for judge's calls. Masculine sports do not.

Reg C├Žsar said...

Sex-appropriate sports are a no-brainer. Anyone for race-appropriate sports? Oh, wait, we already have that, just not out in the open...

Some other questions to ponder--

Is the ability of Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps to win more medals in a single sport than many entire countries a sign that swimming may have too many too-similar events?

Blunt medal count is by Olympic traditon too vulgar to discuss, but in addition it's also deceptive. Medal-count-per-capita is a more informative stat, and a count has been posted at Answers.com, which unfortunately seems closed to further answers.

Jamaica finishes quite high, but if you adjust by age pyramids you'll see that Jamaicans are much more tightly packed into the Olympic age range than are Western and Asian countries. Adjusted for age, Slovenia's performance is much more impressive.

Anonymous said...

"is said to require as much upper body strength as a double-bodyweight bench press, something almost no women can perform.
"


That would make it something almost no MAN can perform...

Anonymous said...

The Dutch wear orange, although the color does not appear in their national flag. I assume that this is in honor of William of Orange.

Tom Merle said...

It's really a matter of whether females clear a performance threshold--where the activity more closely resembles that of the males, only the times and other measures are lower.

We enjoy women's tennis, track and field, skiing, ping pong, diving, swimming etc., but not basketball or wrestling because the ladies achieve a level of competance that thrills the spectators. The difference between a females awkward layup and Kobe Bryant dunking is just too great.

As for why Steve and many on this list care about gender (and racial) distinctions in natural capacity in the Olympics: If social and public policies could take into account biological differences we'd have much more effective policies. The Olympics reflect society's inability to come to terms with *real* diversity.

Anonymous said...

If they make pole dancing an olympic sport, I might have to start watching the olympics again, althought the thought of what the East Germans would have done with it is really, really scary...

tschafer

Anonymous said...

italy - blue
australia - green/gold
new zealand - black
germany - white/black
turkey - blue/red

Lucius Vorenus said...

tschafer: If they make pole dancing an olympic sport, I might have to start watching the olympics again...

Dude, if you missed Jason Lezak chasing down Alain Bernard in the 4x100m free relay, then you missed one of the great sporting events of, well, forever.

NBC just replayed it again - wow.

PS: Since this post doesn't mention
Nastia Liukin, will it not be censored?

LSD on LDS said...

I know Japan uses blue uniforms and they have red and white in there flag. Maybe they don't want to look like China.

Anonymous said...

NZ and Australia have very similar flags, to some less observant outsiders it's the same flag. Plus its got exactly the same colours as the British flag (and the US). Hence wearing other colours becomes understandable.

Netherlands also red, white & blue flag but, yes, the royal family is the House of Orange. Orange is the national colour. Hence also the colour denoting the Northern Ireland protestants and why it features in the Irish flag (conciliatory gesture to protestants), of course no Irish person would ever wear orange except as part of the tricolour.

Germany - white was part of the old Imperial flag which was black, white and red. Although the present tricolour (black, yellow & red) was around in some form it didnt become the national flag until after WW1

Anonymous said...

If figure skating is in the Olympics, why not ballroom dancing? Seriously.

Peter said...

[the Iron Cross] is said to require as much upper body strength as a double-bodyweight bench press, something almost no women can perform.

That would make it something almost no MAN can perform...

For sure. I can recall reading (can't find the site) that the average man in his 20's can bench no more than about 75% to 80% of his bodyweight. It's even lower for men over 30.

The difference, however, is that a double-bodyweight bench is a reasonable goal for a man who trains diligently. Reaching this goal is easier if the man's bodyweight is low. It's surely no coincidence that few male gymnasts are much over 150 pounds. In contrast, it's highly doubtful if more than a microscopically tiny minority of women can hope to bench double bodyweight no matter how hard they train.

--

The more girly the sport, the harder it is to objectively judge it. Ice skating, gymnastics, etc. leave lots of room for judge's calls. Masculine sports do not.

Except that men also perform both of those sports.

--

It's really a matter of whether females clear a performance threshold--where the activity more closely resembles that of the males, only the times and other measures are lower.
We enjoy women's tennis, track and field, skiing, ping pong, diving, swimming etc., but not basketball or wrestling because the ladies achieve a level of competance that thrills the spectators.


Basketball yes, but I'm not so sure about wrestling. I've seen women's wrestling matches and they were by no means unexciting. And women's boxing and MMA are quite watchable too.

Mark said...

As for why Steve and many on this list care about gender (and racial) distinctions in natural capacity in the Olympics: If social and public policies could take into account biological differences we'd have much more effective policies. The Olympics reflect society's inability to come to terms with *real* diversity.

Since we're at the point where race and the Olympics converge (it's iSteve - what a shocker), did anyone get to see the post-apocalyptic multicultural gangbang that was the "handover" of the games to the British?

First they raised the British flag and a multiracial British chorus which was (at best) half white sang "God Save the Queen." Then a post-modern double decker bus came out and a group of (you guessed it) multiracial dancers danced around pretending to be passengers waiting to get on. Appropriately, they all looked & dressed like a gang out of some kitschy post-apocalyptic movie of the 70s or 80s - Mad Max, Buck Rogers, The Warriors, whatever. The group even included not one but two "dancers" in wheelchairs.

Then the door to the bus opened and a (you guessed it) multiracial looking little girl got off the bus and danced with the group. Then the top of the bus opened up into this godawful green thing and out of the bus rose a pedestal bearing a (you guessed it) multiracial singer (pop star Leona Lewis).

All of this from a country which, though getting browner by the minute, is still basically about 90% white.

It is quite clear, fellow iStevers, that the 2012 Olympics will be one vast multicultural brainwash. With any luck the world will end before we're forced to sit through it all.

Only trouble is, what racial crime will they claim Britain is redeeming itself from? With Atlanta it was Jim Crow and slavery. With Australia it was the treatment of aborigines. With Britain what do they mention - colonialism? The Crusades?

dearieme said...

"Is the ability of Mark Spitz and Michael Phelps to win more medals in a single sport than many entire countries a sign that swimming may have too many too-similar events?"

Yes. Except that "may have" -> certainly has.

josh said...

I recall as a kid seeing Dick Cavett interviewing Cathy Rigby(Amazing I recalled her name instantly,when I forget people I work with!) Anyway they did some stunts including the one where Cathy violently slammed her groinal area into the bar and flipped around somehow---BTW this was done to showcase the athletic build of Cavett,a short man,but one who was in good shape,kind of like his hero "Woody" who he has been parodied for endlessly referencing---and Cavett wittily remarked,"The more intelligent members of the audience may have figured out why that particular move is not done by the men..." Titters all around,tho a modern guy like Leno would feel the need to be more explicit. Female sports has only one socially redeeming value,and its NOT training mannish women to assume the leadership of Fortune 500 companies and be generals of the Army,mmm-kay? Its to allow us guys another avenue to appreciate the female body. The reason womens sports os so macho is because the macho women are completely dominant over the feminine ones,who are quite content to bow and curtsy to their masculine "sisters" but of course would burn in outrage at the thought of "domination" by the PWP's .(People With Penises) BTW didnt one of the Venus Sisters win another(yawn)gold medal? They have been dissed for taking over tennis with their masculine MIchelle-Obama-type guns. See? The Manly Women rule over the Girly Girls!The Manly Men are excoriated but never go home alone,while the Girly Men are quite the opposite--desperately seek approval by self abnegation.They get it,but its about as sincere as the above Michelle Obamas newly recalled pre-Obama pride in America. Also,I heard Amanda beard saying "Eew" at the thought of kissing Michael Phelps. Will his feats allow him to reap the quality babes despie the toothy grin and hang-dog face,you know the really sweet,sexy girls that a low IQ,drugged up,flabby layaboiut like that rock guy Doherty that dated Kate Moss??

Lucius Vorenus said...

Mark: Only trouble is, what racial crime will they claim Britain is redeeming itself from? With Atlanta it was Jim Crow and slavery. With Australia it was the treatment of aborigines. With Britain what do they mention - colonialism? The Crusades?

Fidel to the rescue:

Castro defends athlete who kicked judge in face
breitbart.com

...Castro wrote... that Cubans need to begin preparing now for London in 2012. "There will be European chauvinism, judge corruption, buying of brawn and brains ... and a strong dose of racism," he predicted.

AngrySaxon said...

"judge corruption"

Don't be silly Fidel, it's a noted fact that judges in Britain are the only ones in the world who are both incorruptible and impossible to intimidate. On the otherhand, being old and deranged is what qualifies you to be one.

Oh he meant a sporting judge... Well some of them will be foreign, can't trust them chaps, quite right Fidel.

"Only trouble is, what racial crime will they claim Britain is redeeming itself from? With Atlanta it was Jim Crow and slavery. With Australia it was the treatment of aborigines. With Britain what do they mention - colonialism? The Crusades?"

Well... I mean we can basically be blamed for everything wrong that white people have ever done in any country we've owned, even if it was for five minutes.