by Rick McCharles
I’ve been avoiding weighing in on a rekindled controversy buzzing on the internet right now.
But the time has come to put things in perspective. I’ve heard too many alarmist and wrong statements.
Parkettes in Pennsylvania, one of the top elite women’s gymnastics programs in the world, invited CNN into the gym a number of years ago to do a documentary.
Now … CNN editors could have done a piece showing how strong, dedicated, determined and fantastic are elite gymnasts â€” but that would not get good ratings.
An expose sells far better.
If you did not see the original documentary, it’s on YouTube:
CNN PRESENTS: Achieving The Perfect 10 – transcript
What got things abuzz again was a new edit montage including clips from the documentary. Click PLAY or watch it on YouTube.
It’s much better in every way than her original montage.
Aside from trying to generate ad revenue for CNN, a secondary purpose of the documentary was to bring some facts to light:
All true. I commend CNN for that. The general public needs to be better educated.
I advise athletes and parents of athletes NOT to accept invitation into an elite program unless you understand the risks.
Any coach who steps “over the line” should be disciplined and reprimanded. Even jailed.
Elite gyms should have an open door policy, parents welcomed to bring cameras and camcorders any time.
Girls who are unhappy with their elite training in Artistic have many other options: diving, cheer, circus, dance, fitness, etc. (I know a half dozen girls who switched to pole vaulting and were nationally ranked within a year.)
Here are the facts waiting to be highlighted by a future CNN documentary: (Don’t hold your breath.)
Gymnastics, trampoline and tumbling are still, in my opinion, the best sports available for girls. From that starting point they can do anything.
I go to many multi-sport coaching conferences. Each and every time I come away thinking that gymnastics coaches are the most impressive and dedicated of all. Our sport is the most difficult â€” and it develops the best coaches and athletes. Period.
Leave a comment below if you have something to add.
The bad reputation of Elite Women’s Artistic Gymnastics, especially within the medical community, is one of the biggest issues faced by all gymnastics coaches.
And I’m expecting a flood of bad press surrounding the selection of the American Team to the 2008 Olympics. There are many good candidates â€” but only a few can qualify.
The stories of those who do not make THE TEAM is are stories the media can sell.