While I was sleeping

While I was sleeping or working whatever works the 2014 US Figure Skating Nationals were given to Boston. Unless it is at the Fleetcenter (where I was have to think about it) I was be there.

Title X: Top 40 female athletes

Explain to me how Mary Lou Retton ends up on these lists?

Olympic Year laughers Marta got lucky. The up till 2000 quad were overrated spoiled brats with self entitlement issues led by Kelly Hill were just not very good at gymnastics. Atler was good at Vault (not great her form was messy) and others had some talent on specific events but the two words Kristin Maloney as your best gymnast a girl that was the last Olympic Trials qualifier the quad before being your best gymnast should be ringing bells.

Olympic Selection procedures AKA Marta rules.

Dominique Moceanu will be on 20/20 Friday night. Some explosive news will be revealed. Yada, yada, yada. Maybe If I believed a word out of her mouth. I can’t believe ABC will put her on so she can make stuff up but news these days does not surprise me.

10 Responses to “While I was sleeping”

  1. sanitynmotion Says:

    How is some softball pitcher higher-ranked than Michelle Kwan? I have no clue who that person is. I would have even thought Jennie Finch or whatever would have beat that person.

    And Mary Lou Retton would not be on ANY of these lists had those Games not taken place during the Cold War. Sorry. Shawn Johnson should be on that list higher than her…and even Nastia Liukin (sorry) has a better medal haul than she does or ever did – and WHERE IS SHANNON MILLER (hello?! MOST decorated US gymnast of all time?)…this list should be renamed to “Top MARKETABLE 40 Female Athletes” if you ask me. Stupid.

    And you’re absolutely correct. WOGA, Shawn Johnson, and even Gage would have been there without Marta. Same with this year’s crop. Marta doesn’t add anything to this mix but broken bodies, fear, and subordination.

    • terrigymfan Says:

      Shannon is the greatest US gymnast of all time bar none. If any US gymnast should be on the list, it should be her. Mary Lou was the luckiest gymnast of all time – a product of a boycotted Olympics and home cooking judging. A media created sensation.

      • sanitynmotion Says:

        Yup, Mary Lou and Britney Spears.

      • terrigymfan Says:

        I took a closer look at this list. At first I thought it was the top 40 female athletes of any country, but now I realize it is the top 40 US female athletes. Mary Lou at 38 is the only gymnast on the list thus far. They still haven’t revealed 1-13 though. Now, optimistically Shannon should be one of those 13 but I am afraid she will not be. This will not only be ridiculous in that Shannon is much greater than Mary Lou, it will be a slap in the face of US female gymnasts in general. I am an runner and swimmer, but I have always said I think there are no better athletes than gymnasts. Women’s gymnastics gets no respect in the general sports world. I hate that.

        I actually think the semi-centralized training system is a good idea, and I even like the Karolyi Ranch as the National Olympic Training Center. It really is a nice facility and I like the way it is isolated and away from a lot of distractions. The problem is the person they have as National Team Coordinator – Marta. If they put the right person in that position is would not be a bad system in my view. However, they also need to get rid of this totally discretionary, backroom way of selecting the Olympic team. They need to go back to selecting at least 4 members based on a combination of a prestated percentage of the scores at Nationals and a percentage of the scores at Trials. If someone is hurt and misses both Nationals and Trials that is just too bad. (What other sport allows an athlete no matter how great who is hurt during a qualifying event to just be “waived” into the championship game or onto a team? It would be like “waiving” Raphael Nadal into the finals of Wimbledon even though he missed the early rounds due to injury). Perhaps they can reserve one spot for selection by a committee since they might need a specialist. Giving all power in the gymnastics world to one person like they have with Marta is a horrible idea.

    • terrigymfan Says:

      There is a jockey on the list at 39 just behind Mary Lou. I am sorry – a jockey on this list and no Shannon. Outrageous.

      I would love to hear everybody’s thoughts on why female gymnasts get so little respect as athletes in the US. I wonder if it is because it is still viewed as a “little girl” sport while the others are viewed as “adult” sports. Maybe it has to do with there being no professional version of the sport but that doesn’t explain why so many runners and other Olympic athletes are on the list.

      • sanitynmotion Says:

        I think it’s media appeal more so than athletic prowess that made these women on this type of list. Gymnasts are not typically “media darlings” because you’re right – they have this uncanny sense of grit, determination, and focus. Not saying that other athletes don’t have this, but on a competitive stage it’s not like you see gymnasts smiling much or goofing around or really trying to catch fan attention. They don’t get that “last hurrah” after winning of, say, running around a track field waving their flags or celebrating after out-touching the swimming lane next to them by 0.0000001 of a second (haha). They’re almost in their own world (which you’d have to be for the most part to stay on something like a balance beam!)…gymnasts like Shawn Johnson are very rare – having the media appeal (bubbly personality, smile) all the while being able to focus hard and win big. Also, gymnastics and figure skating are truly ultra-feminine sports for the most part, so “media appeal” is somewhat limited to a smaller fan base. I know some of our husbands can appreciate gymnastics for what it is, but how many of them would go out and publicly say “gymnastics is cool – did you see that release move Gabby did?”…yeah, not gonna happen. But if a female tore off her shirt at the end of a competition in celebration, then that’s going to totally get the “water cooler” talk. It’s the “drama” of the sport too. Not much drama in gymnastics after a win, really. The closest thing you’ll see to this is Kerri Strug’s vault in ’96…I mean, there’s been plenty of controversial crap happening in gymnastics, but it’s not dramatic enough to pull a large crowd in (not too many people probably know/care about the whole vault controversy at the Sydney games)…

        Even though we can list the “true” US gymnastic greats – Shannon Miller (beyond a shadow of a doubt), Kim Zmeskal, Carly Patterson (got to give her some credit for winning AA gold at a non-contested games), among many others…the only ones that really have been able to capture fame/continued endorsements in this sport are Mary Lou and Shawn Johnson. Mary Lou for sure – she seems to never go away. Shawn Johnson is way more marketable than Nastia Liukin – for looks, but more for personality. Sometimes I wonder what would have happened had Shawn come away from Beijing without a gold medal of some sort. It’s helped extremely with the way she’s been marketed as “Olympic gold medalist” (which probably makes Nastia hate life) – I really do think though that her comeback effort would have been taken more seriously in the last few months. I still can’t help but wonder if all of the emerging sponsorships/endorsements weren’t swaying her away from her training, because I have a feeling if Bounty and that book deal didn’t come along, we’d be seeing at least some of her at these nationals. It was only after these things were dying down in the first place that she started her comeback (after DWTS and all that)…when it all started showing up again during the Olympic year, it was probably too hard to turn down.

      • terrigymfan Says:

        I just love reading your comments Sandy. They are always so thoughtful and informative.
        The one thing that is throwing me though is that many of the athletes on the Top 40 are not really media darlings. In fact, many are fairly obscure from the standpoint of the general public. What I am wondering is not so much why few women gymnasts in the US become “media darlings,” but instead why most sports journalists, other than those actually involved in gymnastics, do not seem to give gymnasts much respect as “athletes.” Whoever put together this list, for example, seems to only have begrudgingly put a gymnast on the list at all, and even then put her almost at the bottom (and of course as you and I both agree got the wrong one). It’s like the vast majority of mainstream sports journalists seem to think gymnasts are just not the “athletes” that soccer players, tennis players, basketball players, golfers, runners, swimmers (indeed those from almost any other sport) are. I always wondered why that is the case, especially since in my view gymnasts are the most incredible athletes of all.
        I don’t think it is because generally speaking gymnasts are not very emotional or effusive. That definitely explains why some gymnasts become media/fan favorites while other more accomplished gymnasts do not, but many of the athletes on that list are not particularly outgoing or emotional. (I do agree though that I wish more female gymnasts would show a little more emotion/happiness after doing well).
        I am tempted to say the reason is that most gymnasts have a very brief window in which they are competing at the highest level, sometimes only two or three years. I think that does explain it partially but not entirely since some of the athletes from other Olympic sports have only just a few years in which they compete at the highest level.
        I personally think the main reasons come down to couple of things (I’ll admit this is just my opinion and I have no proof of any of this). The first is that as a general rule gymnasts are so much smaller than the athletes from these other sports. I just think there is a general bias that smaller athletes – particularly those smaller than even average-sized people — are just not as athletic as, for example, a powerful, muscular 5’10” woman who weighs 160 lbs. (I don’t count the jockey – she was probably put on the list just to have at least one representative from the horse racing world).
        Gymnasts also are generally much younger when they are in their prime than athletes from other sports. Most of the greatest gymnasts were 14-18 when they were in their prime, while most other great female athletes are in their twenties. This again goes back to the idea that a lot of people are just not going to give a teenage (and often young teenage) athlete the same status as an adult athlete.
        When you mentioned that gymnasts tend to be “ultra-feminine” I think you hit on something. I know I may cause a little controversy by saying this, but the vast majority of gymnasts appear and act in a very conventionally heterosexual way. Let’s face it – that doesn’t square with the masculine image many (certainly not all) women athletes in a lot of other sports project. I’m wondering if there is not a certain almost of bias against gymnasts as “athletes” because they do not fit this stereotypical image of the woman athlete Of course, figure skaters don’t either but I think there are other factors (mainly they usually are older) that counteracts this factor.
        BTW, you mentioned that gymnasts, being ultra-feminine, tend to appeal to a narrow fan market, namely young girls. You would think their being ultra-feminine would make them more appealing to men (and most women too) than the more masculine female athletes from other sports. This is where I think the age factor comes into play. Let’s face it, advertisers who use women athletes in ads not specifically targeted toward young girls want athletes who project “sex appeal.” Thankfully, most of us are very uneasy seeing that type of advertising when it uses teenage girls, particularly younger teenage girls (15 and 16 year olds) which is often the case with gymnasts. I think that is one reason figure skaters tend to do better in getting endorsements than gymnasts. You are so right that it wouldn’t hurt some of these girls to smile every once in awhile when they have performed a good routine.

      • sanitynmotion Says:

        Sorry Terri I only looked at the front page type of finalists, i.e. Mary Lou, Lindsey Vonn, Katerina Witt (who I totally loved but then that slipped a bit when I read she posed for Playboy)…and the first thing that popped into my head was “media darling.” I think you hit the nail on the head though about the short lifespan of a gymnast, so since they aren’t technically on the radar long enough it’s hard to define any particular “one” out of a set of all that would be an epitome of sorts for the sport (besides Shannon Miller, that is – who is the only gymnast I can think of that basically was the dominant force for ALMOST A DECADE).

        I also think you’re totally correct about them being younger in general and therefore can’t be marketed with the same sort of “sex appeal” you see other women marketed for…although the Williams sisters are out of this category (sorry, I know that’s catty but I can’t say it’s not true). ASac has definitely recently been marketed for this (ESPN Body issue or something like that, where she poised naked doing that awful-looking split she does on balance beam…ew, anyway I digress…but she can only do this because now she’s 24 and it’s not as “icky”).

        The youth of a typical gymnast and the very tiny window of opportunity they have to demonstrate being the best in their sport are both large barriers for gymnasts in general for them to be taken seriously. Shawn Johnson was the only one of late that I can think of to be able to break this barrier successfully, and it’s amazing: she was only really a senior for two years, and she DOMINATED those two years and was the face of gymnastics so that she was able to leave somewhat of a legacy. This type of thing (leaving a legacy after having been dominant for only two years) is nearly impossible, so you must have some other feature (charisma, charm, etc.) that makes you appealing to the broader fan base. Anyways, in terms of journalists taking gymnasts seriously – this might change in the next few years given the age rule. Now that more gymnasts are being forced to prolong their careers it might be possible that more and more of them will have the chance to establish some sort of legacy. I hate to say it, but Nastia is totally taking advantage of this as we speak.

      • terrigymfan Says:

        I think Shannon had a few things going against her that has resulted in her not getting the respect she deserves. First, when she had her finest performance, which was at the 1992 Olympics, she was just so tiny (I think she was 4’6” tall and weighed 69 lbs ) and still look so much a “little girl.” Again, I think there is a definite bias against athletes whose greatest performances occured when they were still a “child” or were at least perceived to be that way. By 1996 she had matured into a grown woman, but her individual performance that year was overshadowed by the team’s performance (the Mag 7, Kerri Strug’s landing, all that). The fact that, as you point out, she had a prolonged period of dominance in non-Olympic years too seems to earn her no credit, which is the same for all gymnasts really (quite frankly, only really serious gymnastics fans pay the slightest attention to anything that happens outside of Olympic years). And the fact that she was so painfully shy and awkward as a teenager, and therefore never became a media darling, doesn’t help her cause any. She was the very epitome of inner grit, determination, and courage when it came to competing but was the polar opposite from a social standpoint. I am so happy that as an adult she has overcome her social awkwardness and shyness and is now so poised and outgoing.

  2. JAS4 Says:

    Didn’t look but did Nastia make the list as well lol
    And yeah USAG thinks Marta is queen of gymnastics and without her there would be no good gymnast in other countries either in their world Marta is still the reason Romania has good gymnast even though she’s been in the USA for like thirty years

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