I realized tonight while watching the Olympics that I apparently know nothing about my “favorite sport”—women’s gymnastics. (I guess that tells you something about how much I like sports...) First of all, I was completely confused by the new scoring system. Second, I guess the Romanians suck now.
I found the commentators’ conversation about the Romanian team almost more annoying than the F.I.G.’s confiscation of the perfect 10. Basically, the two reasons they gave for Romania's downfall were: 1) Nadia Comaneci no longer inspires young girls (vague and random explanation I didn’t understand until I Googled the issue and found this one, lonely and fairly old article), and 2) the gymnasts are no longer the uber-disciplined robots they used to be.
To elaborate on the second explanation, first one commentator reminisced about how the old Romanian teams never stopped working, comparing them with disdain to the current team, who she apparently saw chatting around the chalk box during practice. Gasp! What lazy wastes of spandex! Then the other commentator mentioned after one of the gymnasts fell and must have been hugged or something by her coach (I was Googling and didn’t see) that in the old days, a gymnast who messed up would never get a high five or hug or anything from her coach (perhaps she would just get an electric shock?). Then he quickly added something like, “I’m not saying that’s the way it should be—I’m just saying…” as an afterthought. Hm.
According to the CHINAdaily.com article I found, Octavian Belu and Mariana Bitang, Romanian coaches of the last Olympic team, “faced criticism over their iron discipline and allegations of psychological abuse and demanding cuts from gymnasts' prize money.” Hm. I’m not saying child abuse and exploitation don’t produce champions—I’m just saying… it’s pretty f-ed up.