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2008 Olympics: Don’t Worry, Alicia, We Probably Won’t Remember This

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I knew there was a reason gymnastics was hard to watch. Not because the feats are hard to do. But because if someone falls … it’s the worst feeling in the world. No, it literally hurts. This isn’t a metaphor. A straight shiv to the kidney. I’m actually bleeding, and I probably should have gone to the hospital hours ago.

And a bevy of mothers and empathetic citizens of the world probably ache as well for the unfortunate competitors who take a spill. In this case, the competitor is US gymnast Alicia Sacramone, who fell twice in the team gymnastics competition yesterday. This helped vault China toward the gold medal with a final score of 188.9, beating the Americans by two points.

Clearly Sacramone’s life is over. All she has left to fall back on is an Olympic silver medal, an Ivy League education (she goes to Brown University), and her looks. Tough break, kid.

C’mon. Nobody — outside of some troglodytic rabid fan that has to legally inform neighbors of his presence whenever he moves somewhere — is going to condemn the 20-year-old Sacramone like they might, say, 20-year-old kickers who shank field goals in a big college football rivalry game. Or a 22-year-old baseball pitcher blowing two World Series games. Given everything that goes into training for the Olympics, coupled with how much emotional stock and Vegas odds we Americans put into gymnastics, nobody can be called a loser when they leave China with a shiny medal around their neck.

Hey, it would’ve been cool if they won gold. But it’s not the only medal they’re handing out in Beijing, they’re not getting paid to compete, and life moves on.

And, honestly, in about three days I’m probably going to forget about those falls. It’s safe to say most others will too.

Maybe “forget” is the wrong word. Perhaps instead we’ll try to put it out of our mind, because it was just not a fun sports moment. In contrast, the six Chinese girls, who were separated from their families so they could learn master flips and twists since the age of 3, were rewarded with gold, something female Chinese gymnasts have never done before. That was fun to see. Even if Bela Karolyi fervently believes they’re 14 years old.

(While we’re on that subject, how the hell is competing someone younger than the age minimum considered gaining an advantage? They’re less experienced. Less developed. It’s basically the exact opposite of the Danny Almonte gambit. If going young was a smart move, the Park County pee wee hockey team would have trounced the Detroit Red Wings.)

In fact, I know I will probably forget the falls. In fact, just recently I read that the US women’s gymnastics team also made crucial errors in the 2004 Olympics, which cost them gold. Fascinating! Because I don’t remember that at all. So hopefully the un-fun memory leaves my brain sometime in the near … wait, who’s this Alicia girl? She’s cute. Is she a gymnast?

(Photo credit: Al Bello/Getty Images)

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  • LAWLgeegeepub

    “While we’re on that subject, how the hell is competing someone younger than the age minimum considered gaining an advantage? They’re less experienced. Less developed. It’s basically the exact opposite of the Danny Almonte gambit.”

    Obviously written by someone who doesn’t understand the physics involved in gymnastics.

  • http://lisam75 Lisa

    I think Alicia did a great job considering all the pressure these girls are under…..don’t listen to him honey!

  • nicolas

    zomg how kuld u insult tht grl?!?!

    seriously, people. sarcasm.

    it is true that those chinese girls are young, though the exact advantages/disadgantages can be debated til we turn blue.

    and it is also true that most folks outside of (insert olympic sport here) fans dont have a memory longer than 4 years for successes OR failures.

  • Yianna

    I dont know why Karoly if figting for the chinese girls age, because Dominique Moceanue when she competes in the Olympics she was 14 yrs old!

  • Becca

    Hmmm… let’s see, younger girls are smaller, lighter, more flexible and have less muscle mass to flip and twist around. All of which are definitely advantages in this sport.

  • The Obnoxious American

    I think the fact that in Olympics, a single mess up means “The End”, we might actually end up with less talented folks winning medals.

    I’m not saying it’s always this way, and this does NOT apply to the Shawn Johnson’s or Michael Phelps of the world, but to get a routine right on the first shot, when it matters, isn’t all skill. It’s part luck too. In any other sport, athletes have an opportunity to fix their mistakes.

    The NY Giant’s kicker Lawrence Tynes, missed 2 kicks to win the game against Green Bay in the NFC championship. But third “Tynes” the charm! I’m sure even guys like Kobe or MJ missed shots occassionally. Had they been gymnasts, it would have ended right there.

    To win in Olympic Gymnastics, isn’t all skill, it’s part luck too. Hence the best don’t always win.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    Hall of Fame closer Dennis Eckersley — and few can argue that Eck wasn’t one of the best in the business — routinely gets asked about that home run he gave up to Kirk Gibson in the World Series. (The one Jack Buck didn’t believe he just saw.)

  • The Obnoxious American

    Sure, but to my point (quoted from wikipedia)

    “and in the 1989 World Series he secured the victory in Game Two, and then earned the save in the final game of the Series, as the A’s swept the San Francisco Giants in four games.”

  • http://www.maskedmoviesnobs.com El Bicho

    How does their age have anything to do with the amount of experience? It’s the hours put in training.

    And why only point to Alicia? All three women stepped out of bounds on the floor exercise, so adding back in the two points Alicia’s falls cost, they still would have lost.

    Considering the whole contest is subjective since points are awarded for what you say you will attempt and no one does the same routine, the events seem rather silly in comparing one better than another.

  • http://www.futonreport.net/ Matthew T. Sussman

    “And why only point to Alicia? All three women stepped out of bounds on the floor exercise, so adding back in the two points Alicia’s falls cost, they still would have lost.”

    You sound like you’re on the team.

    Valid enough. Each fall is, what, 0.8 points? Plus a couple other incremental deductions, it’s still probably less than 2.0. The reasoning is Sacramone’s two big gaffes came first, and her teammates knew they had to be (more) flawless to compete for gold. Also, Sacramone was the captain of the team and also the oldest.