I don’t know who won the Women’s World Gymnastics Championship in Tokyo yet, but I saw enough to make a few observations:
1 – The American team had whites, Asians, one African-American, and one Hispanic girl. All the other teams were completely homogenous when it came to race. That made me feel pretty good.
2 – The girls demonstrated once more the difference between men’s sports and women’s sports: men strive to be the best athlete, and so do women—but in order to win, women have to do it beautifully. I’ve found this is true in nearly every walk of life, not only in sports, but in entertainment and in the business place.
I remember the epiphany I had at one symphony I’ve seen in my life, Beethoven’s Ninth at Benaroya Hall in Seattle. We were in the third row and I loved the music, but what struck me was the difference in how the male and female musicians had dressed for the performance. The men, as talented as they were, obviously did not worry too much about their appearance. My eyes (trained by 20 years of undergoing and later conducting military inspections) saw the ones whose hair was unkempt, whose clothing was rumpled or out of place, and some who just didn’t seem as if they had bathed beforehand.
The women, on the other hand, were perfect—their hair and their dresses. No detail had been overlooked. It was then that I realized that the women weren’t being perfect in order to show off to the men or to attract the opposite sex. They had to be perfect, because every single woman in the audience was searching the female musicians with a critical eye for a flaw—any flaw. Now I can better understand why it is my Darling, when she watches news or reality shows, is able to comment so quickly on how this or that actress has changed, whether her hair is longer or shorter or a different shade, or if she’s gaining or losing weight.
One more example would be the Mr. and Miss Universe contests. The Mr. Universe contest, like all similar contests, simply consists of seeing which man is more perfectly musclebound. The Miss Universe contest, on the other hand, tests the real talents of the girls—their singing or piano playing or whatever—and also tests their awareness of current events in the questions to the finalists. Unlike the men, the women must compete on every level, but in the final analysis they must win beautifully.
And so it is with the female gymnasts, and all competitions of women in sport and entertainment. They cannot win if they don’t win beautifully. This is just another reason I count myself fortunate indeed for being a man, for I don’t know if I could handle the pressure that women put on each other!
3 – There was a 36-year-old contestant, a woman named Oksana from Germany. It’s frankly amazing to see someone old enough (if barely) to be a grandmother really competing at the World Championship level—and she won a silver medal!