26 July 2016

I've Got the Rhythm In Me

by Barb Goffman

Hell is freezing over. Anyone who knows me even slightly well will certainly think so when they realize that this week I am writing about .... yes, it's true ... sports.

I've never been into most sports. I don't like playing them. Or watching them. I've never had good hand-eye coordination, and every time a game comes on, I'm always itching to open a book.

But there are some exceptions. I like watching figure skating. (The beauty of the skaters gliding on the ice, combined with making flips and jumps and landing them with lightning precision--wow.)
And I'm a big fan of gymnastics too. Who doesn't remember Kerri Strug during the 1996 summer games, running on an injured ankle and vaulting herself and her USA teammates into Olympic gold?

There's one sport that mixes the beauty and athleticism of both skating and tumbling, and it has become a favorite of mine. Rhythmic gymnastics. And it's coming to a TV (or computer or other high-tech device) near you in just a few weeks, courtesy of the summer Olympics.
Never heard of rhythmic gymnastics? Maybe you've heard of it by its alternate name, something I've heard people sneer at: ribbon dancing. The entire sport was trolled during the last summer Olympics, with people declaring it's not a sport, that it's just dancing on a carpet with ribbons. The sport has been trolled so much that if you go to Team USA's website, they have a whole page explaining the athleticism involved in this sport. And yes, it is a sport. A beautiful one.

So what is it, for those who don't know? Picture a gymnast doing a tumbling routine, but at the same time, she has to keep a ribbon, hoop, ball, club, or rope constantly moving. The athletes perhaps are too good, making their routines look easy, which has encouraged
some people to declare rhythmic gymnastics to not be a sport. But these routines require skill and endurance, beauty and passion--sure sounds like a sport to me.

Not convinced? Check out Team USA's Laura Zeng compete with a ball during the 2015 World Rhythmic Gymnastics championships. 

So I'm excited for the rhythmic gymnastics portion of this summer's Olympics. The competition is scheduled near the end of the games, August 19 - 21st. Want to learn more in advance? NBC has some information about this year's USA team on their website. Click here to check it out.

If you've ever participated in rhythmic gymnastics, I'd love to hear from you in the comments. What's it really like? How hard it is to learn to do? Please share for those of us who love this sport. And for everyone else, what's your favorite part of the Olympics?


  1. I'll kick the comments off with a thought I had early this morning. People who troll rhythmic gymnastics because it's not sporty enough for them are similar to people who troll types of writing because it's not good enough for them. There are always people sneering down at others. Some people don't like short stories because (honestly I've heard this), they're not long enough. Some people don't like genre stories because they aren't highfalutin enough. In the end, if it's good writing, it's good writing. And if it's a sport you enjoy watching, then that's good enough too.

  2. My husband always used to say if there isn't an offense and defense it's not a sport. However, I think while our daughter was a cheerleader, and he saw how much strength and practice it took, he changed his opinion. Or at least he quit saying it out loud.

    1. Smart. Besides there are lots of sports without two teams. Diving comes first to mind. How does he feel about diving?

  3. That routine by Laura Zeng was absolutely gorgeous. I admit I'd never heard of rhythmic gymnastics & probably would have turned up my nose at "ribbon dancing". I took ballet class as a child, never was very good at it.

  4. My favorite summer Olympic sports are diving and gymnastics.
    Of course, this year another Olympic sport may have to be avoiding mosquitoes...

  5. I took ballet as a child, too, Elizabeth. Knowing how difficult it is makes these athletes' accomplishments all the more impressive, because what they do is a type of ballet.

    And Eve, yes, the mosquitoes. Such a shame that the Rio games are having so many issues, including those mosquitoes. I hope the games go well. (I'll be watching the diving and gymnastics, too. The diving because it will look so refreshing. The East Coast heat has to break sometime, right?)

  6. Bob likes to watch diving but it doesn't have an offense.

  7. I'm also a big fan of these sports, Barb, and I'll be watching too. My hubby is like Sherry's- he appreciates the athleticism, but maintains that sports are contests. So if judges are giving scores, then it's not his idea of sport. But he was our daughter's biggest supporter during her figure skating years. Another related thought. Years ago, the NY Times write about this subject. They scored ballet dancer Edward Villela against other athletes in terms of agility, balance, etc. Villela won (it was close) might have been because he was also a boxer, but a fascinating look at the topic. Cool post, Barb. From another wanna be ballerina.

  8. Thanks for stopping by, Shari. For many years, my grandparents had a huge framed photograph in their apartment of me in a leotard and tutu, right out there for everyone to see. I'm still cringing.

    1. I am so grateful my ballet days were pre-Facebook. Who am I kidding? Pre video!


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