Thursday, April 30, 2009

Gymnastics = Full time job?

Part 1
----> This is a documentary called Pursuing the Perfect Ten. It is mostly about the Parquette's training center and was made by CNN.

The Child labor law for the United States of America for 14-15 year olds is as follows:

"During the school year, hours are limited to 3 hours a day and 18 hours a week. On days when there's no school and in the summer, working hours increase to 8 hours a day and 40 hours a week. There are limits on when children can work, too - no later than 7 p.m. during the school year and no later than 9 p.m. between June 1 and Labor Day. Fourteen- and 15- year-olds may be employed in restaurants and quick-service establishments outside school hours in a variety of jobs for limited periods of time and under specified conditions" (source).

-Observation 1- Gymnastics is a full time job. For one 10 year old at the Parquette's Gym, practice is required 4-5 hours a day, 5 days a week. As stated above the law for 14 to 15 year olds is that during the school year they are only allowed, by law, to work 3 hours a day and not after 7 p.m. All of the elite gymnasts at Parquette's Gym are home schooled or tutored and spend at least 4-5 hours a day training (probably more because the 10 year old who states this information is on the verge of becoming an elite but is still level 10). Also, it can be assumed that most gymnastics practices do not finish before 7 p.m. Most of these girls are under age 14 which makes it illegal for them to hold jobs during the school year at all.

-Should gymnastics be considered a job?
*It is physically and mentally straining.
*It takes up the majority of gymnasts' free time (if not all of it).
* Gymnast's coaches are comparable to having boss (or worse then).
* It is considered the number one priority in a gymnasts life (a lot of the time).

-Should children be allowed to spend all of their time participating in a sport when their number one priority is supposed to be school?
- Why is it okay for gymnasts to pull half days or simply get tutored so that they can rise to fame? -Why are exceptions made for gymnasts but not for other children?
-Is not going to school daunting for gymnast's social lives?

*These are all questions which you must ask yourself before you decide to enroll your child in competitive gymnastics with the intent for them to become a star. Tune in for more on the Achieving the Perfect 10 documentary. *

Wednesday, April 29, 2009

The Fall From Grace

But when does gymnastics go from being a sport of grace and agility, to a sport of condemned death? When is it okay for twelve year olds to die from bone disease and paralysis complications, especially when these things are not freak- accidents but due to the level of intensity with which they are pushed in gymnastics at too young of an age? It is not often that people stop to think that competitive (mainly elite) gymnasts can suffer trauma's from the sport which cannot always simply be reversed or forgotten. Although eating disorders, mental and physical abuse, a loss of social life, injuries and stunted growth are all side effects of gymnastics which can be "overlooked" by many, can death be as easily "overlooked"? I am not saying that every elite gymnast will die from complications brought on from a side effect of her competitiveness and young age at excelling in the sport but I just want everyone to realize that death is not an impossible reality. Unfortunately, gymnasts "fall from grace" everyday and sometimes the fall is life taking.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Crying Chinese Gymnasts

Little Chinese Children's Gymnastics Training
This video is proof of the intensity of training that gymnasts must endure. In China, children are trained, almost from the womb, to be flexible and co-ordinated. Is this why the Chinese gymnasts were so underage at the 2008 Olympics? This video shows a view of gymnastics which can only be categorized as child abuse. Stretching children's still developing bodies beyond their limits is both painful and dangerous for little bodies. In America, kicking children would be considered child abuse yet in these Chinese videos it seems permissible. Although, "China lags behind developed countries in the prevention of child abuse...many non-governmental institutions are active in the prevention of child abuse" ( source). Although training for China looks like it is harsher than American training, because of our bias towards Americans and against other countries, it can be just as bad in many of the same and different ways.