Ruthless Pursuit of Gold: How China's Gymnastics Wins Set A Dangerous Precedent
From an athletic standpoint, there is nothing wrong with what the Chinese girls accomplished last night. I don't know what their age is, and didn't particularly care for the Keryoli's snide remarks about the issue in the aftermath.
Excellence is excellence, regardless of how far China went to bend the rules. If 12 to 14 year old girls can pull off those remarkable stunts, then more power to them.
What worries me far more than their age is the precedence it sets for future Olympics. Will we see further bending of these rules and practices like this continue? Will the Chinese continue their machinations of churning out young athletes at early ages, to handpluck them from youth for the singular process of enhancing the glory of the state?
Remember all the stories Al Trautwig spoke of with kids running home in tears only to be sent back by stern parents, knowing how good this would be for their family if they suceeded?
Yeah, these few made it, but think of all the countless other kids who failed. Where do their futures lie?
This isn't a cultural difference, it's coercion. And parents who believe that robbing their children of choice is acceptable are culpable of high levels of abuse.
Compare this to the American team, older, taller, plucky, yet seemingly more human. They ultimately chose their paths. Nastia Lukin and Shawn Johnson both stumbled at critical points, and Alicia Sacramone's angst was genuine as she faltered.
Yet only a few minutes later, most of them were gabbing like typical American teenagers, the pain of defeat temporal. And you know Sacramone won't be haunted by this for too long. She'll rebound back and get up again. Maybe she'll even punch a guy in the face.
When the Chinese team won, they cracked their first real smiles of the whole competition. You wonder how much their visages would have cracked had they lost, considering how high the stakes were for the host country. They've been conditioned not to accept failure by the state and their family, the worst thing a kid can learn.
When they stumble (and they will, everyone does), will they have the mental state to rebound? No one knows.
Just think about this when you're watching in 2012 in London, staring at the Chinese girls and wondering which daycares they were plucked out of before they could begin to speak, before they could choose where their destiny lied.
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