As someone who grew up doing gymnastics in Massachusetts, I was surprised to learn, according to the haughty assertion of Paul Wetzel, a spokesman for the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association, my sport is “a girls’ sport.” I’m fairly certain that the International Olympic Committee would dispute Wetzel’s claim.
Since 1996, the US Men’s Gymnastics team has won a total of seven Olympic medals (one gold, four silvers, and two bronze). Men’s gymnastics, while similar to women’s in many regards, is a different sport entirely. While men compete in six events, women compete in four, for which skills and requirements are different. Wetzel, who was explaining that many more schools in the state field girls’ teams than boys’ teams, has apologized for making the remark.
Still, according to the organization’s “philosophy” on its website, the MIAA states that “ethics . . . and good sportsmanship (which is good citizenship) must be woven into the fabric of the high school athletic program.” I wonder, then, what is ethical and sportsmanlike about mischaracterizing a sport and emasculating its athletes.
I would remind Wetzel and the MIAA that the year is 2013, and while we all love Patriots quarterback Tom Brady, could he even come close to doing an iron cross on the rings?