Sunday, October 10, 2004

Blood Sports 2

Sports do not stay the same. It's rarely just a social change, such as turning volleyball with 6 players into beach volleyball with 2 players in bikinis. New sports are developed as new equipment makes things possible.

New equipment has radically changed gymnastics in the last 20 years. The routines that existed when Olga Korbut stuck her saults on beam and captivated the world seem incredibly easy. But equipment was wooden and not very springy.

Now certain skills are being prohibited from competition as being too dangerous. Yes, some people can do them, but they shouldn't be included in the allowable set of skills because of the extreme physical risk.

Example: saltos ending in a roll (1 ½ or 1 ¾ ) are now prohibited for women but not men (greater shoulder strength).

At the same time as this questionable progress, aerial skiing has been endorsed as an Olympic sport and in Australia we, scenting medals, are offering scholarships to any gymnasts or divers who want to change... especially retired gymnasts and divers who get a second bite at a sport doesn't yet prioritise girls over women.

Trouble is, it's a killer.

We don't let women box but we pay them to take up aerial skiing? I can't figure that out. I'd like to get per athlete per gender injury statistics for all of our sports and see what really makes sense!