In response to my last article, one reader raised some interesting questions. In essence, he asked if the sport of gymnastics poses certain dangers and detrimental aspects that other sports do not. For example, he asked does [gymnastics] put an inordinate amount of pressure to “fit” a certain body image? I’m thinking mostly of girls here, and the widespread image one sees in the elites and on the cover of gymnastics magazines of skinny…girls. I will attempt to answer his questions and a few others in a series of posts titled “Developmental or Detrimental? A Defense of Women’s Gymnastics”

Part I: Over-emphasis on Body Image

Because of the nature of gymnastics, it is essential for the athletes (men & women) to wear tight-fitting clothing. The athlete’s safety is put in danger when wearing loose clothing. A t-shirt can fall over the head of a gymnast while in mid-air, causing the athlete to lose spacial awareness and possibly injure themselves. Loose clothes (even shorts) have the potential to wrap themselves around the bar or bunch up when swinging and cause injury as well. This type of dress also represents a challenge for a coach who is spotting a gymnast. The coach’s hands can get caught in the loose garments and harm both athlete and coach.