Tuesday, August 23, 2016

I’ll Tumble for Ya

No, I have no channeled my inner Boy George.  Anyone who was around during the ‘80s knows that this was one of Culture Club’s hits.  (Not sure what happened after that album.)  The title means something more than that.  I am talking about the Final Five.
(c) 2016 Olympic 
In case you have been living under a rock, have no access to the media (television, radio, newspaper, and the internet), in a coma, or anything else that has prevented you from finding out about this talented group of young women, they are the U.S. Gymnastics Team, the last team under Marta Karolyi. This coach along with her husband, Béla, have transformed the U.S Women’s Gymnastics Team into the powerhouse that it currently is, starting with Nadia Comãneci (even though she was for the Romanian team), and ending with this team.  Their legacy will be hard to match.  Marta retired with the Final Five, a name that the girls; Simone Biles, Madison Kocian, Gabby Douglas, Aly Raisman, and Laurie Hernandez, gave themselves, in honor of Mrs. Karolyi.  I will miss watching her at the Olympics.
To be a gymnast (male or female) takes years of hard work and dedication, pretty much like I had to do with dance.  Because of my disability, I cannot do so much as a cartwheel, but I wanted to do gymnastics.  Dance was the next big thing I could do.   I thought that since dance was an important element in the floor exercise routine, I could work my way up from there. 
Did I mention that you could not have a fear of heights?  During gym class one year, I got on the balance beam and almost cried.  Hey, you try doing a forward roll in a beam that is 4” wide and 4’ off the ground.  Uneven bars?  The gym teacher had me stand on the bottom bar.  Not only I could not reach over to the top (due to my short arms), but I started crying for real, so the teacher (who was a man) had to catch me to get me off. Vaults?  I do not want to talk about it.  Thus ended my gymnastics career, before it even got started, but hey, I could do a nice headstand. Thanks for the experience, 7th grade.
This is why I admire the women who could do it.  Each one of them had a special place on the team, and they supported each other.  There was no, “how dare she place better than me”, “I can do that tumbling pass in my sleep”, or “if she gets one more gold medal, I am going to throw up.” They were very supportive.  It was others outside of the team that had a backlash to these girls, especially towards Simone and Gabby, and I do not get it.
First with Simone.  Why do people like to bring up the past?  The media constantly brought up her mother (who by the way lives here in Columbus), her grandmother’s birthplace, and her adoption.  This is mostly aimed towards Bob Costas (who will never read this, but…), adoption is a beautiful thing, especially when a person (the birth mom) is not able to take care of the child or children.  It helps in two ways; it helps a child feel like they are wanted.  Everyone needs love and support, no matter what their background or circumstances are.  It also helps the person who is adopting.  Maybe they are unable to have kids, or maybe they wanted to give back.  You do not know the situation, and God has blessed Simone to be with her grandparents because the situation could have been worst. 
With Gabby Douglas, people were criticizing her hair, she did not put her hand over her heart during the National Anthem, she looks mean, she’s mad, blah, blah, blah.  My question to all of you haters is this: Did you ask her why she did not put her hand over her heart during the anthem?  She was caught up in the moment.  She was taking this in. First being selected to be one of five women to represent the United States in gymnastics for the second time in a row is a feat in itself, and then win a gold medal to show who is the best team, give her a break.  Next, the hair.  It is hard enough to keep a black head in check, which is one the reasons why my hair is in twists, so I should know, and many in the black community should know.  Next, you cannot wear too much product in your hair when doing something like flying from one bar to another, twisting and turn on a balance beam, doing a floor exercise, or vaulting.  You will slide all over the place.  I did not see people criticizing Simone’s hair.  Oh, wait, I forgot, people were still having questions about her parentage and that she came from a broken home.
The point to all of this is people do a lot a criticizing when someone is doing something great.  It does not matter if you are opening a new store (startup or expansion), feeding the homeless, starting a program for inner city kids (which is where Simone got her start in gymnastics), or doing a double pike layout with a double twist in the middle of a floor exercise routine, and winning a gold medal for it.   When a person criticizes you, it means that you are doing something right.  What I also do not get is how a person can so mean and cruel, and the other person lets that remark slide off, like water sliding off a duck’s back.
It has to do something with the person’s character and how they take things in the first place.  They have already been criticized by their teachers, coaches, and anyone who told them that they could not do it.  It is their upbringing that allows them to ignore the haters and celebrate the successes in life that God gave them.  For instance, when Gabby Douglas wanted to try gymnastics for the first time, coaches in her gym could have told her that they do not teach black children and this sport was not for her.  Today, because if her winnings in 2012, black children across the country want to try gymnastics.  Their thought process is, “If Gabby (and now Simone) can do it and make it, I can try to do the same.  Before that time, it was only Dominique Dawes who did professional gymnastics, and at the time, she was the only one.  Today, Dominique is a motivational speaker.
Sometimes I wonder if the team had been all one race if the views of the public would have been different.  After all, there were not criticism towards Aly, Laurie, and Madison.  After all, they did the same thing as Simone and Gabby.  Laurie, I believe, is the first Latina to be on the gymnastics team, and I have yet to hear about her hair being messy or that she came from a broken home.
We, as the African American race need to learn how to not put each other down, and to celebrate the accomplishments of others.  It is a moment to walk in someone else’s shoes and to understand what they went through to get there.  We have had so many people from other races put us down, until we, as a whole, do not know how to give a compliment.
Yes, we want our people to look good (getting back to the Gabby hair complaints), but as a meme said that I saw on Facebook, “you try to do a double back layout off of a 4” beam.”  In other words, “do you want me to look fly or fail?”  Sometimes we cannot walk and chew gum at the same time.  We, as humans expect someone to fail.  “It’s impossible”, but has anyone ever thought that with God, it is possible?  How else do you think anyone, even a runner in these games got through to get the Gold Medal, luck? If that is the case, then good luck with that logic.
Be grateful for the small things in life.  So you cannot tumble like Final Five, run like Usain Bolt, swim like Michael Phelps, or sing like Alicia Keys, but I bet somewhere inside you is a balling ass negotiator, a great graphic designer, a wonderful wife, a marvelous mommy, a dad that is killing it in the boardroom, all while being a person of God, or whoever you believe in.

2016 is your Olympic moment.  May it yours.  Celebrate others.  Be a team player in school, work, and at home.    

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