Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Why isn't gymnastics more popular?

As I was explaining my absence from The Anti-Girlfriend last week--it was simply too much to juggle world championships, this site and another site (not to mention a job)-- I posited that perhaps gymnasts are the most anti-girlfriend of all athletes.

It's something I've been thinking about for awhile-- not the un-dateability of gymnasts but why the sport itself will never be a big spectator sport. This also puzzled me when I was younger. Why, I wondered, did people want to watch golf or basketball or baseball but not gymnastics? After all, what is cooler? Putting around on the green or flipping on the beam? (Please forgive me for that rhyme.)

One of the conclusions I came to (which I also discuss in the anti-girlfriend post) is that in sports such as soccer or golf or baseball, the weekend warrior and the elite athlete are separated by degree. Most people can play soccer or imagining playing soccer on some level even if they don't play very well. If you run you can certainly envision running faster. Same goes for basketball, baseball and most certainly golf. It is not hard to imagine oneself doing any of these activities.

As for gymnastics-- not so much. Unless you've done gymnastics (and even if you have), watching gymnastics leaves you in awe. It very rarely inspires flights of fancy during which you believe you could actually do anything you just witnessed onscreen. It creates awe, which is a form of distance. So every four years in the context of the Olympics, gymnastics is popular. But because it is viewed at such a literal and imaginative distance, it will probably never attain a mass popularity.

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