Saturday, November 26, 2011

1994 National Championships and the Confederate flag?

On the International Gymnast message board, there is currently a thread which asks fans, "Which is your favorite national championships?" The originator of this thread listed 1994 when Dominique Dawes swept the all around and all of the event finals.

I recall this event dimly. I was such an ardent Shannon Miller fan at that time that I only watched the competition (which I had recorded) once or twice because it was too painful for me to see Miller place second repeatedly. I was a pretty intense 11-year-old kid when it came to things like that.

Anyway, at the suggestion of this message board post, I decided to stroll down memory lane and watch the competition again. Thankfully, at 28 I am able to accept and enjoy Dawes' victory. Ah, maturity.

Yet as I was watching I was unsettled by an unexpected sight. As I appreciated Dawes' excellent choreography (take note elites of today: it is possible to do four tumbling passes and still fit in some quality dance) I noticed a Confederate flag behind the African American gymnast as she danced and tumbled. Go to :51 if you want to see the image.

It turns out that this is the state flag of Georgia, which was officially changed in 2001 to remove this symbol. Typically strolls down gymnastics memory lane make one feel nostalgic for an era of a more artistic sport but this trip made me appreciate that some things in the present are a bit better. 


Mikala Renee said...

This specific championship was held in my home of Nashville, Tennessee, not Georgia. And everyone was quiet and watching intently. Dom was the only one performing on the floor, everyone else was done. And regardless of racism or not Dominique Dawes was, and has always been, loved in the gymnastics world. By all kinds of people, black, white, Asian, etc. even Mary Lou Retton, LOVED Dominique. I think you're reading a little too much into this. Because the 96 championships were held at UT Knox in Tennessee.

Dvora Meyers said...

I know that it was held in Nashville and despite my youthful allegiance to Shannon Miller, I've also always liked Dawes. Just my 11 year old self didn't like it when Dawes defeated Miller.

I was merely pointing out a time in the not-so-distant past when the state flag of Georgia contained Confederate iconography and how jarring it was to see it onscreen. It was hanging there not out of racism per se but because ALL OF THE STATE FLAGS WERE HUNG UP, TOO.