Woman gymnasts use tunes although adult men gymnasts do not — and the rationale dates back a century

The girls will leap and flip and tumble to recorded tunes. The men’s routines will be accompanied by silence.

The cause for the disparity dates back almost a century, when feminine gymnasts competed for the 1st time at the Olympics and procedures for their events were being founded. Professionals in gymnastics say expectations for feminine athletes have been different then.

But even though gals gymnasts these days are more impressive and athletic than their counterparts from the mid-1900s — from time to time even undertaking issues adult males are unable to do — factors of dance, choreographed to music, continue to be a essential component of their flooring physical exercises.

In other phrases, girls will have to execute their floor routines to new music.

Some say it can be time to do away with that rule.

Gals gymnastics had been traditionally envisioned to spotlight grace and femininity

Male gymnasts competed in the Olympics for the to start with time in 1896. Women’s gymnastics produced its debut a lot more than three many years afterwards, in 1928.

When girls started competing, the activity was personalized to in good shape the preconceived gender roles at the time, professionals say.

The British women's gymnastics team during the 1928 Olympics in Amsterdam, the first year female gymnasts competed in the Games.
Again then, men’s gymnastics routines were being anticipated to highlight strength even though women’s routines emphasised grace and femininity, claimed Georgia Cervin, a former global gymnast and author of “Levels of Issues: How Women’s Gymnastics Rose to Prominence and Fell from Grace.”

“When the activity was created for gals, they adapted the men’s sport to make it ‘appropriate’ for women of all ages,” Cervin stated. “Women ended up envisioned to do delicate, rhythmic, flowing, graceful movements that emphasized splendor and flexibility. This is why they perform to new music, and the adult males really don’t. Men’s ground routines ended up expected to emphasize strength instead.”

Feminine gymnasts also started out competing in the Olympics at a time when competitive sports activities ended up overwhelmingly noticed as masculine.

The Swiss men's gymnastics team at the 1928 Olympic Games in Amsterdam.

Involving the 1910s and the 1960s, vigorous training was thought of bad for women and their reproductive health, stated Jane Rogers, a curator at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History.

“Even physicians imagined demanding workout was negative for girls considering that gals had been meant to grow to be wives and mothers,” she stated. “Sports activities may possibly bodily injure ladies and depart them not able to accomplish their housework. Gals competed, but were being not afforded the very same options as their male counterparts.”

Women’s floor routines are scored on creative as effectively as athletic components

The policies governing gymnastics condition that women’s routines have to previous 90 seconds — 20 seconds lengthier than the males — and element songs all through.

Around the years, the songs has developed. In the 1960s, the rule was only 1 instrument could be used, so teams brought in their possess live pianist, Cervin explained. Then in the 1980s, cassette tapes had been allowed, which expanded the styles of audio gymnasts could use in their ground routines.

One particular rule hasn’t adjusted, nevertheless: The tunes might not involve any recognizable words and phrases.

“Lyrics have in no way been permitted, which is why we really don’t see gymnasts dancing to well known tunes pretty normally,” Cervin stated. “Or if we do, they’re addresses without the phrases.”

South Korea's Yunseo Lee competes during the Tokyo Olympic Games.

Judges award details to girls gymnasts for artistry, musicality and choreography, whilst the adult men are scored primarily on their acrobatic abilities — supplying them no incentive to increase artistic things to their routines, said Jason Woodnick, vice president of the men’s plan for Usa Gymnastics.

Because scoring is tied to choreography, women can get factors deducted if they finish their regime in advance of or soon after the tunes ends.There have been attempts to have men perform to songs, like the Soviet workforce at a 1978 invitational meet up with, but they in no way truly took off, Cervin mentioned.

“For the gentlemen, music isn’t really allowed for their ground routines,” claimed Lindsey Ayotte, the head feminine gymnastics coach at the University of New Hampshire. “There actually is not a need for it considering the fact that there isn’t really any dance ingredient to it. Their routines are primarily primarily based on higher-flying tumbling, toughness and electricity. It truly is not an possibility for them to use new music.”

Mark Williams, head mentor of men’s gymnastics at the University of Oklahoma, reported he thinks it makes feeling for ladies to have audio as portion of their floor routines.

“Men’s functions concentrate on the upper physique of the human anatomy, although ladies concentration on legs and running methods,” he mentioned.

Women’s gymnastics now places a lot more emphasis on toughness and athleticism

In 2021, some extensive-held expectations for woman gymnasts are getting challenged. For illustration, the German women’s gymnastics staff in Tokyo has shunned bikini-cut leotards in favor of unitards in a statement from the “sexualization” of female athletes.
Team USA's Sunisa Lee competes during the floor event of the artistic gymnastics women's team final at the Tokyo Olympic Games on July 27.

There is also a lot significantly less dance and artistry now in elite women’s gymnastics and a good deal additional energy and strength, explained the University of New Hampshire’s Ayotte.

“There is even now much more dance, leaps and jumps in women’s gymnastics that you will not see with the guys, but a whole lot of the females are performing the least in dance and doing a greater volume of higher-amount tumbling,” she mentioned.

Hyperathletic gymnasts this sort of as Staff USA’s Simone Biles are pushing boundaries and bridging gaps with their male counterparts.

Biles has 4 skills, or signature moves, named soon after her, which includes a triple-twisting, double-tucked backwards salto — a stunning flip that must be noticed to be considered.

Biles is carrying out factors that even adult males can not do, mentioned Williams, the University of Oklahoma mentor.

Simone Biles does a flip on the balance beam at the Tokyo Olympic Games.

“Simone is continuing a journey for gals gymnasts that truly started in the late 1960s and early 1970s, when they started to do additional tumbling to accompany their dancing, and that tumbling was rivaling the men’s in phrases of its difficulty,” Cervin said.

“Simone goes even more than that … and she’s doing it while also acquiring to expend her energy on dancing and leaping and turning and smiling throughout her schedule.”

Cervin explained she’d like to see “gendered anticipations” eradicated in gymnastics to make the sport much more inclusive and progressive. That way, adult men can include things like audio in their routines if they want to — and girls can decide to execute in silence.

Until that occurs, woman gymnasts will continue on jumping and flipping their way into the report books. And they’re going to do it to the rhythm of new music.

Marilynn Veness

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