Why Reducing the Gymnastics Team in 2020 is Absolutely Ridiculous
Start writing a post

Why Reducing the Gymnastics Team in 2020 is Absolutely Ridiculous

As Aly Raisman says, "What's next, a team of one?"

Why Reducing the Gymnastics Team in 2020 is Absolutely Ridiculous
ET Online

This week has been one of—if not the—most successful weeks in history for U.S. gymnasts. Simone Biles and Aly Raisman took gold and silver medals in the all-around competition, and the U.S.A. team won the gold for their outstanding performance in the team competition. At the team performance, after finding out about their amazing feat, they raised their hands in the air as they yelled their official team nickname—“We are the Final Five!”

The team named themselves the “Final Five” both as an honor to national team coordinator Martha Karolyi, who is retiring from her job, and the fact that they are the last team of five gymnasts at the olympics—the team that competes in the 2020 Tokyo olympics will only boast four gymnasts.

It has been evident over the years that the team size is shrinking. Back in 1996, when the U.S. clinched their first team gold medal, they had seven gymnasts, hence their famous nickname “The Magnificent Seven.” After that, the team size was reduced to six, until 2012 when the “Fierce Five” stepped up to the plate and clinched the second ever team gold medal. This has already caused disappointment for many fans, but this even further reduction of team size seems to be the absolute last straw, for many fans, coaches, and gymnasts (including me).

Last year, the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) announced this change. Teams would be able to qualify up to six gymnasts to compete in the games, but only four gymnasts would be able to compete in the team final. FIG announced that they made this change in order to “make the qualification more fair”—in other words, they believe that the U.S.’s dominance in the sport is makes it harder for gymnasts from less qualified countries to qualify and obtain spots on the podium.

I find this change to be absolutely ridiculous. I am all for the competition being more fair, but I do not believe that reducing the team size will make it more fair.

For one, there are many gymnasts who are not strong on all events—Madison Kocian, for example, was picked for the olympic team solely for her extraordinary talent on the uneven bars, and in 2012, McKayla Maroney only competed on vault—she did not even attempt to qualify for any other events. Plus, not all gymnasts even compete on all events in the team finals, so reducing the number will not reduce the number of gymnasts who compete on each event in the team final, and will not make any difference in how the team scores turn out.

Reducing the size of the team will not make any difference in terms of individual and all-around medaling either. Again, not all gymnasts are strong on all events. Even Simone Biles, who is currently considered to be the best female gymnast in the history of the sport, is not as strong on the bars as Madison Kocian and Gabby Douglas, both who were picked over Simone to compete on bars in the individual event finals. Aly Raisman, who was picked for the second spot in the all-around competition, only qualified for one individual event final. So, even the U.S.’s best all-around gymnasts are not necessarily the strongest gymnast from the team on every event.

Speaking of which, reducing the team size will hurt gymnasts who tend to specialize on only one or two events. If they pick only four team members, it will simply be too risky to pick people for the team who only specialize on one event, such as McKayla Maroney. This is unfair to those specialists, for they work just as hard as all-around gymnasts and if they are truly the best on an event, they should be picked! There could be many reasons why someone tends to be better on one event, such as injuries or illnesses that make it hard to compete on another events (for example, in 2008, Chellsie Memmel injured her ankle and could only compete on bars at the olympic games), or body type, or because a gymnast simply is better at a particular event! If a gymnast is amazing at one event, they should have a shot at the olympics—gymnastics is a very hard sport, each of the individual events could be considered to be their own sport. Many swimmers are picked for the olympic team based on a particular stroke they specialize in, why can’t it be the same for gymnastics? Individual event specialists have been some of the most memorable athletes in the sport. What would the 2012 olympics have been without this face?

Finally, I just do not agree with the reasoning. When FIG says they want to give less dominant countries a chance to medal, they obviously have the U.S. and their strong team in mind. However, the U.S. has only won the team gold three times—not nearly as many times as Russia or Romania. I do not even understand why they reduced the team to five in the first place, for the U.S. did not win the team gold any of the years in between 1996 (the last year with seven gymnasts on a team) and 2012 (the first year with five gymnasts on a team). Romania won in 2000 and 2004, and China won in 2008. It was not even the same team winning all of those years. Who even cares how dominant certain countries are? There are certain countries who are more dominant than others at the sport in the olympics. If a country was winning the olympics every single year by a huge margin, I could understand doing something to make the competition more fair. But that obviously has not been the case, the U.S. has only won three times and this is the first year they have won by a large margin. I simply do not think that reducing one gymnast from the team size will make a difference in how fair the competition is.

It looks like this decision is set in stone, but I truly hope that FIG will reevaluate their decision after the 2020 olympics. Gymnastics already does not get nearly enough publicity and praise, considering how hard and beautiful a sport it is, except during the olympics. Every time they reduce the team size, they are reducing the chance of a gymnast to be able to compete, and reducing the number of athletes who will influence this amazing sport. As Aly Raisman says:

So true, though. Oh well, it looks like all we can do is hope for change. In the meantime, let’s enjoy the olympics as they are, and pray that this will not be a long-term decision.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.

Panic! At The Disco Announces Breakup After 19 Years

Band Makes Breakup Announcement Official: 'Will Be No More'

panic at the disco

It's the end of an era. Originally formed in 2004 by friends in Las Vegas, Panic! At The Disco is no more.

Brendon Urie announced on Instagram that the band will be coming to an end after the upcoming Europe tour. He said that he and his wife are expecting a baby, and the life change weighed heavily in his mind to come to this decision. "Sometimes a journey must end for a new one to begin," he said.

Keep Reading... Show less
Content Inspiration

Top 3 Response Articles of This Week

Odyssey's response writer community is growing- read what our new writers have to say!


Each week, more response writers are joining the Odyssey community. We're excited to spotlight their voices on as they engage in constructive dialogue with our community. Here are the top three response articles of last week:

Keep Reading... Show less

To Mom

There are days when you just need your mom

To Mom

There really is no way to prepare yourself for the loss of someone. Imagine that someone being the one who carried you for 9th months in their belly, taught you how to walk, fought with you about little things that only a mother and daughter relationship could understand. You can have a countless number of father figures in your life, but really as my mom always said, " you only get one mom."

Keep Reading... Show less

The Way People In Society are Dating is Why I Don't Date

I need someone to show that they want me for me, not that they're using me to chase the idea of being in a relationship.

The Way People In Society are Dating is Why I Don't Date

You hear your phone go off. He's asking you to hang out. Then, of course, you get the advice of your friends to decipher this text. Is it just hanging out or is it more than hanging out? You've probably done this at least once in your life or at least seen a tweet where someone posted their screenshots with a potential love interest.

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

Winter Break As Told By 'Friends'

Is a month at home too much to handle?


If you're anything like me, winter break is a much-needed light at the end of the tunnel after a long, stressful semester. Working hard for 15 weeks can really take a toll on a person mentally, physically AND emotionally. It's a nice change of pace to be back at home with your family and friends, but after a couple weeks, it can get, well... boring.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments