I’ve absolutely had enough, and I’m on a mission to change things!
In case y’all haven’t seen, U.S. Olympic Gymnast Gabby Douglas — a talented and highly decorated gymnast and member of Marta Karolyi’s Final Five Team — has been under attack by haters. It seems this girl can do no right in the eyes of the world.
The Olympic Games should be the highlight of any athlete’s life, but these games have given Douglas very little more than heartache and a blow to her self-esteem as “fans” have criticized everything from the way she styles her hair to whether she showed the appropriate level of respect when she stood politely at attention but failed to place hand over heart for The Star Spangled Banner. I don’t mean to point fingers at other athletes because I’m a HUGE Michael Phelps fan, but where was the outcry when he laughed during The Star Spangled Banner on the night he won Gold?
According to Johnette Howard, ESPN Staff Writer, “After Douglas thanked everyone in the press area and gave way to Madison Kocian, who won the silver medal in the uneven bars competition, she walked down the hallway at Olympic Arena. Then Douglas stood in a corner, facing a wall, and had a good, long cry.”
Really people? Do you have any idea how hard this young lady has worked to get where she is today? She is in the top one percent of all gymnasts in the United States. Let me tell you what the “middle 50 percent” do and never even hope to see those Olympic rings:
(1) They practice anywhere from 16-24 hours per week, depending upon their age and level, and sometimes even more. Most certainly more if you’re at Gabby Douglas’ level.
(2) Practices are generally 4 hours or longer each day, and are often made up of two straight hours of “conditioning.” What is that, you ask? Running, pushups, sit-ups, v-ups, mat pushes, rope climbs, chin-ups…basically training that would make the toughest football players cry! And they do this every single practice.
(3) They get hard callouses on their hands that quite literally rip open from overuse on bars, and yet they don’t stop because they refuse to let their team and coaches down.
(4) They compete with torn hip flexers, broken or badly sprained ankles, and sometimes even fractured spines.
(5) They have almost zero social life out side of the gym.
(6) Boyfriends? Not bloody likely, unless he’s a gymnast, too.
(7) Abuse. Abuse to their bodies from overuse, and sometimes even verbal abuse from bad coaches or parents who push too hard.
(8) And sometimes…these young ladies are actually injured so severely that the sport that has defined who they are is lost to them forever.
For all of these things I’ve listed, Gabby Douglas and her Final Five teammates have done double or triple.
So please excuse me if I’m deeply offended that anyone would dare to hate on Gabby Douglas because of her hairstyle or the fact that she was so elated in the moment that she failed to cover her heart, yet managed to stand respectfully at attention. The hate for this young woman on social media is completely inexcusable!
At 20 years old, Gabby is only three months older than my own daughter, also a gymnast of fifteen years (though never of that caliber). The idea of anyone hating on my own daughter in that way sends hot rage through me; so, by default of being the same age as my own daughter and knowing exactly how hard Gabby has worked to reach this prestigious milestone, I give her my Mama Bear Rage by Proxy.
What does the mean, exactly? Let me explain: I can’t fix what’s happened to date. I can’t take away the unkind comments of the ignorant. But what I can do is what I’d do for my own daughter, and that is to combat the negative with as much positive as possible…and I invite you to join me.
Here’s the plan:
We can’t change the hate and ignorance in the world, but maybe together we can make a small difference in the life of one incredible young woman whose experience these last several days has been tainted by hate. Join me!
For more information on this story, here’s a link to the article that inspired my ire by ESPN Staff Writer, Johnette Howard.