Monday, September 17, 2012

Changing the Code: The Rights of a Gymnast

Who cares about the vault tables?

Gymnasts around the world, you should be upset! Mr. Stoica and his crew are taking away your rights! And we're not talking about trivial matters like the right to to be judged fairly. We're talking about serious issues like the right to wear hot pink bandages!

Adrian Stoica looks so much like my father, who looks a little like Ned Flanders and a little like David Selby when he plays Commissioner Gordon.

1. The right to wear hot pink bandages

The FIG has been taking tips from Joan Rivers's Fashion Police for some time. Male gymnasts, for instance, cannot wear long pants, socks, or slippers that are black or "the darker shades of blue, brown, or green." Who would wear brown anyway? The judges are automatically going to associate your routine with poo.

But that's neither here nor there. What I'm concerned about is this rule:

Handguards, body bandages, and wrist wraps are permitted; they must be securely fastened, in good repair and should not detract from the aesthetics of the performance. Bandages must be skin-coloured [so British] when available from the manufacturer.

In the 2013-16 Code of Points, the technical committee has added the line about the bandages. I presume that this is for aesthetic reasons–they don't want the judges to be distracted by tape jobs and bandages–but I'm confused about the amendment's implications. Does Sam Mikulak have to stop tanning so that his skin color matches the white tape on his ankles? Or are bandages and tape different?

Also, how are they going to check to see if the manufacturer produces skin-coloured bandages? Will someone peruse online inventory at every meet? If so, I want that job. I'm very good at online research, Mr. Stoica.

2. The duty to re-chalk

We've all seen gymnasts fall off a piece of apparatus, waltz over to the chalk tray, and mindlessly throw on some magnesium carbonate as they regroup. In the old Code of Points, this was listed under "rights and responsibilities:"

[The gymnast has the right] to use magnesium, to make adjustments to personal equipment, and to confer with his coach during the thirty seconds available to him following a fall from the apparatus and between his first and second vaults.
The new rule is split into separate sections:

The gymnast is guaranteed the right to:
  • Rest or recuperate for up to 30 seconds following a fall from the apparatus 
  • Confer with their coach during the 30 seconds available to him between a fall from the apparatus and between the first and second vaults.  
  • [Please note: No magnesium carbonate here!] 
Duties of the gymnast:
  • To remount within 30 seconds after a fall (the timing starts when the gymnast is on his feet after the fall) In this time the gymnast can recuperate, re-chalk, confer with his coach and remount
Maybe it's just me, but I feel like re-chalking is more of a right than a duty.

[Dear Anonymous #1: Thanks for pointing this out! xx, Uncle Tim.]

3. The right to hide springs from your competitors

The 2009-12 Code of Points discussed what constitutes abusive behavior on the part of a gymnast. In the latest version, they have added a very special line (in bold):

To refrain from any other undisciplined or abusive behavior or infringing on those of any other participant (i.e. marking the floor carpet with magnesium, damaging any apparatus surface or parts during preparation for his exercise or removing springs from the spring board. These violations will be treated as apparatus related violations, and will be deducted as large errors with 0.5 points).

Okay, I understand why unloading the springboard is potentially dangerous, but I'm curious as to why they are adding this to the Code. What happened during the last quad? Something must have happened. Why else would they add that rule to the Code? Does anyone have the scoop?

Without knowing the backstory, I imagine that some gymnast fell on his first event, and being the diva that he is, he decided that if he was not going to win, no one would. So, he went over to the vault, grabbed all the springs, and hid them in his gym bag.

Okay... maybe that is not the most plausible backstory. Like, how did he steal all the springs without the judges noticing? Did he hide the springs in his leo, wearing them like a Madonna cone-shaped bra? That'd be a sight to see.

Regardless of questions of plausibility, until I know the real story, that's my explanation, and I'm sticking to it.

Dear Members of the FIG,

You can't pull the wool over my eyes. Nothing gets past me–unless it has to do with pommel horse. In that case, pretty much everything gets past me.


Uncle Tim

Seriously, though, if anyone can shed light on these (seemingly minor) changes, I'd greatly appreciate it. In the meantime, I gotta get back to studying the Code of Points.


  1. Well, the part about the springs of the springboard and the bandage color was in the 09-12 WAG code (and in 13-16), so it may just be to make them consistent.
    About the chalking- it still is permitted (look further into the "responsibilities" portion

  2. FIG allows only specific spring boards at their competitions. Springs cannot be removed or added. They are very strict on that for some reason I can't fathom.

    Safety wise, it's better to allow removable springs be removed.

    Last season I had one girl who could not do her spring board mount. The only board allowed was NEW. Hard as a rock. She could not deflect it.

  3. The bit about the skin coloured bandages was in the code about 10 years ago, so it's not really new. Maybe it just disappeared from the last code. But it was never enforced anyway.

  4. AAAA finally Men's code, now I have something to read instead of typing my essay, HAH!

    Another hilarious post while still relaying the point, I love this blog!