Amazing Sport the Olympics Won’t Accept
Whether you happen to flip through it on your way to Big Bang Theory, religiously schedule your life around it, or take to wearing earplugs as the only remaining method to avoid hearing another word about Michael Phelps, it’s near impossible not to be aware of the Olympics in today’s media frenzy. However, there’s one sport you won’t see or hear anything about. A sport so old its roots can be traced back to ancient Greece. A sport that requires the balance of gymnastics, the teamwork of synchronized swimming, the strength of weightlifting, the artistry of ballet, and the flexibility of a contortionist. A sport that millions of people pay to see in cities around the world. It’s acrobatic gymnastics, a sector of national gymnastics programs around the world, including USA Gymnastics. It has a national team, just like artistic gymnastics, that trains at Bela Karolyi’s National Team Training Camp – the same grounds that Team USA trains in the weeks preceding the Olympics.
The Nature of the Sport
So what’s the deal? Why can’t acrobatics be in the Olympics? If speedwalking is considered an Olympic sport, surely acrobatics could be. Well, the nature of the sport may be working against it. A great deal of the sport’s appeal is its dynamic elements, which are skills in which the larger team members throw a smaller team member into the air where he/she will flip until returning back to Earth. In order for that to happen, the smaller team member has to be, well, small. Small people tend to be younger, usually pre-pubescent. You might be able to see a problem – how many 16 year olds do you know who haven’t yet gone through puberty? That are still under 90 pounds? Probably not many.
Cirque du Soleil
Then again, let’s look at Cirque du Soleil, the most popular demonstration of acrobatic gymnastics worldwide. The people performing the daring acts in Cirque are, for the most part, older than 16 years old, yet they perform some of the most advanced acrobatic skills that exist. Perhaps the 16 year old age restriction really isn’t that limiting after all.
Throughout the acro world, there have, of course, been rumors of Olympic games: ‘acrobatic gymnastics would steal attention away from artistic, which is unfavorable to the Olympic committee because artistic gymnastics is one of the most heavily watched sports. ‘Acrobatics hasn’t been around long enough’. ‘It isn’t in enough countries yet’. ‘It doesn’t have the proper rules and regulations’. While these are all possible, they’re simply rumors, and there’s no way to know how much credibility each claim actually has.
What I can tell you with confidence is that acrobatic gymnastics is awesome. It’s exciting, unique, and outright impressive. If you haven’t seen Crique du Soleil, get tickets immediately. But, more than that, look into acro gyms that are in your area. Try attending a competition – they’re usually less than $10 for admissions. Support the teams, hell, maybe join them! They may not be Olympians, but acrobatic gymnasts are still Team USA.