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Little Girls in Pretty Boxes: The Making and Breaking of Elite Gymnasts and Figure Skaters Paperback – May 1, 1996
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From Publishers Weekly
Sports columnist Ryan presents an expose of the physical and psychological suffering endured by young Olympic hopefuls.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.
From School Library Journal
YA?In an attempt to focus attention on the high price paid through pain, pressure, and humiliation to become an Olympic champion, Ryan has researched the stories behind some of the young female superstar gymnasts and figure skaters. The extraordinary cost to these young women in body, mind, and spirit is dramatized through the intense subculture dominated by gyms, trainers, parents, and sports officials who press for excellence and success without regard to the health and well-being of those involved. This anecdotal account serves as a warning to all those engaged in competitive sports that children should not be sacrificed to adult egos and the thrills of victory. A book to be pondered by coaches, parents, and young people.?Mary T. Gerrity, Queen Anne School Library, Upper Marlboro, MD
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top customer reviews
There is a lot of backstage dish in the book that is interesting. True life stories, some of which are heartbreaking, flesh out the allegations asserted by the author. The emphasis on being tiny and elfin has had enormous impact on elite female gymnasts. One sees the difference in just by looking comparatively at the women's U.S. Olympic gymnastic teams from 1976 and 1992. The photographs in the book best illustrate this and the comparison bespeaks volumes. Elite gymnastics went from being a woman's sport to a girl's sport, as the author has sagely noted, and the photographs corroborate that assertion.
Moreover, while some measures have been taken, such as raising the age for Olympic competition in 2000 from fifteen to sixteen, at the same time the minimum level of difficulty has increased, making an already dangerous sport more dangerous. Remember, elite gymnastics is a sport fraught with the potential for devastating spinal cord injuries. The author recounts a number of these heartbreaking injuries and the circumstances under which they occurred, leaving the reader to ask oneself, "Just what were these coaches thinking?
The pressure that some of these girls and young women endure is truly unbelievable. The demands upon them are often unrealistic, stunting not only their physical development, but their social and emotional development, as well. Competing with serious injuries, while taking potent drugs for the excruciating pain, is simply not commensurate with a sensible athletic regimen.
Parents who are living their dreams through their children are often as dangerous as unscrupulous and unqualified coaches. Many force their children to compete merely to satisfy their own desires for personal glory, badgering and berating their offspring every step of the way. Coaches, likewise, have their own dreams. Everyone wants to produce Olympians, but at what cost?
This is a an excellent book with a lot of information, both anecdotal and empirical. When purchasing the book, however, be sure to get the latest edition, as it has been updated with information on the state of gymnastics as of the year 2000. It also contains 24 pages of photographs, including 8 new pages for the updated edition.
One thing that needs to be made VERY clear: Ryan was NOT dealing with what is called recrational gymnastics, Doing gymnastics for fun and fitness. It can be a rewarding sport for chidren. What Ryan DOES deal with is the elite or olylimpic levels of the sport.
It documents the disturbing training methods of Bela Karloli. I've been concerned about this for a long time-but now the truth is told-and the truth hurts. It also documents the belittling coments that coaches often say to the gymnasts about weight. This often triggers an eating disorder. This is sickening. Coaches like Karloi would just like to blame parents for these problems. While parents do play a role, it's the coaches coments made to gymnasts that triggers it. So coaches needs to held reponsible for it.
Ryan tells it like it is-she pulls no punches. This is not an anti-gymnastics book. It's instead a disturbing document of the training methods of coaches and forcing them to compete with injuries.
Then there's the disgusting story of the second Trial that was held to determine the 1992 olympic team that resulted in Kim kelly being voted off the team. Kim Kelly did not have the Ideal body type of a gymnast-and USA Gymnastics(Then called United states gymnastics federation)were concerned that she would not get high enough scores because she was not the little girl like the others were. This is WRONG and lets hope that it doe not happen again.
This edition includes an update on the state of gymnastics up to 2000. While progress has been made in making the sport safer, Ryan notes that there's a long way to go.
Most recent customer reviews
It was somewhat interesting, but not particularly surprising.Read more