mmmightymightypeople: The first thing elena mukhina said she thought after she crashed in training…


The first thing elena mukhina said she thought after she crashed in training and she’s lying on the floor unable to move was “Thank God, I won’t be going to the Olympics.”

this is the first thing a twenty year old is thinking to herself after a horrible crash that leaves her unable able to move. at that point she had no idea if she was paralyzed or not—but she had said repeatedly that the move she was working on was too dangerous and she didn’t want to do it—she had also talked about the possibility paralysis as well and was blown off by her coach.

to me, that is profoundly profoundly disturbing—that the only escape women feel they have from the culture/pressure/life of an athlete is injury. that they feel like they have to *escape* to begin with.

and i think it’s a fair question to ask—how many of the women/girls who are competing right now from across the world are trying to negotiate that reality? how many of them—even if they truly absolutely love what they’re doing—don’t know that they have choices because they never knew any other life than what they have?

i’m not trying to get all sad and “i know what’s best for you, and you need choices” sort of thing—i’m instead headed in the direction of—how can we encourage the building of spaces where competition is there for those who want it—but that competition is not about “the ultimate a “body” can possibly perform”—but about “how well your average teen who has a full life and maybe does some a couple of hours training after school” can do?—the culture of football in the US not much better than something like gymnastics—but at least they don’t hit the edorsements and all that until they’re full grown men.

i mean—the big thing i’m thinking is how few of these really young athletes at the olympics have ever come out. I think michale wiess sorta half ass coming out and rudy galindo all the way coming out are some of the *ONLY* people i’ve heard of—even tho in figure skating in particular there’s been men who have died of AIDS and came out post death—and rudy galindo has talked openly about edorsements and jobs he’s lost post coming out.

there HAS to be more than two gay/queer people in the entire history of sports.

and what does all these endorsement deals and abusive coaches and absolute control over 13-17 years old do to those young girls developing a decent sense of sexuality and gender? and in the case of women of color like julissa gomez—developing and understanding themselves as women of color?

how do you come out when you’re “america’s sweet heart”?

Yes. We just discussed this at article club, wrt women’s boxing. We read Ariel Levy’s piece on Claressa Shields, in which it is asserted that all boxers have abusive pasts, and several coaches note that the best boxers are “the ones who listen to their coaches.” Judy was like, “I have never heard of obedience as an athletic trait before.” I was just like, has there ever been a boxer who grew up rich? I am guessing no, although plenty of rich people go on to be Olympians in other sports. The narrative of young women who have been abused growing into their power and become physically and emotionally strong is a powerful one, and it is one that boxing hits hard, if you will allow that phrase. And the coaches clearly care about them—how many stories have you read where the athlete has literally moved into her coach’s home? But then, it is also like, Ann Romney owning horses or something. Also the boxing officials are all freaked out about the lesbians in the sport,* but there’s no oversight of the coach/athlete relationships.

*And you’re right, they don’t come out. In Levy’s article there is a mention of a boxer who came out and her husband tried to kill her. In the sport I’m most familiar with, surfing, a conventionally pretty woman who is ranked well below a dykey-looking-or-possibly-actually-a-dyke surfer will make tons more money than the dlopad woman, because of sponsorship, and I assume that’s across the board for most individual sports.

Leave a Reply