What will you find on this site?
You’ll find all sorts of things from the past: old meet scores with historical context about their importance, old competition footage with short commentary, factoids about past Codes of Points, gymnastics trivia, and miscellanea from the archives. Just some nerdy stuff.
Why create a gymnastics site dedicated to the past?
I know, I know. Roughly 5.5 people are going to read this site, but meh, so what? Here are my reasons for creating this specific site…
Preservation of History
I’m an archivist by training. I believe in preserving and curating history, so this is fun for me.
Plus, who doesn’t want to understand how their favorite sport has evolved with time?
A Guide for Gym Nerds
I’m guessing that a lot of gym nerds want to learn gymnastics history. They just don’t know where to begin, and there aren’t many resources out there.
Sure, YouTube is a treasure trove of old footage, but unless you lived and competed in a specific era, it’s hard to make sense of what you’re seeing. For example, you probably don’t know if gymnasts were supposed to be completely vertical in every cast handstand or if every leap was supposed to hit 180° since the beginning of time or if there was a deduction when gymnasts caught their hands on their pants while circling on pommel horse.
Plus, gym nerds will pick up random tidbits of trivia to impress/bore their friends. For example, did you know that Michigan State reportedly created the first scoreboard dedicated to gymnastics?
I hate to break it to you, but today’s debates about gymnastics have been with us for decades.
Complaining about the Code? Griping about judging and scoring systems? Dissatisfaction with the governing bodies? Anger about television broadcasts? Nostalgia for the past? Wondering what is artistry and if it exists anymore? Distaste for the lack of dance training? Concerns about the U.S. men struggling on pommel horse? (The best U.S. man on finished 40th on “side horse” at the 1962 World Championships.) Strong opinions about which men’s events are boring?
Yup, gymnastics fans were talking about those topics in the 1960s already. With the help of this site, you’ll see how your opinions fit into a long tradition of gym nerdery.
Expanding Our Understanding of the Sport
Most of my readers are from the U.S. and grew up with a U.S. version of gymnastics history. This site is not that. Instead, my goal is to look at what was being said and reported in other countries, and I do make it a point to discuss competitions that don’t have archival footage or whose videos have not found their way to YouTube.
I want to recognize the limitations of this site.
First, while I speak four languages, not one of those languages is Russian, Japanese, or Chinese, all of which are essential languages in the history of gymnastics. But I will do my best to include a cacophony of perspectives on this site because history is a matter of perspective.
Second, gymnastics history has largely been written by white men, and I am a white man. I’ll do my best to check my biases at the door.
Third, archival research takes time, so don’t expect daily posts. My posting schedule will be sporadic.
Finally, I repeat: archival research takes time. So, if you come across something on this site and use it in an article, a little credit goes a long way.
If you’d like to support the site and the preservation of the history of the sport…
You can make a donation using this link.