this article is brutal!!! but it poses the question for this week’s show…what should we and our kids really expect to get out of sports?

4 Responses to “this article is brutal!!! but it poses the question for this week’s show…what should we and our kids really expect to get out of sports?”

  1. January 31, 2011 at 11:34 AM

    Please read the following article. It clearly outlines a major underlying problem in kids sports and that is EXPECTATIONS.

    In this case, a group of cackling mommies got pissed because of the “recognition” their little girls were robbed of. This happens in all sports and it really stems from expectations. Read it and ask yourself this. Exactly what did the girls in this article “deserve”? What should be expected by these idiot parents and how out of line were they for lashing out the way they did?

    SECTION: LOCAL SPORTS; Main Sports; Pg. B1

    HEADLINE: Be mad at me, not a little girl

    BYLINE: Ian St. Clair

    “WOW!! All I can say is how in the world did this become all about 1 kid?? Not one time did you talk about the Level 6 TEAM taking 1st place at STATE in Evanston! Well, just like everything else that goes on at that gym, it all comes down to one person again.” – Anonymous web comment

    The world, it is a changin’.

    And not for the better.

    We live in a country that now deems it acceptable for adults to trash a 9-year-old girl.

    You read that right.

    A 9-year-old girl.

    That is the age of the young victim of the massacre earlier this month in Tucson, Ariz. Now it’s fair game for jealous gymnastics parents in Cheyenne to rip apart a kid who is the same age.

    There is nothing like a parent scorned.

    And why?

    This little girl, who will remain nameless here since she and her family have endured enough grief, got the credit those parents felt should have gone to their daughters.

    Instead of being proud of this girl and her accomplishments, they attacked her and her mother.

    Just when you think youth sports couldn’t fall any further, you get another slap to the face.

    The comment you read to start this column is just a hint of how brutal these “adults” were.

    Instead of seeing a story that gave readers an indication of what life is like as a young gymnast, what they go through day to day, these adults used it as a tool for spite.

    They completely missed the point of the story: It examines the enigma that is gymnastics. That enigma comes from a sport that demands perfection. But until athletes realize they will never be perfect, they will never have success.

    The first part of the story detailed how one girl had to brush off her mistakes and move on. It showed how she has come to this realization and used it to become a state champion. And how she is one of the rare athletes to do that and do so at the age of 9.

    This feature was designed to give readers an appreciation for a sport that gets little to no attention, one that challenges an athlete equally in the body and the mind.

    Or so I thought – until it spurred an outcry I haven’t seen before.

    Here’s the problem, though it’s hard to pick just one out from this sad set of events. The parents’ storm of hatred hit everyone but the person it should have hit.


    This girl had nothing to do with how this story was written.

    The mother, who also is her coach, had nothing to do with who was chosen for the piece or how it was written. Nor did anyone at the gym where she trains.

    I came to this angle all on my own after two hours at the gym. If you want to tear someone to pieces, do it to me.

    By ripping into an innocent girl, whose only crime was being the gymnast who happened to be performing when I decided to write the story the way I did, you lose all respect. The same goes for the treatment of her mother.

    What has me dumbfounded is that these people think this is OK.

    She’s a 9-year-old girl.

    Youth sports always have been a way for parents to live vicariously through their kids. That was true when I was a kid. That was true well before then.

    But the state we’re in today is beyond the pale.

    Whatever sport a parent’s kid partakes in, they’re the best. If that’s basketball, their kid is the next LeBron James. If that’s gymnastics, their kid is the next Mary Lou Retton.

    And so on.

    So if their kid doesn’t get the playing time, the shots, the perfect routines, the hoopla and the credit, the parent throws a fit.

    Yet if you asked the kids, they couldn’t care less.

    “I won the floor routine and the bars. Can we go to Pizza Hut now?”

    Ah yes, the credit.

    These parents kept harking back to that one word when ripping on this story.

    “You didn’t give them the credit they deserve.”

    The adults also mentioned that numerous girls had quit, apparently because their coaches didn’t feed them the credit the gymnasts “deserved.”

    This brings to light another problem. The parents put so much pressure on their daughters to become Olympic gymnasts that it wasn’t fun anymore.

    They had enough trouble learning the sport. They didn’t need parents in their ears, whispering, “We will never reach our goals if you don’t win more and you continue to embarrass us like this.”

    I’m not a bandwagon jumper.

    I’m not a cheerleader for your daughter.

    The credit your child gets should come from within when she accomplishes a feat she didn’t think she could. She should get the credit from you, the parent, not a newspaper.

    The point of sports at this level is not about the credit from others. Nor is it about success.

    Youth sports are about the education and the development of young minds and bodies.

    At least that’s what they should be about.

    Today, youth sports are all about the parents.

    And if the parents aren’t successful, watch out.

    They just might trash a 9-year-old girl.

    WyoSports staff writer Ian St. Clair can be reached at 633-3123 or istclair@wyosports.net

  2. February 1, 2011 at 4:08 PM

    If anyone is wondering what the first article was about, here it is:

    By Ian St. Clair


    CHEYENNE – Alyssa McKee exudes the confidence of a prizefighter.

    The 9-year-old gymnast who barely stands over 4 feet tall has no fear. She believes that if she thinks it, she will do it.

    She proved that late last month when she won a state title in her division.

    On this particular Wednesday evening at the Wyoming School of Gymnastics in north Cheyenne, Alyssa wants to nail her floor routine.

    She botched it once just a few minutes ago, and she wants no part of that again.

    She has a look in her eyes that would make Clint Eastwood flinch. Yet she is as relaxed as a cat napping in the sun.

    Just another enigma from a sport that is filled with them.

    Alyssa takes her spot on the padded blue floor that she has done handstands, handsprings and flips on for seven years. She makes sure her feet are in the perfect spot – right in the corner on the northwest side of the building.

    Once she’s satisfied with her position, she strikes a pose that shouts ballerina.

    Seconds before her music begins, Alyssa’s tiny toes push her toward the ceiling – at least as close as they can get her.

    When the music begins, that determined look on her face hasn’t changed. You can tell her heart has started to pound just a few beats per second faster. Her mind is telling her, “You got this. We’re going to nail this.”

    Alyssa then takes a huge leap as she starts her routine.

    She nails the first pass.

    If she could sigh, she would.

    She begins the first dance routine.

    She nails it.

    She takes her spot in the corner on the southwest part of the floor, takes a deep breath and leaps to begin the second pass.

    She is flawless through the first part of her run and thinks she has it … but, wait … she stumbles on her last move.

    The air rushes from her lungs like a popped balloon.

    Her mom and coach, Mary, quickly shouts out, “It’s OK, Alyssa. Keep with it.”

    Alyssa listens to her mom and performs the rest of her routine to a surgeon’s precision.


    Two or three years ago, Alyssa says, she wouldn’t have been able to finish her routine in the flawless fashion that she did.

    She’s come to realize that in a sport that demands perfection, the only way she can succeed is to remember she will never be perfect.

    Most who compete in this sport never come to that realization. The enigma that is gymnastics is just too much for them, and they never have success.

    Alyssa says since she figured that out, she has had more fun with the sport than she’s ever had.

    There are still times it’s tough for her, like on this night, when she failed to nail her floor routine twice.

    “It’s really hard,” Alyssa says. “But you just have to get over that fear. You just have to work really hard, and you can’t give up.

    “I think the most important thing to have success in this sport is you can’t do things you’re not ready for, and you have to be mentally strong.”

    Alyssa’s mental approach paid off at the end of December when she won the Level 6 7-11 age group state title in Evanston. She did so with the highest all-around score, regardless of age, 35.850.

    “I just try really hard with everything that I do,” she says. “I do that so I can get to higher levels.”

    Next up in terms of levels for Alyssa is Level 7. She says she hopes to attain that at some point this year.

    But that is just the start of what she hopes to accomplish in this sport.

    Now it’s clear why when Alyssa competes, or even thinks about gymnastics, she has that determined look on her face.

    “I’m going to try to get to Elite,” Alyssa says about the highest level of gymnastics an athlete can attain, short of becoming an Olympian. “But if not the Elite, then Level 10, because that would be the highest that we’ve had here in this gym. We’ve only gotten three girls to Level 9.”

    To become an Elite level gymnast, Alyssa says she has to become a Level 9 by the time she’s 11.

    “So I have two more years,” she says. “And there are usually people that come here and see if we’re ready to do this Elite Camp we go to. I hope when the time comes I’ll be ready.”

    Mary has known from the time her daughter was 2 that Alyssa would compete in gymnastics. What’s fitting is that she discovered the sport all on her own.

    “There’s a huge advantage to being around it your whole life,” Mary says. “And that’s Alyssa. From the time she was 2, we would look down the hallway and she’s doing handstands against the wall.

    “And she would do that every day until she could do a handstand without the wall.”

    Alyssa remembers that and she chuckles as she talks about it.

    “Now I’m the best in our class at handstands because I used to do that in the middle of the floor,” she says. “And I still practice my handstands all the time. I want to make sure that I can always do them better than everyone else.”


    Alyssa isn’t alone in the success she had in Evanston.

    Teammates Riley Forbes and Samara Lucero also won state titles. Forbes, 12, won hers in the Level 6 12-14 age group; Lucero, 13, won hers in the Level 5 12 and up age group.

    “I’ve tried to get used to the fact I have to be perfect but I will never be perfect,” Lucero says. “It’s kind of hard at times, though. You can’t get frustrated when you’re not perfect.

    “I think if you keep practicing, you will have the chance to be the best. And I practiced a lot, so I think that’s why I had success at the state meet. But you just can’t expect to do well.”

    Forbes says she battles the gymnastics enigma daily. It took her some time to get to the point that if she stumbles, she can brush it off.

    “Once you get into a routine, it’s pretty easy,” she says. “But it took me a long time to get there because I’m a perfectionist. When I got to that point, I realized that I could fail and just come back and do it again.

    “I have to work harder at it instead of trying to do it perfect the first time. I find it a lot more fun now.

    “I can adventure out more, and I know I don’t have to be perfect the first time I do it. And I think it’s gotten me further with my skills and my gymnastics all around.”


    Now, if there were a way to transfer how these three girls think about gymnastics to the parents, Mary’s life would become much easier and more enjoyable.

    “It’s nice to see the girls progress,” she says. “And when the parents see that and not the scores, that’s what matters. Most parents think their kids will be Olympic gymnasts, and that’s way too much pressure.

    “That’s why most of the kids quit, because there is too much pressure from their parents.”

    Mary hasn’t put that kind of pressure on Alyssa.

    If a time comes when Alyssa says she has had enough, Mary will support her. She wouldn’t pressure her daughter to do something she doesn’t want to do.

    But as long as Alyssa wants to do gymnastics, Mary will support her however she can. And she will help Alyssa become the best gymnast she can.

    One of the best ways for Mary to do that, she says, is to keep her daughter free from pressure. Alyssa faces enough of that on her own.

    “You don’t have to be perfect at everything, but you have to be really good at it,” Alyssa says. “During the summer, whenever I can, I tumble on our lawn. I just love gymnastics, and I want to be the best at it.”

    Two hours after she twice stumbled on her floor routine, that determined look is still on Alyssa’s face. Yet she is still as calm as that cat napping in the sun.

    With the confidence of a prizefighter in her pocket, Alyssa has figured out the enigma that is gymnastics.

  3. February 1, 2011 at 4:17 PM

    All right, let’s see how many parallels you can draw to other sports and other ages.

    Ready? GO!!!


    Coach Tony

  4. February 3, 2011 at 3:54 PM

    Where do I begin? There are sooooo many parallels to other sports you couldn’t possibly count them all.

    I will tell you this, you find an athlete who knows how to strive for perfection without actually expecting to ever reach absolute perfection, and I will show you a champion in the making. A very, very tough concept to get, and one that is relative to any and every sport that has a skill set to be mastered. This concept coupled with competing against yourself to try and become just a little bit better today than what you were yesterday, in lieu of trying to “win” any single game or competition, will set you light years ahead of most other athletes.

    Great piece!!! Parents really had something negative to say about this??? How do I get to the original to read the comments? Can’t seem to find it. Looks like it was removed from the Wyoming Tribune.

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