Tuesday Teabag, July 31

Olympic Gymnastic Parents

The Machine can’t help but be in awe when watching gymnastics (yes, the Machine has Olympic fever).  Whether it’s the men or women, what they do is simply unreal.  However, as impressive as these athletes are, there’s a little secret that’s bubbling to the surface during the Olympics:  their parents are crazy.  I mean bat shit crazy.  Take every article you’ve read about soccer moms fighting in the stands, dads getting thrown out of little league games (the Machine can’t wait to get tossed from his sons’ baseball games when they get older, btw), and throw it away.  Move aside, overbearing suburban parents, there’s a new crazy in town, and they’re on full display in London.  Anyone see the dad trying to get the crowd to join in his rhythmic clapping?  How about the parents having seizure-like convulsions in the stands during their kid’s routine?  We did.  After watching 2 days of gymnastics (our fever is starting to break) you have to ask yourself:  how many of these kids were pushed into gymnastics by domineering, highly critical, super intense parents?  Our answer:  100%.  Christ, John Orozco is from the Bronx.  How many kids in the Bronx—on their own—decide, “hmm, I think I’ll take up the pommel horse.”  Exactly.

Hey, we’re all about being proud of our kids.  Kevin Durant’s parents at Thunder games?  Heart-warming.  America’s newest sweetheart’s, Missy Franklin’s, parents at the swim meet?  Adorable.  But these parents drive straight past adorable to creepy.  Their screams pierce the arena, and their movements and actions scream “look at me” and “you’ve practiced this routine 8,000 times, I know because I uprooted our family and drove you to all your practices since you were 3 years old, so don’t mess it up for us, I mean me.”  These kids are treated like collectable dolls (well, they are doll-like in stature).  This isn’t Toddlers and Tiaras, although we get the vibe it’s a lot closer than it should be.

Listen up Olympic Gymnastic Parents, and listen good:  Your children, impressive athletes as they are, are relevant for about 15 minutes every four years (given the men’s epic collapse in the all-around, you can cut that down to about 5).  We get that you’re into it, that you’re excited to watch your kids compete at the Olympic level.  However, your excitement shows the worst in modern day parenting:  fanaticism.  You’ve sacrificed a normal childhood for a slavish devotion to gymnastics.  Fine, but tone down the antics.  The Olympics should be about the pure joy of sport, yet, when we see a gymnast nail the uneven bars, we don’t see joy.  We see relief.  Then, we see Ma and Pa Crazy Pants in the stands, and it all makes sense.

Congrats on the Tuesday Teabag award, Olympic Gymnastic Parents.  The way things are shaping up in London, it may be the only award you come home with.

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