Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman is criticizing plans by Massachusetts to drop boys gymnastics from sanctioned school competition.
"Extremely disappointing that boys gymnastics is being dropped by MIAA,'' Raisman tweeted Sunday night, referring to the decision earlier this month by the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association to drop boys gymnastics."This quote upsets me,'' she added, referring to a quote by MIAA spokesman Paul Wetzel, who told the Globe gymnastics was a "girls' sport'' that didn't attract enough male participants to justify its continuation.
“It’s a girls’ sport,” Wetzel told the Globe, referring to the lopsided participation rates. “When was the last time you watched boys’ gymnastics? They don’t get on the cover of the Wheaties box. They don’t get the endorsements.”
Raisman's tweeted response: "There is absolutely no such thing as a 'girl sport.' "
The Globe reported that the Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association decided earlier this month to end recognized competition among the handful of high schools that have boys’ gymnastics teams. The seven schools with all-boys’ gymnastics programs are Andover, Attleboro, Braintree, Burlington, Lowell, Newton North, and Newton South.
Girls gymnastics would continue.
Raisman is not the only local Olympic gymnast who is disappointed with the MIAA's plan to drop boys’ gymnastics.
Peter Kormann, a Braintree High school alum who won a bronze medal in the 1976 Olympics, said he hopes the MIAA board of directors will reverse their decision.
“I think it’s a shame,” said Kormann, in a recent telephone interview. “I thought it was a poor decision. There's nothing to be gained here.”
Just because boys’ gymnastics “doesn’t have numbers like football ... doesn't mean it’s not worth doing,” said Kormann. “It’s great for the kids who do it.”
Kormann also disagreed with Wetzel’s description of gymnastics as a “girls’ sport.”
If “more girls play soccer than boys, does that mean soccer is a girls’ sport?” said Kormann.
Another Olympic medalist from Massachusetts, Tim Daggett, who competed on West Springfield High School’s gymnastics team and won a gold medal at the 1984 Olympics, said he was “disgusted” with the MIAA’s decision.
“I think it’s a travesty,” said Daggett. “It’s an opportunity that isn’t going to be there for kids who really love the sport. To not be able to represent your high school in the sport you love, it’s very upsetting, without any question.”
Daggett launched his gymnastics career from high school, so he finds the MIAA’s move to drop the sport especially troubling.
“That’s where I came from – high school gymnastics. I didn’t have a private club,” said Daggett. “For me, this is like a shot in the heart.”