Fallen From Grace or Grace for the Fallen? The Alicia Sacramone Performance
A commentary on if Alicia Sacramone’s performance really made a difference on the U.S. team’s quest for gymnastic gold.
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The 19,000 strong watched with electrifying anticipation; the contender watches the judges to cue her to go with appeared poise. She is ready to perform. Her small yet thick muscular frame sways back and forth to calm her nervousness. She licks her lips. Her breathe starts from her chest. She struggles to breathe calmly. Her breathing is like sucking through a crazy straw the size of a needle. She finally calms herself down because she was next. No, wait…the judges told her to pause. One minute became two. Two minutes become four. After a stomach churning 45 minutes, the contender is released to the performing arena. Her nerves is liken to overcooked spaghetti; her strong heart is pounding like an overworked piston; her angelic face is flushed with fears, she does her best to stay calm, yet she is as tense as a rubber band placed in a freezer.
She proceeds to mount yet what happens on Tuesday, August 12th, 2008 at the Gymnastics for the Beijing Olympics would become this contender’s own personal Tropical Storm Fay. Alicia Sacramone will never live down the ripples from the tragic and heart-breaking event. To recap, Sacramone first lost her footing on the balance beam. In the floor exercise where she captured gold in the Olympic trials, she fell on her second tumbling pass.
As a gymnast, Alicia’s performance was the type of rotten meat that hyenas (called “disgruntled spectators”) feasted on with sheer delight. They were tearing her to shreds on message boards online.” She cost us the gold” “She is the reason why we lost to China.” Funny, how these same fans do not realize the incredible hardship Olympians must go through to achieve a gold medal. These complaining fans, ones who are some of the frustrated coaches or players of America, are those who rip into their players or even their kids at home over the tiniest mistake. These are the same spineless sponges that suck up all the life out of our athletes who have made a sacrifice and the sponges complain that they could have done better. Let’s not forget that these flabby armchair quarterback weasels do nothing to chase a dream yet they know they would have done better!
Certain “fans” are just as finicky as Morris the cat. First, they can love you one moment; dress up in priest’s robes and dedicate their lives to the athletes (their brand of cereal, cologne, their hair products, their fish sticks, toe nail clippers, etc). Suddenly, once you allow their object of adoration to fall from grace and the judgment bolts come down! The spectators can easily forget that the Olympics are an opportunity for those who have resolved to give their life and soul to gain a medal and can be trodden by defeat. Especially in gymnastics since the event is, as stated in the Time article, “…under a new scoring system and code of points that rewards gymnasts for packing their programs with difficult skills…The once perfect 10.0 no longer exists; instead, the scores are now a combination of two numbers-the first for how difficult a gymnast’s skills are, and a second for how well those skills are executed. The total can now range from 10.0 all the way to 17-something.” The standards are so high now that many will consider the gymnastics event to be likened to the grueling and punishing Iron Man Event. A variable crucible that burns away all hopes, dreams, and aspirations of the most polished gymnast.
Due to her mistakes, Alicia carries the world-crushing burden of her loss on her shoulders. She blamed herself incessantly and apologized profusely to her teammates. For her teammates, they realized that everyone has their off day but certain “fans” did not see it this way. They saw this as being an opportunity to feast on Alicia’s bones and spit her out. To them, the only thing that matters is gold.
There are some other factors to scrutinize. Let’s look at the chilling facts: 1) China gymnasts had amassed a mammoth lead over the U.S. (PalmBeachPost.com reported: “China won with 188.900 points, a comfortable 2.375 more than the United States.”) and no matter what the performance Alicia gave (she could have lassoed the moon and brought it to the arena), there was no denying that China would win without contest. 2) Samantha Peszek and Chellsie Memmel (The rest of Team USA) were missing from the games due to injuries and these could have been the golden keys needed make their victory possible.
The Team USA has no reason to hang their head down in shame. With the courage of King David, they valiantly fought overwhelming odds, and, in spite of some Americans’ gold envy; we will be indebted to their willingness to face their Goliath. They may have “lost” in their Olympics by American’s standards yet failure is not final. Alicia and the rest of the team will rise from the ashes of failure and become champions again. There is a subtle grace that they can carry like the wounded soldiers of a rigid war. So, as the smoke of the Olympics clear and the torch fades, they are indeed warriors who deserve the respect and grace due them. They fought for their Olympic glory and their dreams. Now that is truly living.
“Take chances, make mistakes. That’s how you grow. Pain nourishes your courage. You have to fail in order to practice being brave.” -Mary Tyler Moore