to Livestrong.com, there are nearly 5 million young people participating
in gymnastics in the United States, and although only a handful
ever make it to Olympic competition, their parents fork over enough
cash on lessons, leotards, custom-embroidered gym bags, hair bows,
grips and other equipment my wife didn't tell me about
to fund the entire Russian sports doping program.
Yes, all three of my daughters have participated in gymnastics at
one time or another, and we gladly spent what it took to give them
the opportunity to gain some balance, discipline, coordination and
physical fitness (and look really cute) while I numbed my
buns in the waiting area eating Cheez-Its and playing Angry Birds
on my cell phone.
I even tried my own Atari-joystick-calloused hand at gymnastics
for a brief time as a youngster, but I gave it up after being traumatized
by a disagreement I had with the pommel horse. I don't remember
exactly what happened, but I'm pretty sure it involved a combination
of my fear of heights and an unintentional performance of the splits.
Although I once thought my days as a reluctant gymnastics-watcher
were long since over, I recently found myself at the Texas Gymnastics
Conference Championships to watch my eldest and most expensive daughter
(now in college) compete with Texas A&M University Gymnastics. Yes,
this is the same daughter who, through the years, has also taken
us on exciting, wallet-wringing adventures with ballet, violin,
horseback riding (western and English), tumbling, and drill team
dance to name a few.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm extremely proud of her for her hard
work and for trying so many new things. I only wish I could cash-in
on my finely-honed skill of sitting for up to eight hours straight
while waiting to watch my child do something that lasts approximately
three minutes. The sport could be called "Competitive Inactivity,"
and prize money could be awarded according to the degree to which
your rear end takes on the consistency of melted Silly Putty.
My wife and I began the morning with a trip to Chick-fil-A for some
"Lord's carbs" to sustain us physically and spiritually throughout
a long day in a gymnasium that smelled exactly like you guessed
it a gymnasium. Once we were seated, I was amazed at the
level of activity taking place throughout the facility, but I immediately
identified the most important areas of the venue namely the
men's room and concession stand.
The first few hours of the competition involved the men's teams
and featured incredibly chiseled athletes with muscles bulging even
from their earlobes. Although I was impressed with their talent
and athleticism, watching the men mainly made me want to do some
sit-ups, so naturally I went to get a snack.
Amid the competitions taking place throughout the facility, I also
noticed several gymnasts receiving warm-up massages, and I briefly
considered swiping a "big and tall" leotard to see if I could get
someone to work on my lumbar region. Luckily for my wife (and everyone
else), my daughter's floor-routine competition was just getting
My daughter, who inherited my nervous stomach, looked almost as
nauseated as I was, but she did great and, as usual, made us proud.
I'm not sure how many flips she did in that routine, but it was
truly impressive especially to a guy who never turned a flip
that didn't end with a belly flop off the high dive.
Once the competition was over, we took our college girl out to catch
up over some Mexican food. The whole experience was a great reminder
to appreciate the precious time I still have to sit and watch my
kids do the things they love especially when the day begins
with Chick-fil-A and ends with tacos.