Thursday, December 17, 2009

THE TROUBLE WITH SHAWN....




So, someone (a couple of someones actually) commented in my last post about how Shawn Johnson hasn't used her post-Olympic fame to promote gymnastics in quite the philanthropical way that Nastia, or Nadia Comaneci have. Sure, she is out there (a lot) and she does paid appearances at gyms, and that is a promotion of the sport itself, but it is not quite the same as raising money for less fortunate people and programs to take part in the sport.  (Let me be clear, I am lauding Nastia for doing unpaid work such as the Cal state business and the toy drive.  I am not saying Shawn does nothing, she does appear at gyms, but as far as I know it is paid appearances, nor am I saying Nastia only ever does selfless, unpaid work, because that is patently untrue)

So, I have a theory why Shawn is not doing it. And first, let me preface this theory by saying that it's not that I think that she should do it (besides, she might later), but I am interested in why she doesn't.

I think one factor that affects the way Nastia and Shawn have treated their fame is (isn't it funny how we always seem to consider on in comparison to the other?) is the way they grew up. Nastia grew up in a world of gymnastics. 

Sure, Shawn grew up inside a gym, but it's a bit different. Nastia grew up with a family who were heavily, heavily involved in the sport. She would have known people like Nadia and the work she does most of her life.  She met all kinds of people in the gym world.  She sits and chats with Nelli Kim because she has probably known her since she was small. Nastia experienced gymnastics as a big picture, as well as a gym, which probably enables her to think about the future of the sport more readily. Perhaps that doesn't come naturally to Shawn, whose parents weren't in the sport and who probably devoted their time on gymnastics simply to watching her and raising money for her to train.





But the real thing that I think is preventing Shawn from throwing herself into such things, and this is purely my opinion, is that I think in some small, subconscious way, she has turned her back on gymnastics.

I think losing in Beijing rattled Shawn Johnson more than even she knows.

Think about it. Up until she came second in the AA final, she'd been pretty much four-foot-high and bullet-proof. She was World Champions, had won most of her meets (Scam Cup aside) in the last couple of years. She'd won Olympic trials. She'd won the Visas. She was World Champion. She was Marta's darling.

So many people around her were convinced she would win that the expectation to come home with gold must have edged its way into her brain somewhere and lodged. How could it not? Especially in someone so young, with so little experience in, to use Suzanne Yoculan's favorite piece of psychobabble, adversity in competition. I think she fully expected to win. And why not?  Experience hadn't shown her much else?

Nastia, on the other had, had had all kinds of crap to deal with. Losing marginally to Chellsie Memmel in 05, coming fifth in 2006, missing 2007 because of injury. She had to come back from a serious and long-term injury, only to find she was up against this new and brilliantly, naturally talented young wunderkind. Nastia knew she might not win. History had proved to her that no matter how hard you try things don't always work out.  You can never be sure.  Injuries happen. Falls happen. Bad nights happen. Someone simply pulling it off better on the night happens.




But I don't think Shawn really realised this.  So when she lost, it was an incredible blow. Of course, being the charming little girl she was, she was a good sport about the whole thing and smiled as hard as she could, but still, it must have shocked the hell out of her.  She went out there and competed, hitting four for four like she nearly always did.... and she didn't win.

So no wonder, when all these opportunities came dancing at her feet to have a great time, be celebrated, to be lauded and and to enjoy herself- things that had little to do with the sport that brought her to this point came her way, no wonder she jumped in and never looked back.




I will be truly surprised if she ever seriously trains again. But I am also not surprised she is not out there promoting the good of her sport. And that's okay. I think, deep in her heart at the moment, though she doesn't really know it, she doesn't really like gymnastics. And I don't blame her. She is very young. Maybe one day, when she has had a chance to reflect, and is old enough to realise that what she achieved was brilliance, even if it only came in silver, then she might start looking out for her sport again in an altruistic way.

*****

36 comments:

  1. Honestly though, why should Shawn just stay in gymnastics when there is a whole new world out there to explore? Because you know, gymnastics is a very cruel sport as well that's full of abuses just like any other.

    And while I appreciate what Nastia's doing, I wish she would speak out on some of the shittier things that are happening in the sport, like the age limit, that she was able to pull through the crap she did because her dad owns her gym and her dad was her coach. Promoting gymnastics as some happy, wonderful sport is just as disingenuous.

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  2. I never said Shawn should stay in gymnastics.
    What is so disingenuous about helping a financially failing gym program? By doing so she is pointing out the shitty fact that that gymnastics programs are getting wiped because they don't attract enough money or attention as their more glamorous (UCLA) sisters. What's so happy-clappy about that?
    I don't exactly get what you are saying about "pulling through the crap she did because her dad owns her gym and was her coach" Huh? Are you saying she is not acknowledging gratitude to her privelege? Or that it was shitty she had him as a coach? I don't follow.
    Just like I don't think Shawn has to do anything, I don't think Nastia has to either. Besides, maybe she doesn't have a fixed opinion on the age limit. I know I swing all over the place on that one.

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  3. I'm kinda glad that Shawn is getting out there and having a life. I love that Nast is so sincere about her love for the sport, but, at the same time, it's nice that Shawn is being a typical teen, applying to college, dating, etc... they never got to do any of that before. They both deserve to do what they want to now, and they are. But honestly, I think maybe something else that you didn't mention is that I think maybe Nastia doesn't quite know what to do with herself without the sport...i.e. when she was training for the 2009 season... it was kind of refreshing & made Shawn look a little more human b/c she has taken a break and is exploring other opportunities and having fun. That's more relateable I think. But I do love them both, they are just walking down different paths.

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  4. i agree. very insightful.

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  5. intresting post, it does make some sense as to why.

    side note: Nastia didn't do AA at worlds in 2006 due to injury, 2007 she was 5th.

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  6. I think another factor might be financial. Nastia's family is financially secure and has been able, throughout her life, to give back to the gymnastics community. Shawn's parents have a second and third mortgage on their house in order to pay for her travel - and to be able to attend themselves. I think Shawn might be taking the opportunities she has been given to help her parents out and set herself up financially - something Nastia hasn't had to worry much about. Joy (a gymnasts mom - who's experience is closer to that of the Johnsons :>)

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  7. Shawn will decided if she's continuing in gymnasticsbyt the end of this year, and considering the year end in two week... but if she said yes to gymnastics I would be very surprised

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  8. Nice entry! I agree with you that she should do whatever she wants, and I think this is an interesting theory! I know she tried super hard to be happy after the all-around, but right before the medal ceremony she looked like she was trying her best just to hold it together. :( That made me feel sad for her. I'd love to see her training again, but I hope she's happy doing whatever she does.

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  9. Great points. I think the dynamic within the USA team, because of Shawn's different upbringing, had an affect on her, too. It does seems she never really fit in with the rest of the girls, with her 20-hour training weeks, no serious injury or "adversity", and comparatively normal life. It's probably not all the tabloids made it out to be, but there has to have been at least a little jealousy around that (I'd sure be jealous). They're teenage girls, after all-- cliques are part of growing up. And Shawn's mature for her age, but it would surprise me if feeling like an outsider didn't color her attitude about the sport.

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  10. I would not be surprised to see Shawn do a Paul Hamm and come back at the last minute tomake a 2012 bid. However, whether she will be stronger than ever like Hamm or a shadow of her former self like Shannon Miller in 2000 is yet to be seen.
    And btw Nastia was out injured in 2006 and came 5th in 2007 after a fall on beam.

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  11. I think that maybe what Shawn is doing IS promoting gymnastics, just not in the way that Nastia is. Because let's face it, as sweet as it is that she is helping out a college team, who outside of the gymnastics community is even going to hear about that? But Shawn doing more mainstream stuff, Dancing With the Stars, All Star games, etc, I mean, if anything, she is keeping gymnastics in the public eye in between quads. I guarantee you that tons of people have seen her on TV or in person and said, "Oh, she's that gymnast". And ten years from now might actually remember her, even if she did lose the AA.
    You're right, Nastia doesn't have much outside the gym. Her closest friends are gymnasts, her parents, she never really attended regular school (I am from Dallas and I know the school she went to, it's for professional kids and is not at all like Shawn's public school) so she will remain well-known in gymnastics. But who knows? Maybe Shawn is going to outlast everyone as the quintessential American gymnast.

    And I totally agree. Losing the AA must have just blown her mind. Poor thing, I was happy for Nastia but Shawn was incredibly gracious about the whole thing. I would have been shooting daggers.

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  12. I think your article was right on the money. I was really impressed by Shawn's performances but quite surprised when she continually won every meet. Not that she didn't deserve it! But you have to come in second at least once. I absolutely loved watching the little dynamo perform and hope she finds her happiness.

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  13. I think what Nastia is doing is good for the sport. And hey, she might be doing it to get attention or because she sincerely wants to but either way it is actually helping someone so it doesn't matter so much.

    Like you I can't see Shawn ever returning to the gym again. How many times has she changed the time she'll decide? How many times has she said 'that door's wide open'? I'm wondering if another reason she's not helping gymnastics like this is because she's basically a teenager. I'm not doing the whole 'fifteen year olds don't understand nerves' thing that Daggett does, I'm just saying that as an adult Nastia might feel more drawn to this.

    One tiny correction, Nast came 5th in 2007 and sat 2006 out to injury, not the other way round.

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  14. BTW, Shawn has given interviews with DTWS where she said that she hadn't watched replays of that AA final. So that definitely adds to your theory that Shawn was more rattled than we thought by losing gold in the AA.

    Thanks for putting into words (and so eloquently and diplomatically, too) what I've been thinking for a looong time

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  15. Nastia is helping because she is friends with Val kondos. She is friends with Val Kondos because her father became friends with her when she came down to recruit WOGETTES for UCLA. Alas, Shawn wouldn't be able to be friends with all these people.

    Shawn was just a gymnast trying to win gold. Nastia was a gymnastics heiress in the center of the social scene. I don't think Shawn was so wounded losing to Nastia, but that she just isn't in the loop and nobody asks her to do it.

    Besides, I don't know why appearing at a college gym fundraising event is such a glorious thing. SJ did appearances in tons of charity events. CSUF's gymnastics program is short funding, but it's not like they are kids living in poverty or anything.

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  16. I think part of the reason Shawn isn't doing the altruistic gymnastic promotion is that Shawn knows how much it cost her family to support her gymnastics, triple mortgage on the family house. She is doing whatever she can to help dig her family out the hole they voluntarily put themselves into supporting her dream. I'm relatively certain by now she has done that but the knowledge of the financial impact of her dream had on her family is pushing her to take appearances where she can earn top dollar to repay her family and help her own future. I doubt Nastia had the club fees and other things to deal with as her family owned the gym and her father was her coach.

    Outside of the gymnastics world Shawn is better known, hell my wife who knows nothing about sports knows who Shawn is but has no idea who Nastia is. Shawn seems to be a smart young girl and is working her tail off to make what she can while she can and I for one do not blame her.

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  17. I never said you said that Shawn should stay in gymnastics. I just wanted to point out that Shawn doesn't owe anyone anything, and if she wants to do dog shows or Ms America pageants that's her call, though I'll be the first to say that is certainly not the classiest way to get out of gymnastics.

    While I think that Nastia is doing a great thing with Cal, I don't think she's a saint just because she's doing it. I just feel like there's a bit of parroting the party line in the way she's being an ambassador for gymnastics. It's not her fault, but it just means I'm not enthralled with her like the rest of the gymnastics world.

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  18. Thanks guys. Love the comments part! I think those who mentioned the financial part are right. Like I said in the entry, her parents experience of gymnastics were probably limited to watching SJ do gymnastics and raising money for her to do it! Now she can pay it back and more. When all is said and done, I am glad for any gymnast who gets rewarded with opportunity at the end of their career, whether it be via a college scholarship, celebrity opportunities or chances to promotes world of gymnastics. It's all good.

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  19. You don't know what you are talking about. Shawn is always at gymnastics camps. Just because she isn't whoring her fame by posting every update from her twitter account for attmetion does not mean she has not been promoting the sport. Perhaps you should get your facts straight before you write bull shit.

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  20. Shannon was injured in 00. She was kicking bu8tt at the camps before her injury .

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  21. someone is cross with me methinks!!

    Now, this is truly a question, and not just a response to Oh Angry One above. I had always assumed, but maybe I am wrong, that famous gymnasts were paid to attend gymnastics camps? Am I wrong? Do they do it for free?

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  22. Great article! Will shout this out on IG.

    But with Nast, you got 06 and 07 the wrong way round... [/pedantry]

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  23. Actually I am not mad. I love this blog and it is the only blog I check daily but getting yoiur facts straight is something that should be done if you are going to post blatant lies.

    Shawn has spent a lot of time at camps since she has stopped training so to blast her and make Nastia a saint is ridiculous.

    I am not a big fan of eitehr gymnast I am just sick of people bashing Shawn to make Nastia look better and that happens a lot with her fanatical fans. Once in a while a troll will do the opposite but it is usually teh same suspects bashing Shawn and Shannon Miller in the name of Nastia and it gets old.

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  24. Great article. As shocked as Shawn looked after the AA in Beijing, I had the feeling no one had prepared her for the possibility of coming in second.

    I know her parents sacrificed a lot, but I'm tired of the three mortgage conversation. It was reported that Shawn (as well as Nastia) had banked over a million dollars in endorsements before the Beijing Olympics even began. Hopefully, Shawn helped pay those down before Beijing.

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  25. Thank you for this post! I believe you are 100% right, the AA lost to Shawn was a shock. I truly think that if she had won things would be a slightly bit different in terms of her emphasize. BTW, for whatever its worth on the blog "Aunt Joyce's Ice Cream Stand" she mentions a gymnastic-skating agent that knows something about SJ, that being that she has no intention of ever returning to gymnastics but that's basically obligated to continue saying "that door is wide open" in order to keep her endorsers interested in her...Aunt Joyce is usually right on her money with inside stories before they break so I believe it....that being said, both Nastia & Shawn seem incredibly happy and to that angry poster above both girls are constantly updating there twitters, I'd even go as far as to say that SJ puts up more pictures of herself at places/events then Nastia (not that it matters)....

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  26. I agree with those who said the financial aspect is one to consider. Nastia does not have the financial issues that Shawn had in terms of gymnastics. Nastia's parents gave her a brand new BMW for her 18th birthday, they live in a huge house with very nice things, they own the gym...it's just a different world than Shawn had.

    As others have mentioned, Shawn has probably based some of her post-Olympic activities on recouping the massive financial outlay that her parents made for her gymnastics. Nothing wrong with that. Nastia has more of a choice in terms of things to sign on for because she doesn't need the money whereas Shawn does.

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  27. Once again I will say, I thought appearing at gym camps was paid work. I lauded Nastia for doing something on her own time and money. For heavens sakes, I am not a huge fan of either of them either, to be honest. And I am very aware Nastia does her own share of celeb stuff too. This is not merely a case of black and white. Nastia good, Shawn bad.

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  28. I think age is an important thing to look at as well, Shawn would be starting college if she was an average teenager, Nastia would probably be in her third year of college if she was an average person. Nastia would be starting her adult life and Shawn would still be figuring out what to do with her life. You can see this happening too. Shawn is testing the waters while Nastia had an idea of what she wants to do.

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  29. Couch gymnast, you are correct, the gymnasts going to gymnastics camps is most certainly PAID work... I used to work at a gymnastics camp, and YES, the celebrity gymnasts were paid quite a bit of money to appear at the camps for a few days or a week.

    So to the anonymous poster above, you are incorrect, and Shawn is most likely making quite a bit of money out of her appearances. That's all the couch gymnast is saying. Nastia is also making money out of her appearances, but from what we see is also doing some more philanthropic appearances, too.

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  30. Aunt Joyce does not know what she is talking about. She isn't as connected as you think. It is well known taht she reads a lot of message boards and comes to her conclusions there. Plenty of stuff she has said on that blog is speculation. Come on we all knew Sasha Cohen was never going to touch a skate at the ice in NY at Skate America.

    Nastia also gets paid to attend camps and her flight was paid for to attends that CSF thing in Cali so stop making her better then anyone else.

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  31. To the poster who was saying that Nastia is attention-whoring on twitter- Shawn posted like 5 photos of herself making celeb appearances at a dog show. I mean, c'mon. At least Nastias are gym-related.

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  32. Those insane rabid Nastia fans really made me sick already. Nasty gymnast attracts nasty fans. exgymgirl22, you said "Nastia is also making money out of her appearances, but from what we see is also doing some more philanthropic appearances, too". Stop saying sh*t like that. Do you really know how many philanthropic appearances Shawn has made? Of course you DON’T. Do some research before open your mouth. Shawn has been involved with numerous charitable causes even since she became a famous gymnast; most of them are about cancer-prevention and child-welfare, and lots of some others.

    For those who said Shawn posted more tweets than Nastia, go check their twitter accounts right now and tell us how many tweets each of them posted. I don't mind telling you here: Shawn 674 vs. Nastia 1552!!! To the poster right above me, Nastia posted gym-related tweets because she has no life outside of gymnastics, but Shawn has a more balanced life, gymnastics have always been just a part of it after all.

    For those Nastia fanatics who said Nastia is not attention whore, tell you what, Nastia is the ONLY Olympian who is still holding her gold medal on twitter all the time. None of the Olympians who have more gold medals is doing this (Natalie Coughlin, Dara Torres, Apolo Ohno, even Shannon miller, just name a few). And whenever she did a little bit of philanthropic thing, she posted on twitter. Yeah, she’s NOT an attention whore!

    Next time before opening your nasty mouth trying to bash Shawn again, take a long look at yourself in mirror first and get to know what you see: it’s just a sour loser who tries to get some self-esteem by bashing people who are more accomplished than you’ve ever dreamed of. How pathetic! Enough already.

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  33. To you, dear couch gymnast, please pay special attention to this part:

    Do you really know how many philanthropic appearances Shawn has made? Of course you DON’T. Do some research before open your mouth. Shawn has been involved with numerous charitable causes even since she became a famous gymnast; most of them are about cancer-prevention and child-welfare, and lots of some others as well. Even some events of the dog show she just attended were charity related. Google is your good friend if don't know how to find them. She didn't post everything she did on twitter like Nastia proved she's been doing these things for pure good intention, not for seeking attention in any possible way.

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  34. Honestly I don't agree with you. If your so-called theory was true, Shawn should've fallen into pieces after AA, then why she was able to win silver on floor, and GOLD on beam finally? It's not like she just left Beijing with only AA silver, she left with 3 silvers and 1 GOLD. Your mental attitude is definitely not the same as Shawn. If you were her, you could’ve won NOTHING after AA, because you're the kind of person glass-half-empty. But Shawn has always said she looks at things in a positive way like glass-half-full. Hope you get what I mean, and stop using your own negative thinking to judge Shawn.

    Also, Shawn has been involved with LOTS of charitable causes even since she became a famous gymnast. Just because they were not gymnastics-related, they were not good causes?!

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  35. I'm not sure how accurate your theory is but it's interesting. Anyway, I'm really posting to say that I think you should ignore the douchebag who's trolling this post. I've always enjoyed your posts, and even if you do post mistaken information once in awhile, you have a great quality blog here.

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  36. PolyisTCOandbannedMay 4, 2010 at 6:05 PM

    She's baa....ack!

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