Episode 2 Transcript

JESSICA: Welcome to Gymcastic! This is Jessica O’Beirne, your host. And I’m joined by…

BLYTHE: Blythe Lawrence with the Gymnastics Examiner

SPANNY: Spanny Tampson from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile

UNCLE TIM: And Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talks Men’s Gym

JESSICA: Thanks so much everybody for listening to our first episode last week, the first part of our interview with Tim Daggett. We’re going to have the second part today. And I just want to remind you guys that you can find us every week on our website, which is gymcastic.com. We’re @gymcastic on Twitter. We also have a Facebook page. You can now listen to the podcast on iTunes – we’re so happy that we’re up on iTunes, so you can subscribe on iTunes and you’ll automatically have the podcast downloaded every week. This week we’re going to talk about the latest in the news. I went and saw the tour so I’ll tell you what I thought of it. We’re going to have the second half of our Tim Daggett interview. And then we’re going to give a preview of what’s coming up next week. Last week we were so excited to have Tim Daggett on the show. And I just want to have a chance for everybody to kind of… before we get into the second half of his interview… kind of talk about what that meant to us and what we thought of the interview. Blythe, do you want to start?

BLYTHE: Sure! Well, I think that he was great about highlighting one thing that gymnastics fans might not realize, and that is that NBC is a very mainstream news channel. As he said in one part of the interview, what his job is is not to reach out to the people who know gymnastics, which I think are the people who are reading our website and are listening to the podcast. He is supposed to appeal to the “Grandma in Wichita” who is flipping through her channels at 4pm on a Sunday afternoon and comes across Olympic Trials. And so I felt in some ways that he’d been waiting for a while, for years maybe, to give this interview and to really be able to get into nuances of the Code, and gymnasts that he likes, and rules that he likes, and rules that he doesn’t. And so, I really hope it was a positive experience for him. It was absolutely a positive experience for us. And, just wanted to say thank you again for coming.

SPANNY: It was a lot of fun. Just hearing his voice, I… regardless of what you think about him or the trio, we’ve all been listening to him I mean at least since… 1992? 94?… is iconic. And, I know for me just hearing him say “Gymcastic is faaantastic!” Like, I just died. And, like Blythe said, I think he enjoyed talking with us about gymnastics beyond NBC information. I think he enjoyed it as much as we did, and I’d be lying if I said it didn’t change my opinion of what he does at least a little bit. I have a little more respect now. And I look forward to seeing kind of where commentary goes, I guess.

UNCLE TIM: As someone who is very snarky, I’m going to kind of set that side of me aside, and I think that listening to him speak about gymnastics and his coaching and everything just gave me a lot of respect for him. And he… I mean honestly if I were a gymnast I would love to have him as my coach. He just seems like such a caring guy and someone who would just really be attentive not just to your gymnastics but to you as a person and your mental state and your emotional state and I kind of wish I had someone like that way back in the day when I was competing. So, yeah, everyone go to Tim Daggett’s gymnastics school.

JESSICA: Yeah, I totally agree that… I just, I really… You know for years I’ve been listening to him and for years I’ve been yelling at the TV. Like many of us. And after meeting him I really felt like he’s exactly like us. I was like, he’s a total gym nerd. He loves this. He’s just like us. He wakes up in the morning and reads gymnastics news. Like, that’s what I do in the morning! Right? And I was like, he’s just like us. But he’s in this job where he can’t talk to us. He has to talk to someone who knows nothing about gymnastics. And we’ve all been in that position too. You know when you’re sitting at the meet and you have to explain everything going on to the person next to you? That is… I just really felt a connection with him in that he’s kind of in the same… he has that same passion that we do. And I really appreciated some of the things that he said. It really echoed my own personal thoughts about gymnastics and how I feel about the way that things are going. I feel like I was surprised that my internal feelings about gymnastics and direction it’s going really lined up with his. I think that our listeners will be really interested to hear some of the things he said in this part of the interview, which I found… and you’ll know that because I, at one point, screamed in the interview and said “Amen!” I was really excited about that. And also, I just wanted to talk about something that Uncle Tim brought up while we were talking off the air, and he brought up how one thing we’re doing with this podcast is that we’re creating an archive of in-depth interviews of people who have really dedicated their lives to the sport. and that is something that i think will be so valuable and really be a resource for years to come. We hope we’re creating a space for people to talk about their passion and maybe help push things in a direction that will really help the sport, so that’s exciting for all of us. So it was really just great to have Tim Daggett on the show and I hope that we can have more people of his caliber and influence on the show in the future. And with that, let’s talk about what’s going on in the news. Blythe, you want to take it from here?

BLYTHE: Ok. Well this week, again, a fairly quiet week in gymnastics. Internationally…actually, before we talk about international news, did you guys know that today is national gymnastics day?

JESSICA: Yessss!

SPANNY: Yay! Happy gymnastics day everyone!

BLYTHE: Every day is gymnastics day, of course, in our world. No for the entire USA today is declared national gymnastics day. And the USA Gymnastics theme of this year, or their motto, is “turn the world upside down.” So basically, do a handstand somewhere. And my question to everybody is, where are you going to do your handstand today?

SPANNY: I did mine in the living room. I was, like, 7 minutes late. But when I saw USAG updating Facebook pictures, I went “oh quick!” I had dreams about it last night though. I had a dream I couldn’t do a handstand anymore. And that… that’s like my go-to like… even when I’m 80 and have one arm or something I should at least be able to do a handstand but in my dream I kept toppling over. So, yeah, I could do my handstand today still so, happy gymnastics day everyone.

UNCLE TIM: Well I was up really early this morning. I was up at like 5:30 so I was up for the sunrise and, living in San Francisco, I actually did my handstand with the Golden Gate in the background and the sun rising and it was… a very zen moment.

JESSICA: That’s beautiful. I haven’t done my handstand yet but I do plan on doing my handstand in my living room later today and having my husband take a picture so I can put it up on Facebook. So that’s my plan. I’m very excited. I love this idea.

BLYTHE: And I’m going to do my handstand probably in the newsroom at the Seattle Times where I work part time. And so hopefully that will be a source of amusement for everybody. Ok so moving on – internationally. The Chinese Individual Gymnastics Championships are going on this weekend and event finals have yet to take place but in the womens all around, Zeng Siqi who was considered a prospect for the 2012 Olympics has won the women’s title, whereas Deng Shudi who is a fairly unknown male gymnast – he won the men’s all around title. On the women’s side, none of the 2012 Olympic team competed. They are probably taking a very much deserved rest. We have the 2nd annual Mexican Open to look forward to. Confirmed to compete are Russia’s Anna Dementyeva, the 2011 European Champion, and David Belyavskiy, who is really an amazing young competitor. We should see great things from him this upcoming quad. Great Britain’s Daniel Purvis will be competing as well. And so will Americans Kennedy Baker and Brenna Dowell. We haven’t seen too much of either of them. They are National team members but as far as international competitions go, this will be a great opportunity for them to go experience. Per USA Gymnastics. 2008 Olympian Joey Hagerty has gotten married, and if you go to the USA Gymnastics website you can see wedding photos and they both look absolutely great. So I would definitely suggest going and doing that, especially if you’re a Joey Hagerty fan. Haggerty has terminated as gymnastics career, he did that a couple of years ago and competed in his last meet. And, you know, we really miss his toe point on the American team I think. Gabby Douglas has signed on to be the new face of Nintendo Advertising, and she’s also set to appear on True Blood. True Blood? I have that right, right? One of the vampire shows?

SPANNY, JESSICA, UNCLE TIM: Vampire Diaries

BLYTHE: Oh, Vampire Diaries!

JESSICA: Oh my God, True Blood would be epic. Please HBO, get some gymnasts on True Blood! That would be fantastic!

BLYTHE: Because I wrote down True Blood and then I was like wait, no, it’s one of the vampire shows. And I…

JESSICA: It’s easy to get them confused.

BLYTHE: I haven’t gotten into the whole vampire thing, honestly. But yes, ok so she is going to appear on Vampire Diaries and, you know, that’ll be cool, I think Gabby would make a pretty good vampire. So that’ll be interesting to see. And then Nintendo’s new campaign that she’ll be appearing in is called “play as you are.” And Gabby’s pretty cool so I think she’ll be really ok with that. Elsewhere down the road we have the meet Massilia, the competition in Massilia, France is coming up in November, and the Glasgow World Cup, which is coming up in December in Scotland, so that will be really nice. And that’s about what I’ve got for news for this week. What about you guys?

JESSICA: So I have a couple things. There is something really exciting coming out for… this already exists for men but it hasn’t existed for women yet. There’s going to be an iPad app called Gymnastics Routine Maker Women. It’s, like, $4 and it was submitted earlier this week so it should be up. There’s already…the men’s app is up so you can download that one. I think this is super exciting, especially for those of us who, I mean, who want to play around with routines we think our favorite gymnasts should do. Also, like, for those of us who have coached – I remember I used to have, like, a million worksheets that I had. Oh my God. Total nightmare. So I love this idea of just doing it all on an iPad! It’ll be so much easier. And it has pictures of the code so you can just put in the picture of the skill you want. I’m really excited to downoad this so look for that later this week, hopefully that’ll be up. And then, the FIG came out with their post Olympic report and it has a lot of interesting information. But I’m going to ignore their information because I put out my own report earlier this year on my site Masters-gymnastics.com becuase age is, of course, very interesting to me in gymnastics and I think there is a stereotype that all gymnasts are all 12 years olda nd have no lives. And really that’s not the truth anymore. And it’s… it might be that… I mean even when you looked at the podium this year there were 20 and 24 year olds and older on the podium. It wasn’t just the teenagers who were winning medals. And that is evident in the numbers that came out of this Olympics. So on my site you can see my beautiful charts that I have made that links to the gymnasts so I recommend going and checking that out. And what I found in my research before the Olympics and was confirmed by the FIG report is that the largest age group in women were 20-24 year olds. That’s 55% of the competitors. That is a total stereotype buster right there, people. 20-24 year olds were 55% of the competitors. The oldest female competitor was not in fact Chusovitina, but it was 39 year old Athens trampoline Olympic Champion Anna Dogonadze… I don’t know how to pronounce her last name, I am so sorry. She used to have a last name with an X in it. I don’t know how to pronounce that either. Then she got married. Anyway. You know, she’s 39 and she was the Olympic champion 3 Olympics ago. Like, that’s a freakin’ big deal right there. The oldest male competitor was also 39, of course we know who that is. Super Jordan the hottness Jovtchev. And I can’t tell you how many people have, you know… and they of course know I’m obsessed with gymnastics… but have come up and wanted to talk about him. And how many hits I get on my website based on him. You know he… talk about inspiring a generation, I mean he really did that with his performance. So, you know, we have two competitors who are 39, the biggest age group of competitors for women were 20-24, and it was actually rhythmic in the group category who have the youngest group of competitors. Which, I always thought rhythmic athletes were older. I don’t know why I had that stereotype in my mind. Maybe that’s changed, but in rhythmic group, 68% of their competitors are 20 years or younger. And maybe that’s because they all have to live together and get along and so that’s why that happens. But across all disciplines there were 19 athletes competing who were in their 30s. And men’s trampoline actually had zero teenagers competing. Not a single teenager. So I think those numbers are really revealing and, you know, it always kind of upsets me when I read news stories that report as fact that “so and so competes in a sport where you’re over the hill if you’re 16,” when in fact that has changed and is not true anymore. So I hope that this gets more press and I hope that this will be a fact that will come out more in the general media and will kind of change that stereotype because regardless of how it’s reported, I think that what happens is that when people are growing up and they don’t see people older than them competing, they think that when they’re in high school, or when they’re in college, that’s it. There’s no future for them. And I know that that was my experience until I moved to another country where that wasn’t true, and I went to meets where everyone was all different ages and I was like “what?! This happens?! This isn’t like this in my country!” So, you know, that’s kind of my motivation for being so interested in this. So, anyway, that’s all the news I have from that end. But I’m going to continue talking now because I want to talk about the tour that I saw. And, so, I went to see the tour this weekend. And, I have to agree pretty much wholeheartedly with Uncle Tim and his assessment of four shushunovas because I really liked it! I was really happy with the tour! I was pleasantly surprised. And, just so you know, what my expectation is is people will basically do, like, try to do gymnastics but do it really badly or fall over, and they didn’t do that. I would say that the thing I loved about the tour – the dancers, I thought were fantastic. I feel like the tour was kind of like So You Think You Can Dance meets gymnastics meets a Bruno Mars doing rings. In a spotlight. That’s how I’d kind of sum it up. I think the music was fantastic, I enjoyed it a lot. I loved… the thing I loved was Julie… is it Zetlin? Am I pronouncing that totally wrong? The rhythmic one that went to the Olympics this year. Her leaps are insane. Uncle Tim would you agree with me about her leaps? Did you notice them?

UNCLE TIM: Yeah. I mean. She’s a rhythmic gymnast so her legs are going to be just automatically up by her head. So [laughs] yeah.

JESSICA: Yeah she was just… I liked her a lot. Mary Sanders doing her aerial act – I thought that was pretty awesome. And then I really feel like the people who stole the show were the trampoline people, the acro World Champions were incredible, and the boys. The boys were amazing. There were a couple of things that were… I’m calling them “missed opportunities.” USAG, I hope you’re listening to this, and if you’d like to take notes, feel free. So, there were no location-specific introductions. This was a missed opportunity. You can interview someone and say, “Oh this is Kyla, she is from Orange County.” That would be great to say when you’re in Orange County. You could use the video boards, also, so that people know who someone is like they did at Trials. Missed opportunity: there was a little bit of sexism, I felt like, in the introductions of the kids. One kid was introduced and… the boy was introduced to show his muscles, the girl was introduced to do a pretty leap. What, girls don’t have muscles? Like, I didn’t like that. Missed opportunity: branding the tickets. If you had branded the tickets like you did for Trials – I kept those Trials tickets because they were gorgeous. If you had branded the tickets like you did for Trials, say with… make them look like the little Kellogg’s boxes with the team on them, I would have kept that ticket and tried to get it signed. Like, I would keep that ticket forever. As it is, I have a really ugly brown ticket. Missed opportunity: let people sign autographs longer. This is a special place, and I know you guys make extra money off selling tickets to the Chalk Talk and to the signing and to the morning breakfast and all that stuff, but a little longer would have been great. We only have two people come by to sign autographs in our area. Missed opportunity: a soundtrack to the tour sponsored by USAG and Kelloggs. If I could buy the soundtrack on iTunes, I would totally buy that. Let me support gymnastics in this way, and make this available on iTunes. Missed opportunity: marketing Gabby. Gabby is the Olympic champion. She did not have a full page spread in the program. She did not have a central performance. I saw one time when she did a floor routine but it wasn’t… I mean, she wasn’t, like, the star of the show. And she wasn’t introduced as “your Olympic champion.” She was introduced in the group. I was standing right next to the place where they were selling the programs, and so many people came up and looked through the program and they were like, “there isn’t a page just on Gabby?” And they were like, “uhh..” Well they didn’t know anything. And I was like, “no, there isn’t.” And nobody bought the program just because of that. That is a missed opportunity, USAG. In the show that I saw, missed opportunity: the lighting. There was, like, a bunch of times when the lighting was totally wrong, so people were doing their routine, and did the “ta-da” moment standing on top of the p-bars and they were completely in the dark. Like, it’s scary for one thing [laughs] and number two, like, fire whoever is in charge of the lights, ok? Let me see. Missed opportunity: Ruggeri doing women’s bars. Come on people. This has to be in the show.

UNCLE TIM: [laughs]

JESSICA: Right? Why isn’t he in every single tour stop? And why isn’t he doing a women’s bar routine? Because his routine would get like a 9.8 in level 10 in a women’s gymnastics meet, so put that man on the bars. And I think the other missed opportunity was NCAA athletes. Put some great NCAA… you know, most of the Olympians are injured. So use NCAA athletes who have just graduated, or new elites that people love, or adults who can commit to doing something like this and don’t have to be in school and put them on the tour. Put Casey Jo Magee… have her do her whole beam routine. She can do that beam routine three days in a row, four days in a row, that’s not a problem for her. Her full twisting mount, her back spin, people would go crazy for it. Put Jenny Hansen… she can do a bar routine and a beam routine and people go nuts. All you have to do is introduce her with her age and she’ll be a star of the show. Plus she could do some crazy, you know, Paul Hunt-esque stunt things with the parkour guy. So, those are things I loved, and the missed opportunities. So USAG, if you need someone to help out with marketing, just call me up, I’m available, I can help you out [laughs] we have lots of ideas on this show.

[[Tim Daggett interview segment]]

JESSICA: Ok, so now we’re going to bring you the second half of our interview with Tim Daggett, and we’ll start that right now.

BLYTHE: How do you feel about the perfect 10 and the way the scoring system has changed?

TIM DAGGETT: Well, I hate it. I… I mean, I just hate it because, it’s just so confusing. And, you know, some of it could go away, if they got, you know… but it’s always going to be confusing in my opinion because, it’s like the tax system. There’s always going to be a loophole. Somebody’s going to find an easy combination, or, you know, they’re just going to find a way that’s really not as hard but it brings in all these points. And it’s going to happen on certain events. And, so, the biggest problem with what we have right now is a 15.7 is either a really great score, or… let’s just say a 15.2 is from off-the-charts good to not good at all across the different events. And, so, for the casual viewer at home, they just don’t understand that. They can’t understand how men’s vault can score so much higher than every other event. Or why women’s floor exercise scores so much lower. Frankly, I don’t get why women’s floor exercise scores so much lower either [laughs]. I mean I just… sometimes I see the deductions, and it’s very very frustrating. On the men’s side, you can have a stellar executed routine, a Kohei Uchimura-like routine, or Hambuchen-like routine, and, you know, you can lose .9 in deduction. And you can have a really mediocre routine. Really mediocre. And it can be 1.3 off in execution. And, it just… they’re not doing it right that way. So, I liked the 10.0. The thing that really doomed the 10.0 in my opinion wasn’t that there wasn’t a way to differentiate, it’s just the judges wouldn’t go to it. That was the problem. Like, I remember Dragulescu on vault, you know, I can’t remember exactly what he got, but I think he got a 9.875, and, you know, the guy who was right below him, you know, got a 9.8666 or whatever. And, you know, I mean, they both did a handspring double front half and the comparison wasn’t even… I mean it just… Marian was so much better. Why wouldn’t they score the state-of-the-art at a 10.0? Like McKayla’s vault in the women’s team finals. In a 10.0 system, that should have been a 10.0. And then, you know, I mean, Gabby Douglas did a fantastic vault that day, and that should have been a 9.95. And, you know, people would get that. And it differentiates plenty at that level. But I don’t think it’ll ever happen again.

BLYTHE: The level of difficulty has gone up on certain events just, even during the past decade, an extraordinary amount. And as a former gymnast, as a coach, are there any skills that it sort of freaks you out to look at people do?

TIM DAGGETT: Umm, yeah. I mean, there’s… it is amazing what people are capable of doing, you know. I’m probably pretty biased, but some of the vaults just really scare me. Because I’ve seen these gymnasts that are the best in the world and they can pull these vaults off, and, you know, they look magical. But I’ve also see them crash really bad. [laughs] So that scares me a little bit. You know, high bar is hard, incredibly hard. But, you know, it’s like, coaching it, I coach those skills – I coach kovacs and kolmans and all that kind of stuff, and it’s really in a lot of ways not all that different than, you know, a hecht gienger. It’s really not. But, you know, I mean I, for one… balance beam… I just think it’s so hard to make it look in any way artistic. I mean really, the Chinese obviously, they are the ones that can still kind of make it look artistic. But, it’s even hard there. So, I don’t love that component of it at all. But yeah, you know, if I got to change it all, I don’t know if I could come up with a better way of doing it. I love the opportunity to push the envelope and do something harder. What is really lacking, though, is always striving to figure out a way to do something relevant and different. You know, I mean there’s different for silly… you know, for no real gymnastics reason. But if it’s real and it’s beautiful and it’s virtuous, doing something original is just phenomenal and should be rewarded, you know, extremely, you know, highly.

BLYTHE: Do you think that there’s any vault… and, I’m really just saying the handspring double front for women… do you think that that should be banned?

TIM DAGGETT: I don’t think it should be banned, but I think she should have lost about 5 points on it. [laughs]

JESSICA: Yes!

TIM DAGGETT: [laughs] Yeah it’s really silly because, I mean, its’ not even close. I mean it’s really not even close, and, you know, I mean, it’s just… she’s powerful, and she’s fearless, and so she runs down there, and you know I don’t have any… you know on the men’s side, you see the same thing. In the junior program the US you have these kids that are crazy and they run down and they do this vault and they score really high. And, it’s like, if I were judging that, you know, I would absolutely… I would find every single deduction, and there are so many. And they didn’t take them. They just didn’t take them. That’s all there is to it. And so, that’s an example of them just not applying the Code. You know…

JESSICA: Mhmm.

TIM DAGGETT: I mean if they judged that vault the way they judged angles on men’s high bar, then it would’ve lost at least 3 points, if not 4 points. Because there were errors everywhere. Every single place that there’s a deduction on vaulting, and if you go through them all, there’s a lot, you know, she had it. And they didn’t take them.

BLYTHE: Do you ever feel tempted to do some back seat coaching? You know, have you ever wanted to approach a gymnast’s coach and be like, “here she needs to point their toes or straighten their legs on this element” or things like that?

TIM DAGGETT: [laughs] Yeah. It’s hard not to. You know, a lot of these guys on the US side, you know, like I said, I grew up with, you know. And, so, like Arthur Akopyan, you know, I competed with him many many times. He’s a friend of mine. And Valeri Liukin, he… when I did my leg in Rotterdam, he and Vladimir Novikov came to visit me in the hospital. So, I’m standing there and I just want to say something. But, you know, I have a role in that situation, and I have to keep that hat on. Because I can never be a cheerleader for the USA. I can cheer like crazy when a USA athlete does a great thing, but if somebody from Romania or China did the same thing, I would cheer exactly the same.

UNCLE TIM: Elite program- I was just kind of wondering if you could talk a little bit about the JO program and the direction that it’s taking including adopting the elite scoring system. What are your thoughts on the JO program?

TIM DAGGETT: Well, you know, I think the JO program does a lot of things right. There’s no question about it. You know, I am a firm believer though that we, the United States, can be as competitive if we were a little kinder and gentler [laughs]. I know that’s not the question you were asking, but I just think that it doesn’t help that much. And I know that you have to be intense, and I know that you have to be passionate, but sometimes I think that we can be… a little too angry. And I think that’s the area where the USA can improve the most. And I think it’ll pay dividends in every aspect of gymnastics. From the amount of kids that want to do the sport, to the amount of kids that stay in the sport, to the amount of kids that stayed in the sport and are ambassadors for the rest of their lives for gymnastics.

JESSICA: Amen to that, sir! I am going to put that on a t-shirt!

TIM DAGGETT: [laughs]

JESSICA: I am not even kidding!

TIM DAGGETT: [laughs] That was great.

JESSICA: Seriously, I think you just echoed the sentiments of almost every gymnastics fan or kid who has done gymnastics in their entire lives.

TIM DAGGETT: Well it can be done.

JESSICA: Yeah!

TIM DAGGETT: It can be done. You have to be tough. There’s no question, you have to be tough. But you also have to have compassion, not just superficially, but in your soul. So…

JESSICA: Yes.

TIM DAGGETT: Enough said.

JESSICA: Yes, thank you for that.

UNCLE TIM: So if you had to summarize your coaching philosophy, what would you say it is?

TIM DAGGETT: Well, hopefully… I don’t have a coaching philosophy. I don’t. I have a teaching philosophy.

UNCLE TIM: Ok.

TIM DAGGETT: I want to make sure that anybody that was with me hopefully has had a great experience, and has learned in areas that will benefit them as individuals for the rest of their lives. And that’s the most important thing for me. And my paint and canvas is the sport of gymnastics. So that’s the forum that I have this opportunity to hopefully teach. And, you know, I’m not a wimp. You know, I’m tough. And, you know, I’m not brutal, but I know when somebody is capable of more. And you know, when they’re not giving everything they’ve got, I am on them to bring that out in them. But the thing that I do is, you know… for example, if I’m coaching a boy, and I know that, for whatever reason, he’s a little distracted today, you know maybe had a rough day at school, maybe his girlfriend broke up with him… he’s going to deal with situations like this for the rest of his life. And he has told me that he wants to be the best that he can be. And so, I never just pound on him. I say, “you know what, Paul, you can really be a champion. You know that. I know that. You have it in you. You have all of these wonderful qualities, but today you are just not getting it done. You’re just so distracted. You’ve got to get your mind in the game. You can do this, and you need to do it now.” You know, I mean that’s very different than, “what is the matter with you? I’m disgusted in you.” You know, that’s different. So my overall philosophy is to be a mentor and to be a teacher, and to use the sport of gymnastics as… I don’t know… as my instrument.

UNCLE TIM: Well if I ever come out of retirement I’ll definitely go to your gym.

TIM DAGGETT: [laughs]

UNCLE TIM: [laughs] So something that Blythe asked you about earlier was about coaching in terms of execution, and talking to coaches… Are there ever moments where you want to go up to the other coaches and say, “why are you treating your gymnast this way?” Or, are there ever moments you kind of want to step in and run interference?

TIM DAGGETT: Well, yeah, there are. And I have. You know, but that occurs when I’m a coach on the floor, not a broadcaster on the floor. And, you know what, I’m not perfect. I’m the first one to admit it, you know freely. And I’ve had people that have come up to me and, you know, given me advice… whether it’s technical advice or whatever. Because, you know, there are some people out there that need an attitude adjustment, but there are also some amazing coaches in our program that are tremendous mentors. And, you know, they notice something and they’ll come up to me and, you know, I’m as receptive as you can possibly be. But yes, on the other hand, as well, you know… I mean I just think that sometimes, you know, it’s like… for example, at a junior boy’s competition I’ve seen coaches have an athlete do something they’re not ready to do in a safe way. Say a Thomas on floor for example.

JESSICA: Oh god.

TIM DAGGETT: You know and I’ve gone right up and I’ve said… I said, “Hey you did a double back in your career right?” And they go, “yeah, sure.” And I go, “hey did you ever land short on a double back? Did you ever, like, put your hands down?” And they go, “yeah, of course, everybody does.” And I go, “you’re right. And your kid right there can’t even do a double back. And he’s doing a Thomas. What happens when he lands short?” You know, because it’s… we have a responsibility, obviously to the kids first and foremost.

BLYTHE: And that’s a good lead in to a question we had about the new Code that’s coming out. So, you know, if Bruno Grandi were to call you up tomorrow and as you for your input – what do you want to see in the new Code, what do you not want to see – what would you tell him?

TIM DAGGETT: Well, you know what, one of the biggest problems is… I really don’t think that you can absolutely know how to win the sport of gymnastics from the rules. That’s a big problem. And, you know, there are certain events that just, you know… men’s high bar, for example, I think it’s the worst. And men’s pommel horse. You never know how anything is going to be evaluated until you’re actually at the Games with the panel that’s on the floor. And that’s a huge mistake. I mean there are all these, you know, intricate pirouetting skills that… some of them are Ds, are Es, you connect on them. And in the US, a couple of years ago… I’ll give you an example. One of the kids that I coach, John Deaton, who is now at Stanford, we spent a year learning a Rybalko on high bar. And it’s tricky, it’s hard to learn, you know, for some kids especially. So we did that, we also did an endo full, it was another D skill. And he went to the JO Nationals and he did a beautiful routine, and he had three of these pirouetting skills. And he did double double laid out, beautiful release, stuck it, all this stuff, and he was, like, 37th in the country. And I was flabbergasted and I was furious. And it’s like… the panel was instructed at that time – which is fine – to be extremely critical on these pirouetting skills. And so he basically lost five tenths on all of them. And if you look at, you know, someone like Zou Kai, if you apply the rules to his pirouetting elements, it’s five tenths off on every one. That’s all there is to it. But, that’s not how it gets judged. And so, that’s very very frustrating. And it’s a dumb rule anyway. I’ll give you an example. Epke does that same stalder Rybalko, and it is crisp and it’s dynamic and he slaps his hand on the bar, and it just… Wow. But if you freeze frame where he is grabbing the bar, it’s low. But, who cares [laughs]. It’s an unbelievable element, and it doesn’t need to go to a handstand. It doesn’t need to. You know, if the men tried to do that, you know first of all the surface area of a an uneven bar and a high bar are so different, and the men actually have to be in a complete dorsal grip, whereas the women really don’t. And if they were to do that, they would be able to do the sport of gymnastics at that level for another six months because every single gymnast in the world would develop a shoulder injury. It’s just… it’s non-sustainable. And so it’s a dumb rule. And so, they really need to get rid of a lot of the dumb rules.

UNCLE TIM: So what would you say are some of the other dumb rules that we have? Just out of curiosity.

TIM DAGGETT: Well it’s pretty dumb that we, you know, saw people doing triple backs on floor that were capable of doing them, you know in 19… what, 1980? That’s pretty dumb. [laughs] And they’re not doing them now? It’s really dumb when someone tries to do one and they can’t do it, but obviously there are many people who can do that element. And that would be very exciting to the sport. I think that the one and three tenth deduction for a step is really… all it does is it enables people to cheat, really is what it comes down to. The way it’s applied, you never know. I mean you can see somebody take the smallest of steps and, you know, if you look at their score, you try to figure out it looks like they took three tenths off and someone takes one that’s just as big and only gets a tenth off. That’s not a very good rule personally. Let’s see, what else is not good… well on men’s high bar, for example, or men’s parallel bars, that there’s not a connection… I mean if you’re going to have a connection, you should either have connection on every event, or you shouldn’t have connection. I mean it’s crazy that you can get connection on high bar, and you can’t get it on parallel bars. I mean that’s just silly. Pommel horse, you know… it’s a very challenging event. You know to put into this box… you know to try to make it logical… but because they’ve done that, you know, there are so many things that you’re not even allowed to do anymore. And it’s just, you know, it’s silly. You know, like there’s a skill that… I don’t even think it’s in the Code anymore, it’s called a Nikolai, and do you guys know what a Nikolai is on pommel horse?

JESSICA, BLYTHE: No.

TIM DAGGETT: It’s three back Moores in a row. Back Moore down. Back Moore up. Back Moore down. Or vice versa. Up down up. And it’s beautiful. It’s gorgeous, and you can’t do that anymore because it’s three elements in a row. But it’s not, because the nature of pommel horse is that each of those are a little bit different when you’re doing them additively. Who can forget either the Mogilny or the Artemev on parallel bars. You know, one of the most popular things was, right before a double pike, to do two back tosses in a row to double pike. Absolutely artistry in motion. And you can’t do that. And, why? Why would you say that you can’t straddle in any way unless it’s already in the Code of Points? That just is beyond understanding to me. I mean I didn’t love it, but the Chinese came to… I think it was the 1985 World Championships, and everybody was doing this, you know, half-in half-out in a side somi type way. And it was cool. It was absolutely cool. And, you know, they don’t allow it. It doesn’t make sense. I did a skill on still rings that you can’t do. In the Olympics I did… right from the bottom I would go into a deep pancake and straddle kip right into a V. And aesthetically I thought it was really cool. And I thought it looked good, and people really liked it back then, but you can’t do it. That doesn’t make sense. You know, why? Why in a sport, that, you know, you’re supposed to do something artistic – where artistic is part of the word – would you limit it? That doesn’t make any sense. Can you imagine in the world of modern dance, them coming up with a rule saying that you’re not allowed to straddle your legs in a certain way? Or tip your head back in a certain way? It’s absurd. There are a lot of them like that too. A lot of rules like that.

UNCLE TIM: Ok. And so how do you think that… it sounds like you kind of miss the era of artistic gymnastics in some ways. How do you think that we can go back to… or, in the future, incorporate more artistry into gymnastics?

TIM DAGGETT: Well, that’s a really really hard question. Because, in theory, I believe that the 10.0 system was risk, originality, and virtuosity. I think that that is, in a perfect world, where no cheating was involved [laughs], that that’s the best way that gymnastics should go. Because it’s encouraging all the things that take people’s breath away. Doing, you know, the triple back on floor. And doing something, you know, completely different. And doing something better than anybody’s ever done it before. But, you know, the problem is it’s very easy to cheat when you do that. Judges from different countries can form blocks, and, you know, this could be original in one meet and not at this meet, and something that’s been done a bunch of times. So it is… it’s a very very big problem, but I do know that the artistic component needs to be… it needs to be constantly monitored. And, you know, it’s funny because, I mean Zou Kai, I think by the rules on floor he did deserve to win. You know I think it’s the best routine he’s ever done on floor. But I just don’t understand how there’s not a way, in the rules that, just the way he stands and turns around isn’t evaluated critically. I mean every gymnastics fan in the world knows that yes, it’s amazingly difficult and finishing with a stuck double double on floor is really hard. But he could definitely be more artistic on that event. I was so happy that they got that right on high bar. They didn’t get it right enough, because he shouldn’t have even won a medal there. But yeah, I mean it’s got to be artistic or, in my opinion, it’s pretty boring. It’s just not… I mean you all see it. You see something that takes your breath away, and it’s like, that’s why we love gymnastics. Not because it’s just hard. If it’s a little unusual and it’s really hard, and it just makes you go “oh wow.” That’s gymnastics, and I wish they could get that right.

UNCLE TIM: Ok, great. So we have time for maybe one quick fun question, and then we have a favor to ask of you. So, ok we were wondering what’s your most embarrassing gymnastics moment?

TIM DAGGETT: [laughs]

UNCLE TIM: Can you think of any?

TIM DAGGETT: Wow. Umm…

UNCLE TIM: For instance, I’ve run into balance beams after doing tumbling passes… I can’t think of all the embarrassing moments in my life, but I’m sure you can think of some.

TIM DAGGETT: Let me think here for a second. This might sound funny but it’s like… we went out on tour, we did a whole bunch of spots, and… this really isn’t that embarrassing. But, at the time I was young, and so I was incredibly embarrassed. And we toured, and we had some of the rhythmic gymnasts with us. And so you know for the first 10 or 12 stops or whatever the guys were all messing around with the rhythmic stuff. And I was like, “I’m never… I’m just not going to do that.” Because I was afraid. And in Philadelphia, for a show, I of course go over and pick up the hoop and I’m using it like a hula hoop, and it’s like half the front page of the sports edition the next day.

JESSICA, BLYTHE, UNCLE TIM: [laughs]

TIM DAGGETT: That was pretty embarrassing. And you know, I was like “I’m the only one that’s not doing it.” And of course I’m the one that… that’s karma for you.

UNCLE TIM: I’ll have to look that up in the newspaper, you said Philadelphia? [laughs]

TIM DAGGETT: Yeah [laughs]

UNCLE TIM: Great, thank you so much for your time, Tim, and we appreciate all your thoughts on gymnastics, and, yeah, we really appreciate it, so thank you.

TIM DAGGETT: My pleasure, you guys are great.

BLYTHE, JESSICA: Thank you so much, Tim.


[[Listener feedback]]

SPANNY: We welcome your feedback. You can at gymcastic@gmail.com Gymcastic we are also on Twitter and also a Facebook page. We welcome your comments. We also welcome your questions. If you have anything you would like us to discuss we welcome your suggestions. And thank you again for keeping in mind we are newbies at this, we are novices, we are doing this out of passion, out of love for the sport. And we appreciate every opportunity we get and that you give us to grow from our experience and to get better at this. So thank you again and please write in with any comments, questions, maybe not trolling stuff, but anything else we welcome.

JESSICA: Thanks. Ok so next week we are going to talk about… Next week we have a really exciting interview. We have Anna Li on the show. She’s going to tell you what happened in England with her injury. She’s going to talk about how she went from kind of having a disastrous almost meet at Classics in Chicago to making her first Olympic team as an alternate. And she has some good [laughs] insight on the tour. She’ll tell us one of the nicknames they have for the costume that they all do not like. And I want to remind you guys as Spanny said, you can find us on Twitter, on Facebook, you can email us- gymcastic@gmail.com, and we love to hear from you, we always have a feedback section on the show. And so with that we will see you next week. I’m Jessica O’Beirne from Masters-Gymnastics.com.

BLYTHE: I’m Blythe from the Gymnastics Examiner

SPANNY: I’m Spanny Tampson from Spanny’s Big Fake Smile

UNCLE TIM: And I’m Uncle Tim from Uncle Tim Talk’s Men’s Gym

JESSICA: Thanks everybody, see you next time.

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