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Posted at 10:29 AM ET, 08/11/2008

Why Americans Like Women's Gymnastics

By Dan Steinberg

A few days ago, a foreign writer came into our media-center office and asked us which American athlete was poised to become America's sweetheart this month. The implication was that this sweetheart would be of the female persuasion. We all thought about it, and then all of us said Shawn Johnson first.

Why is Shawn Johnson in line to become America's athletic sweetheart? Why do Americans suddenly get all into the Alicia Sacramones of the world, even while better known female athletes like Candace Parker and Serena Williams are competing in the same Games? What is it about that particular sport? I asked some members of the U.S. women's gymnastics team, plus former coach and NBC commentator Bela Karolyi, to help answer this question.

By Dan Steinberg  | August 11, 2008; 10:29 AM ET
Categories:  Olympics  
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This exchange looked a little uncomfortable, Bog: "So it's not because you're small or whatever... small and cute...?"

This made me really uncomfortable: "you have dis ingredient of, of, of feminine beauty showed on de floor..." Um, okay, Bela... barely pubescent girls evince feminine beauty? Maybe you should stop talking for a while.

Posted by: Nate in the PDX | August 11, 2008 10:53 AM | Report abuse

I'm gonna go with the whiteness. That usually helps.

Olympic gymnastics is creepy.

Posted by: Grant | August 11, 2008 11:07 AM | Report abuse

"Because America loves hot white jailbait ass" -Family Guy

Posted by: Dr. Diddy | August 11, 2008 11:10 AM | Report abuse

My favorite part of the olympic coverage last night, besides the 20 minute interview that Bob Costas had with Bush, was when they just had showed the women's gymastics team huddle after they were done, and you got to hear them say "I'm so proud of all of you" about 40 times and then giggle at inside jokes. 5 minutes well spent.

Posted by: Giannicolus Jones | August 11, 2008 11:26 AM | Report abuse

Because Alicia Sacramone can knock a dude out!

Posted by: nerditry | August 11, 2008 11:54 AM | Report abuse

If you want to argue that teenage gymnasts have no claim to feminine beauty, look to the German gymnast from Russia who looks like a boy in a leotard. She is not feminine, and she's a full grown woman, wife, and mother. Being cute is always going to draw attention, that's why babies are cute, so when they spend a night crying and projectile vomiting on your back, you keep them around. Not that I speak from experience or anything. ;

Posted by: Maggie | August 11, 2008 3:03 PM | Report abuse

Big Stein,

You need to find trap-shooting bronze medalist Corey Cogdell and make her America's sweetheart. Chicks with shotguns would really widen your readership.

Posted by: Bill Fitzgerald | August 11, 2008 10:43 PM | Report abuse

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