PDA

View Full Version : Boys in figure skating Unite! High school editorial: "Stop Hating on Ice Skating!"



Pages : 1 [2] 3

aliceanne
04-15-2011, 02:29 PM
^ Yes, that's probably true, and there's likely lots of reasons why the sport is looked down upon by "jocks" and by people who are not necessarily jocks. I think the main reason it is disparaged is because of a complete lack of understanding (abetted by the way those who control the sport view it and fail to adequately promote it due to hidebound fuddy duddy traditions and fears).
.

This too. It evolved in Britain as an exclusive club sport for upper class men. The early skating clubs and rinks in the U.S. were very discriminatory also. So that contributed to it's lack of mainstream appeal.

aftershocks
04-15-2011, 08:31 PM
^ Great point, aliceanne, thanks for mentioning. Reminds me of Dorothy Hamill and Carol Heiss talking about being snubbed by exclusive figure skating clubs (neither came from well-to-do families). However, their talent led to others interceding for them to help make it possible for them to join clubs, which was necessary in order to compete at Nationals. Mabel Fairbanks’ talent did not help her join a club in her day because she was African American. However, it’s been reported that Maribel Vinson Owen noticed Fairbanks’ talent and helped her get ice time and lessons. Fairbanks was able to skate internationally in shows, and she is famous for developing the spinning move (a signature move of Rudy Galindo) where you hold one leg up in front of the body, and she brought together and coached Tai Babilonia and Randy Gardner when they were very young skaters.

The sport’s exclusivity (snubbing of talented skaters) and fear of anything less than the appearance of macho in male skating has so hurt the sport. Fortunately, because it is such a wonderful sport, it somehow has survived in spite of its more faulty traditions. Since the sport has been going through a difficult transitional phase, it is hard to determine what this period will mean for the sport’s future. Certainly, a young man like Brian Benton speaking out is a good thing that will hopefully lead to more young men speaking out and more youngsters of every background and gender becoming involved in the sport, whether or not they reach the highest levels. And hopefully, at some point, TPTB will learn to develop a more inclusive vision, and understand how to better promote fs, and how to nurture all the skaters with less politics – a lot to ask for sure. In any case, simply to skate is to be filled with joy. I think that is the essence of the sport’s appeal.

manleywoman
04-15-2011, 09:05 PM
USFS ignored adult skaters for years too. They failed to realize that once skaters turn 18, they would like to keep skating. And eventually those 18 year olds grow up and have income that they can keep spending on skating for decades.

Mindboggling how slow they are to adapt.

ltnskater
04-16-2011, 03:42 AM
Right on, manleywoman!

And good for you, Brian Benton! (Did I just sound like Dick Button?)

Haha, I can just picture Dick Button going good for you, lucinda ruh!

It's funny how this reminded me about a time when one of my skating teammates commenting on football players practice. So football players are complaining about 6 am practice, because they have to get up at 6 am.

My friend responded..."No no, you don't call getting up at 6 am, a 6 am practice, you only call it a 6 am practice when you're ON THE ICE at 6 am like we are (or on the field...etc.).

And of course, there was that other time where the school newspaper wrote about the gruelling and tough 6 or 7 am practices the men's hockey team had to go through (nu-uh, they are never on the ice at 6 am, only 7 am for only 2 days a week, and we train 4 days a week at 6 in the mornings). Way to get the facts wrong...cause we were on the ice before the hockey team from 6 - 7 am, and they got on the ice after our practice...hmmm

aftershocks
04-16-2011, 06:15 AM
Wow, manleywoman, your comments about adult skaters add another fascinating dimension to this, and you certainly have firsthand experience. That’s so true about the mind-boggling inability of TPTB to lead with vision. I actually think that many people who control the sport of figure skating understand very little about it, and that may be at the root of the sport’s problems. I don’t like to compare fs with tennis, but at least many players are involved in the leadership decision-making for tennis, and that sport has been promoted fairly well to the larger population which provides an important source of revenue.

It goes without saying that speed skating and figure skating have little in common except ice. Speed skating was developed out of the practical need to find a way to traverse the ice in winter, and later racing across the ice was organized as a sport, while figure skating developed as a leisure pastime. It is completely antiquated that these two individual sports are still bound together. The biggest problem is that few figure skaters hold important decision-making roles at the highest levels of the ISU. Why should speed skaters control what happens in the sport of figure skating? If speed skating needs to piggy back on another sport, why not join the USATF, and become the winter version of track and field?

Okay, if that’s not gonna happen, couldn’t they at least get with it, and update the way figure skating and speed skating are organized? Above all, they need to allow more figure skaters to control the decision-making process for the sport of figure skating. Get with the times please, and learn how to adapt to the twenty-first century.

Dick Button is a great ambassador for the sport. I learned much of what I know about figure skating from listening to his entertaining and expert commentary over the years. If the sport were understood and better appreciated by the larger public, it would be a no-brainer to everyone that Mr. Button is a national treasure.

Justathoughtabl
04-16-2011, 04:51 PM
Very interesting thread. I especially enjoyed your comments, Aftershocks. As someone who is not an expert and really only followed figure skating at the Olympics until recently, I know from my own experience that I always thought of the sport as enjoyable, but also very old fashioned. I never went to a skating show because I thought the commercials made them seem hopelessly outdated. Most of the men seemed ...not feminine, but not macho either. They seemed to appeal to the over-65 crowd by playing up a sort of Disney showbiz aspect of skating. I'm talking about Scott Hamilton, for instance. I was not aware of many skaters at the time. I was interested somewhat because unlike a lot of people my age, I love the MGM musicals and have a soft spot for that kind of thing. So when Kurt Browning did Singing in the Rain, I loved it. But if you're going to try to sell your sport as entertainment, you can't keep pedaling the same thing decade after decade. You've got to be open to a variety of types of performers and entertainers. You've also got to be open to different kinds of performances. I was surprised reading Johnny Weir's description of the resistance that he, Melissa Gregory, and Denis Pethukov faced when they tried to skate as a trio. Why is that such an oddity in skating shows? And that number turned out to be a success. If skating officials can play up all those different personalities and encourage them to explore many different kinds of performances, it seems to me they'll get more people watching during competitions as well. Imagine the possibilities. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on Ice, artful and athletic. What boy wouldn't like that?

As for attracting more boys to the sport, I think shows like Battle of the Blades can do a world of good. At least two hockey players from that show have expressed their newfound respect for figure skating. But more than that, I think it's going to take a sea change in the way North Americans think of figure skating. And I don't know if that's going to happen, as long as boys don't get experience skating so they realize how hard it is. It's the same thinking as ballet.

aftershocks
04-18-2011, 06:22 AM
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JXtd7xq7URM :) Kurt as Kelly

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FVnAVkMI_A4&feature=fvsr So much fun

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2SxtqOEi6og&feature=related Classic

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IIhB-My2_KE "Mesmerizing ..."

Thanks Justathoughtabl, for citing the above great performances… I also had to include Kurt’s Brick House and Casablanca. :)

The Fallen Angels performance by Johnny, Melissa and Denis was so different, engaging and creative. Their program having been treated with resistance by TPTB, is so typical and so self-defeating for the sport. A trio of dancers performing to great music and choreography is the kind of outside-the-box creativity that elevates the sport. Check out all the youtube comments (as well as the commentators’ words of praise).

I agree with your above post – your observations offer lots of food for thought. In ballet during the 1960s, Rudolf Nureyev and NY City Ballet’s Edward Villella were influential in changing the way male dancers were perceived (as was Mikhail Baryshnikov during the 1970s). Villella is now CEO and founding artistic director of the Miami Ballet
http://www.miamicityballet.org/edward.php

"Villella showed that a tough brash kid out of Maritime College could turn into a major artist, and in doing so, changed the way men danced in America as well as the way male dancers were perceived."

Makes no difference that Nureyev was gay and Villella was straight. What mattered was their enormous talent, the strength of their personalities and their virtuoso athleticism and artistry. What matters, I think, is transcending stereotypes so that sexual preferences are no longer an issue (hidden, ignored, ridiculed, challenged via macho pretenses, accepted under the surface but an uncomfortable topic to bring out in the open). Gender differences and sexual preferences truly shouldn’t be an issue in either figure skating or dance or in any field of endeavor.

Aceon6
04-18-2011, 08:18 PM
I think it goes beyond just skating. Nearly all the "upper class" sports have been ridiculed at one time or another, including golf and tennis. Golf had Arnold Palmer to get it into the mainstream, and tennis had McEnroe and many others. There are now many ways for young people to participate in golf or tennis without a huge financial sacrifice, so a typical 7th grader probably knows many people who play.

Unfortunately, that's not true for figure skating, so said 7th grader has no reference at all, or just a passing reference from TV.

aliceanne
04-19-2011, 05:26 PM
Very interesting thread. I especially enjoyed your comments, Aftershocks. As someone who is not an expert and really only followed figure skating at the Olympics until recently, I know from my own experience that I always thought of the sport as enjoyable, but also very old fashioned. I never went to a skating show because I thought the commercials made them seem hopelessly outdated. Most of the men seemed ...not feminine, but not macho either. They seemed to appeal to the over-65 crowd by playing up a sort of Disney showbiz aspect of skating. I'm talking about Scott Hamilton, for instance. I was not aware of many skaters at the time. I was interested somewhat because unlike a lot of people my age, I love the MGM musicals and have a soft spot for that kind of thing. So when Kurt Browning did Singing in the Rain, I loved it. But if you're going to try to sell your sport as entertainment, you can't keep pedaling the same thing decade after decade. You've got to be open to a variety of types of performers and entertainers. You've also got to be open to different kinds of performances. I was surprised reading Johnny Weir's description of the resistance that he, Melissa Gregory, and Denis Pethukov faced when they tried to skate as a trio. Why is that such an oddity in skating shows? And that number turned out to be a success. If skating officials can play up all those different personalities and encourage them to explore many different kinds of performances, it seems to me they'll get more people watching during competitions as well. Imagine the possibilities. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon on Ice, artful and athletic. What boy wouldn't like that?

As for attracting more boys to the sport, I think shows like Battle of the Blades can do a world of good. At least two hockey players from that show have expressed their newfound respect for figure skating. But more than that, I think it's going to take a sea change in the way North Americans think of figure skating. And I don't know if that's going to happen, as long as boys don't get experience skating so they realize how hard it is. It's the same thinking as ballet.


I think it is hard to promote skating as both art and sport at the same time. Sport demands uniformity otherwise how can you compare the athletes and score them fairly? If you are a competitive skater with an extensive support team who is spending $50K a year to skate you are going to do the jumps and spins that give you the most points whether they suit your body type or not. This in turn limits the music selections. Also what is the point of inventing your own moves if they can't be scored?

Most of the innovative and artistic skaters were also involved with the arts (Cranston, Curry, Cousins). They in turn invited other artistic skaters (dancers and musicians) to join their tours. All of them were men and none of them were male role models. They also competed at a time when figures took up a good part of a skater's practice time. They were not pressured to include all of the technical difficulty that skater's are today. The difficult moves were the highlights in their programs, not the beginning, middle, and end.

As long as you have costumes and music I don't think skating will be a "manly" sport, and afterall, sport is about the only thing the macho men have left. Very few jobs nowadays call for their talents.

aliceanne
04-19-2011, 07:59 PM
Maybe the skaters who want to do their own thing should start youtube channels like Nicole. They could bypass the judges and rules, or someone else owning the rights to their performances. Skating fans watch a lot of stuff on youtube anyway.

heckles
04-19-2011, 10:08 PM
What seemed to me like a great way to tell the world how great I was, was apparently just an invitation for everyone in my classes to make fun of me.

If Brian Benton's everyday attitude is reflected in the editorial, his skating is not the reason that his classmates don't like him.

ltnskater
04-21-2011, 07:55 PM
If Brian Benton's everyday attitude is reflected in the editorial, his skating is not the reason that his classmates don't like him.

I think you're reading too much into the direct quote from the editorial, the way it is written puts it in such a way that makes it a sharp contrast to him being made fun of for being a figure skater. It is just a way of making the reading more interesting and emphasizes certain points by using such contrasting elements, frequently seen in pieces of literary work.

I seriously doubt he wore that t-shirt to school and started bragging about how good he was for competing at nationals... much more likely is that he wore the shirt because he was proud of his accomplishment, unexpectedly, however, his classmates made fun of him because he was a figure skater which is the point he was trying to make in the editorial.

aftershocks
04-23-2011, 07:52 AM
Edited to add:

icenetwork news feature dated 4/21/11

http://web.icenetwork.com/news/article.jsp?ymd=20110421&content_id=18076588&vkey=ice_news

Seems as if someone is catching on, as it's highly likely Scrufflet's #3 post in this thread inspired the above feature. We know Hersh comes to FSU to see what fans are thinking and to get ideas, so obviously other reporters and icenetwork officials do the same.

Good to see this coverage by icenetwork in the U.S., since Battle of the Blades is not broadcast here, and can only be viewed on youtube by U.S. fans, which means it is unlikely to be seen by a mainstream U.S. audience. I heard about Laroque earlier this year in the FSU thread on BOTB, but I didn't know the aftermath of his experience with figure skating had led to the wonderful things he is doing to advocate for the sport.


I think it is hard to promote skating as both art and sport at the same time.
... As long as you have costumes and music I don't think skating will be a "manly" sport, and afterall, sport is about the only thing the macho men have left. Very few jobs nowadays call for their talents.

I don't think anyone is advocating for figure skating to be a "manly" sport. The point is that TPTB need to learn how to promote the sport, and how to promote the skaters, and the public-at-large need to understand that fs is a very difficult sport that deserves more fans and recognition for its unique history, qualities, and for its amazing athletes/ artists. FS should not be considered a "sissy" sport, and the focus should be on all the skaters, not just the ladies. The men's field is so strong and has such depth right now, so this is a great opportunity to take advantage of that and to promote the fact that the sport is made up of all kinds of people who are drawn to it because of the rewards of mastering the difficult technical elements and the huge challenge of developing as an artist.

Just because it hasn't been done and may be difficult to do, doesn't mean that figure skating can't be promoted as both art and sport at the same time.

heckles
04-23-2011, 10:12 PM
I think you're reading too much into the direct quote from the editorial, the way it is written puts it in such a way that makes it a sharp contrast to him being made fun of for being a figure skater.


He chose to write that "direct quote"; the reader can choose to see him as a whiner who is upset that the world doesn't buy into his perceived greatness. The rest of his editorial doesn't make him look any better.

aftershocks
04-23-2011, 10:57 PM
Yep, everyone has free will. Common sense, however, is often in short supply. While Benton's editorial might not make him "look better" than any of his peers, I'll bet he can skate better than any of them.

Takes courage to speak out and stand up for your beliefs. Takes little energy, even less thought and no courage at all to heckle this editorial by a high school student, heckles. If that one sentence you cited sums up for you what Benton is talking about, then I think your "everyday attitude is reflected" by the lack of perspective and limited perception you exhibit in your comments. Sure, anyone can disagree with what Benton is saying, and back it up with their differing viewpoints, but that's not what you are doing, so far.