There are some sports people are prone to follow throughout the entire year. For example, plenty of people watch football in the fall and winter. During the rest of the year, they follow the draft, team arrangements, training camp, and more. Other sports are only a blip on the radar once every four years. For example, gymnastics is something average folks only watch during the Olympics. However, thanks to the Internet and one incredibly talented gymnast, people around America are becoming incredibly pumped about gymnastics.
The excitement started with a UCLA gymnast named Sophina DeJesus. Impressively, DeJesus helped her team score a win against Utah with an incredible floor routine. Even more impressively, DeJesus stunned the globe with her fourth place gymnastic routine. It went viral shortly after she completed the routine, and it is extremely easy to understand why.
Her routine earned a nearly perfect 9.925. Her tumbles and flips across the mat were stunning to see. She nailed every landing, and you could tell she was composed, confident, and having the time of her life. According to Cosmopolitan.com, DeJesus was the first gymnast to hit a trick called the quan during a competition. This is cause enough for celebration. However, it was the hip-hop moves the 21-year-old senior wove throughout her floor routine that sent the Internet on fire.
DeJesus performed hip-hop moves between her tumbles and flips. Some of these hip-hop moves were from popular music videos already making their rounds on the Internet. The moves sent a clear message of gymnastic mastery and cultural pride. So far, more than 18.7 million people have watched the routine on the Internet. Thousands of comments have been made on the performance video. People have not been shy about praising her flawless performance and her message of cultural pride.
Fascinatingly, the arena had a similar response at the conclusion of the floor routine. The crowd chanted for DeJesus to receive a perfect score of 10. You can even hear this chant at the end of the video. It was as if the crowd knew they had all witnessed a historic performance, and they knew it would be appearing on social media accounts around the world in a matter of hours.
African-American athletes frequently find themselves under criticism. Sometimes, they are inappropriately perceived as underdogs competing in sports traditionally dominated by white athletes. It’s true that African-Americans have been making advances in the field of gymnastics. Perhaps the most recent was the gymnast Gabby Douglas taking home a gold medal from the London Olympics. Still, the sport is overwhelmingly white, and this is what made the performance by DeJesus so incredible and empowering. DeJesus wasn’t trying to hide her race or her cultural heritage. She wasn’t trying to appear white. DeJesus was comfortable being herself in her performance. The performance was a clear statement that black bodies and black dance moves unquestionably belong in the sport of gymnastics.
Hopefully, this video will help change the culture of gymnastics around the world. It has been reported that international judges of gymnastics overwhelmingly prefer more traditional floor routines. International judges are reported to also frown upon elaborate choreography. If performed during an Olympic games, it is very possible that the routine performance by DeJesus may not have earned such an incredibly high score. This is why it might be an act of social justice to continue to share this video with the world. If more people view, like, and share this video, international judges may take note and refine their opinion about what a gymnastic floor performance is supposed to look like. Share it now!