A Massachusetts Interscholastic Athletic Association spokesman apologized for dubbing gymnastics "a girls' sport" after Olympic gold medalist Aly Raisman scolded him on Twitter and other notable gymnasts voiced their displeasure.
“It’s a girls’ sport,” MIAA spokesman Paul Wetzel told The Boston Globe in the wake of the state organization's decision to drop boys' gymnastics from its list of sanctioned sports. “When was the last time you watched boys’ gymnastics? They don’t get on the cover of the Wheaties box. They don’t get the endorsements.”
That's when Raisman -- who appeared to be in line for her own Wheaties box after winning two gold medals and a bronze for the USA Women's Gymnastics Team at the 2012 Summer Olympics in London -- took to Twitter to give Wetzel a piece of her mind, calling the MIAA spokesman's comments "extremely disappointing" and "ridiculous."
The Bay State's two highest-profile boys' gymnastics products also blasted the state association's 10-2 vote to eliminate males from officially competing in The Globe.
“I think it’s a travesty,” said Tim Daggett, a former West Springfield (Mass.) High standout who captured gold at the 1984 Olympics. “It’s an opportunity that isn’t going to be there for kids who really love the sport. To not be able to represent your high school in the sport you love, it’s very upsetting, without any question.”
One-time Braintree (Mass.) High star, 1976 Olympics bronze medalist and former USA Men's Gymnastics Team coach Peter Kormann added: “I think it’s a shame. I thought it was a poor decision. There’s nothing to be gained here.”
As a result, Wetzel publicly apologized in The Globe on Wednesday. “Sorry I said what I said. I was trying to make a point, and I put my foot in mouth.” Still, he claimed the MIAA is currently not considering reversing its decision.
If the ruling stands, the state's seven high schools that currently feature boys' gymnastics teams (Andover, Attleboro, Braintree, Burlington, Lowell, Newton North, and Newton South) will conduct their final sanctioned event at the state tournament this month.
Newton North High boys' gymnastics coach Steven Chan told The Globe he believed most male gymnasts would then join their respective school's girls' gymnastics teams.
The MIAA ruling resulted from the National Federation of High School Associations' decision to stop writing rules for boys' gymnastics since only about 100 schools in three states nationwide currently feature sanctioned squads, according to The Globe report.