Sunday, January 31, 2016

Five Ways To Prank A Gymnastics Meet

Prank These People
Tonight was the second to last meet for my eldest daughter in her third year of competing as a gymnast. So when I add it all up, that means I've been to a couple of dozen meets at this point, and have spent over a hundred hours in the crowd, waiting and watching.

And in all that time, I'm pretty much struck by one consistent thread.

Nearly everyone is taking this *way* too seriously. Especially the kids.

So, without further ado, here are five pranking possibilities that would liven up the proceedings, without really harming anyone. (And before some parent has a meltdown and reports me, not so much that I'll do it myself. Besides, I don't have the connections or skills.) Let's get pranking!

1) Ringer Rejection

The kids who perform at these meets are amazing, dedicated and talented, but they aren't the best in the world. So what I'd like to see happen is have someone at that level brought in as if she were an ordinary kid, and have her take the first spot, probably on floor, and do her absurdly over the top best... and have the judge give it a low score. Just to film everyone's reactions. You want to do better than 5.5, kids? You are going to have to beat *that*.

(Then, you reveal the guest's actual identity, and maybe have her do the other three apparatus and sign some autographs before leaving. Sure, it might delay things by a half hour, but it'd be memorable.)

2) Floor Magic

How hard is it, really, to swap in a different audio track for a movie file? Not very, which means that we should be able to replay floor exercises during dead time -- which for the spectators, is a substantial amount, given that each change of station adds 15 minutes of warm up time, not to mention the close of business nonsense before the awards -- but with substantially different audio.

Sure, some folks might get upset by Tibetan throat singing, goats singing Christmas carols, or the theme music to "The Venture Brothers" and "Archer" as the background to their precious charges, but, um, eff those people. There's humor to be mined here, and so long as you make things goofy enough and treat everyone the same, it'll work out. Plus, hey, goat singing. Everyone loves goat singing.

3) Foam Fight

Every gym has them; pits filled with foam that are used to teach the kids how to fall properly. Since gyms are also pretty limited in terms of size and layout, these pits are pretty much just waiting for some kind of use. Any, really.

So instead of doing stuff like handstand contests at the close of the event, let's just give the kids what they really want, after all of these months of training... the chance to either chuck their coaches into the pits, or drown them in foam bricks.

Oh, and if you want to give the parents a few bricks to chuck? We're on the hook for thousands of dollars a year. I think we've earned some foam.

4) Team Goofus

This one's easy, and honestly, I know any number of kids that would gladly volunteer for this. The idea is to have an unknown gym compete as the Goofus Squad, and have them do as much weird or absurd stuff as possible. Maybe do a routine on the beam while checking their phone, a floor routine that involves standing in place for uncomfortably long periods of time, or break dancing on the vault. Give a kid the chance to do safe but weird, and I think you'd get high entertainment value. And the most popular team in town.

5) Coach Lottery

One more for the dead time: by lottery, a coach is chosen, and has to perform a routine on the apparatus of his or her choice. What would work here is how much the kids would mark out for seeing something they've never seen before, not to mention how much it would rule if the coach in question played up just how little they wanted to be there, or how rusty they were. (And sure, fix the lottery if you're worried about injury. I trust these people to make it look like they aren't prepared before they do something.)

Any further ideas, fire away...

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