Japanese - American Coaches Interview Centering On The Socio-Cultural Aspects Of Olympic Success On Tu esda y, j anuary 25, th e T emple University Varsity Club proudly presented a competition between the japanese national team and the East ern A ll-Stars. Prior to the competition, a panel discussion was held between the j apanese's team leader (coach), team manager (who participated as a judge in the evening's competition), and the United S tates' Olympic gymnastic team's coach (acting as the eastern A ll-Star team coach during the evening's competition). As a special gesture as well as to broaden the perspective of the discussion, T emple'S team coach was also present. Th e purpose of the panel discussion was to identify and explicate the ex tent to which various cu lt ma l differences come to bear upon the preparation of j apanese and American Olympic gymnastic teams. It was held that the sport of gym nastics as well as the relations betw een the participant countries would be augmented positively as a resu lt of such understandings. To these ends, however loft y, the discussion was dedicated. Participants - - - - - - - - - - Pete Nagafuchi - Interpreter (Temple Univ. Shuji Tsurumi - Team Leader, Japan Grad. Student) Hiroshi Aiba - Team Manager, Jap an Frederick C. Hatfield - Moderator (Temple Abie Grossfeld - Olympic Coach 1972, USA Uni v. Grad. Stude nt) Bill Coco - Temple University Teac h Coac h
Q. What level of popularity does gymnastics enjoy in japiln? The United States? Aiba - The sport is very popular in senior high schools and colleges. Many elementary schools have little equipment except mats. G"r ossfeld - I've been to Japan a few times and found that what equipment there was was usually very good, especially their mats. They have very good land ing mats . Their gyms are very cold in the winter~-U.S. gyms are much better as far as gyms go, but then that makes little difference in preparing gymnasts. Q. Is gymnastics funded by the government or by private enterprises? Tsurumi - Gymnastics in the schools is not funded by the government--rather by the Japanese Gymnastics Federation , an organization similar to your Amateur Athletic Union . They sponsor gymnastics in the schools, and particularly those schools in which gymnastics is very popular. Aiba - General physical education programs on the elementary level require gymnastics as they do volley ball, baseball, etc. Tumbling, vaulting and p-bars are required , and thus in senior high the basic tricks are not taught because they _have been I~ar:.!!.ed already. The interested person can join gymnastic clubs which, like other sports, are sponsored by the senior high school. At the junior high level special instructors are hired to handle strictly .club activities. Grossfeld - The Olympic team is funded by private donations from corporations and the like. Olympic bylaws prohibit government funding to keep politics out of sport. Dues from athletic clubs are used sometimes to send a member to the Olympics. Coco - Smaller clubs have been funded by private funds from parents and the like, but the trend nowadays is for these small clubs to become incorporated so they can put on demonstrations , shows, etc., to raise funds. This has become necessa ry because of the tremendous cost of sending gymnasts around the country to compete. Solicitation of funds is also practiced by incorporated clubs. Q. Is there funding in the form of subsidized training camps or clinics? Grossfeld - International rules allow two week of Olympic preparatory training wh ich are to be taken just prior to departure for the Games.
This is gotten a round , however, by taking a " rest day" between the two week preparatory training and the preceeding period called Olympic development which is funded by a spearate allocation. Aiba - I concur with Abie. We are all allowed two weeks of government funds to train together. Anything other than that is, as you say, " under the table." Q. What are the methods used for selecting Olympic teams in the United States? japan? Grossfeld - We change from Olympiad to Olympiad . This year we're running a series of qualifying meets to compete in the Olympic trials. We've already had one, the USGF Championships. The NCAA, NAIA, National AAU--most meets in which nationally qualified judges are used--serve as preliminary qualifying trials. The gymnast must score over 100 points in these meets in order to qualify for the Olympic trials, the first of which is to be held in May. Eventually, the field will be narrowed to 12 contestants who will compete in the finals. The composite score of the finals and the semifinals will determine the six competitors and the alternate for the 1972 Olympic Team. Tsurumi - This is basically how it's done in Japan as well. Q. How are Olympic team coaches chosen in japan? The United States? How have they been chosen in the pasO Coco - In deference to Abie 's position, I'd like to answer that question . The FIG, the International Gymnastic Federation has a majority of votes on the Olympic Committee, so it's usually been a political appointment from their own organization rather than looking at the coaches' qualifications. Abie, however, improved the status of the United States Gymnastic team in 1966 so much that it was decided to give him another chance. This is the first time, however, that the coaches got together and put in their bid for a coach with the best all-around qualifications. World championship team coaches are chosen by the USGF . The Olympic coach , again, is chosen through the gymnastic portion of the Olympic Committee, and the overseer--the Olympic Committee--has to approve their decision , which they normally do. Aiba - The coach is selected by the Japanese Gymnastic Federation Committee. Generally,
the coach is selected beca use of th e ir career. Fo r instance, Tsurumi, Endo, Ono are, o r we re, o n the coaching staff beca use they have been Olympic competitors, and ca n identi fy with the psychological pressures which the younger gymnasts enounter. Also, they a re a lways educated in the physica l educa ti on school to prepare them professio nally to adequate ly mee t the c hallenges o f training techniqu es, psychological preparedness being optimal , as well as sound knowledge of ph ys iol ogy a nd nutrition. Q. Are these considerations taken into account in selecting United States coaches? Grossfeld - No, they haven ' t bee n. Offhand , I remember one coach who was never a gy mnast, an d one other who never went to co llege, altho!Jgh he spent many yea rs as a coach . I feel that the national coach must have been a gymnast in order to have that one experience to fall back on. So many factors are involved in gymnastics that ca n only be experienced through having competed, and if you lack pe rsp ective it 's just one less dimension that you can draw from. Q. What are the United States' prospects for the 1972 Olympics? japan's prospects? Abie - We have 15-20gymnasts that have a good chance to make the team. It is unrealistic to hop e for too many me dals, however. Crosby has proven his ability to compete in floor exercise with the best 'gymnasts in the world. Last year in Latvia he tied Nakayama, twice world champion, for first place on two separate occasions. I can't think of another person that has as good a c hance of winning a medal as John , but there are a few with a c hance. Aiba - As long as the Japanese wish to compete in the Olympics we will be happy only with every gold medal offered . As gymnasts, they aim for this. But, it's like a flip of the coin--who knows until the Olympics? Coco - Fred Turoff has a good chance of making the team . He's done a fine job so far . He came in third at the World Championship trials. He 's injured, however, and will have to heal first. Ron Clemmer also has a good chance. I'd like to say a word a bout the women 's team . If they have a good training setup and if they can get a good coach, they will have a good chance to place among the top four countries in the world . Inte rnationally, they have gained a lot of recog nition--they came in 7th in the world championships . I think they can do it, ' providing they get a good training setup and coach . There again, there's political hassling going on--it hurts the gymn asts to a great extent. The right coach and they can do it--the wrong coach and they will not do it. Grossfeld - I hate to admit it but th e girls are ahead of th e boys. I intend to do something about this, but the girls have re ally co me a long way. Q_ln closing this discussion, would you care to make any predictions as to the outcome of the 1972 Olympics? Grossfeld - Japan, Russia , East Germany. After that it's a toss-up between many countries--that's where we stand . These are Poland, Czechoslovakia, Rumania and West Germany--especially beca use the games are to be held in West Germany . Tsurumi - I agree with Abie 's idea s. Japan , I hope , will not lose to Ru ss ia. NOTE: That evening Crosby went on to win the floor exercise event over Nakayama with a 9.65, and the girls team upset the Japanese girls team .