Why Kathy Johnson Clarke’s commentary stands out, and why she will be so missed — Other gym news

The IX: Gymnastics Saturday with Lela Moore, March 16, 2024

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A lot of us tuning into NCAA meets this season have wondered why Kathy Johnson Clarke has not been on the mic much.

Johnson Clarke appeared to announce her retirement from commentary this week in a thread on X that prompted more questions than answers.

In particular, it was her statement: “I am retiring because I am being retired as irrelevant, a relic from the past.” that set the gymternet on fire. Who told KJC (as she is commonly known among fans) that she was “irrelevant?,” we asked. Few people are able to provide such entirely relevant commentary on NCAA gym.

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It’s no secret that KJC has been open about her frustrations with NCAA scoring. But it has always seemed to come from a place of genuine love for the sport and for its athletes rather than anger at the judges. More than most of her fellow former gymnasts-turned-commentators, she has always seemed attuned to the fact that this is a sport performed by humans and judged by other humans. It is a sport somewhat uniquely left open to human error. 

And her concerns about scoring were less about fairness than about the more technical observation that perfect routines were not differentiated enough from great ones, which were not differentiated enough from good ones. Where a lot of us cry leotard bias or name bias, KJC would patiently point out how one athlete’s toes were pointed more than another’s. 

It’s a point of view that will be sorely missed in commentary going forward, and we can only hope other broadcasters assume it once KJC is off the air. 

Greg Marsden blessed us with this compilation of KJC clips, and that is how I shall sign off this week.

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Other gym news

The Balance Beam Situation brings you the Week 10 rankings and NQS standings, the Week 11 schedule with streaming links, and, of course, the GIFs

College Gym News has the questions about Week 10, the preview of Week 11 along with Bubble Watch, the review of Week 10, and, of course, the leotards (featuring yours truly this week). There’s also a great feature on LSU’s Sierra Ballard and another feature on Illinois’ 6′ athlete Emma White

The Gymternet brings us the results from the Baku World Cup, as well as from English Championships.

The six finalists for the AAI award were announced: Luisa Blanco, Haleigh Bryant, Audrey Davis, Maile O’Keefe, Gabby Wilson, and Raena Worley.

Here is the schedule for DTB Pokal this weekend, along with streaming links and live scoring.

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Magic Johnson wished Simone Biles a happy birthday on Thursday. 

Anna Li will judge vault at U.S. Olympic Trials despite open SafeSport allegations against her, reports Scott Reid at the Orange County Register

Elisabeth Seitz, six months post-Achilles tear, is jumping again.

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Five at The IX: Paige Anastasi’s Vlog

Paige Anastasi’s YouTube vlogs of her freshman year at UCLA are compulsively watchable. I’m sure I’m not alone in loving them — she has 22,800 subscribers — but it really is a fun insight into the daily life of a college gymnast. (I feel particularly drawn to her love of the McDonald’s fountain Diet Coke. There is truly nothing like it.) Everything from exams to early practices to the excitement of meet day is chronicled and Anastasi is a fun narrator. Here’s her most recent one:

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Mondays: Soccer
By: Annie Peterson, @AnnieMPeterson, AP Women’s Soccer
Tuesdays: Tennis
By: Joey Dillon, @JoeyDillon, Freelance Tennis Writer
Wednesdays: Basketball
By: Howard Megdal, @HowardMegdal, The Next
Thursdays: Golf
By: Addie Parker, @addie_parker, The IX
Fridays: Hockey
By: @TheIceGarden, The Ice Garden
Saturdays: Gymnastics
By: Lela Moore, @runlelarun, Freelance Writer

Written by Lela Moore