Olga Korbut

Oops, I did it again
America's Oldest Teenager

Olga Korbut
Smith
1974

Olga Korbut is actually an interesting person. Even so, she’s not the gymnast kids are looking for in the biography section. If you have space and it’s in good shape, there’s no real problem with keeping this one. Maybe keep one book about Olga Korbut and one about Nadia Comaneci. If you don’t have space or it’s falling apart, please upgrade to Shawn Johnson and Nastia Liukin and keep your eye on the Olympic hopefuls.

Holly

7 comments

  1. This should definitely be weeded, mostly because no one will ever read it. This summer, after finally getting around to watching The Laramie Project, I asked my house of teenagers (16, 17 and 18 year olds) if they knew who Matthew Shepard was. Nope. They’d never heard of him. I gave them the 5-minute synopsis of his life and death, and they expressed moderate interest. No one is teaching them about Matthew Shepard in school because he would be deemed historically insignificant or even, perhaps, still too controversial. Olga’s accomplishments were amazing at the time, but time marches on.

  2. Actually, the Korbut bio is probably out of date because her more recent accomplishments involve responding to and recovering from Chernobyl.

    Jude: My experience is that those kids who know of Matthew Shepard know of him from the Laramie Project, which is apparently done as a school play some places.

  3. The only reason I know about Matthew Shepard is because I watched The Matthew Shepard Story on Lifetime. As far as why it isn’t being taught in schools…I would venture that’s mostly because very little from that era is anyway (I don’t remember learning a thing about the ’90s, and I was in elementary school for half of the decade), not to mention how little is taught about anything involving homosexuality. Even coming from a fairly open-minded town, I didn’t learn anything of the sort until college, when we briefly covered gay rights activists.

    I’m not entirely certain how relevant that is to this post, but that’s what I think about that.

  4. Is it my imagination, or can I see that girl’s ribs through her suit?

    This book not withstanding, I think it’s important to have at least one book each in the gymnastics and ballet sections for youth that contains modern medical information about the dangers of staying underweight during puberty and early adolescence.

    I think most coaches know better than to push this nowadays, but the pressure to conform to a body image is still there and girls get a lot of misinformation about diet pills and ultra-low-calorie diets from other kids their age. I doubt the old books dealt with the subject much.

  5. The problem is that it is still controversial…I’m not even sure they get all the facts straight in the Shepard stuff…there are many who say he wasn’t actually targeted for being gay. The other problem is that it’s got to be handled right so that no one feels offended…neither side should be harrassed for their beliefs, and too often, those who feel it’s a sin end up being harrassed as well. There should be a way to teach and prevent bullying, harrassment and possible suicide, which is wrong all the way, without suppressing or belittling other views.

    As for the topic of the post, I’m not sure either that younger readers would know who she was…they’re definately going to look for the more current stars.

  6. My point of view here would be that of a gymnastics mom, and I’d suggest that patrons would be better served by collection with a group biography of historically famous gymnasts as well as recent individual titles that cover currently famous gymnasts (like Johnson and Liukin mentioned above). The sport has changed so much in the past several decades, and a 1974 book – even a biography of an athlete – is probably going to be more irrelevant than interesting.

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