Question of the Day: Why Are Female Gymnasts Allowed To Stop A Vault But Not Male Gymnasts?

Last night I was watching the women compete in the vault exercise and watched as one gymnast stopped her run and returned for a second try. I was surprised to hear that females are allowed to stop in their run, but males are not. Why?

The Olympic rules state that a female gymnast can stop or break a run before touching the springboard without a deduction as long as they return to the end of the runway within thirty seconds. However, a male gymnast will receive a score of 0 if they do not vault once they start running.

I cannot see any justification for the differentiation (and more favorable rule for females). I am not rushing to file a discrimination lawsuit, but does anyone have a reason other than tradition or arbitrary treatment?

32 thoughts on “Question of the Day: Why Are Female Gymnasts Allowed To Stop A Vault But Not Male Gymnasts?”

  1. Like the other poster said, could be due to the vault used to be sideways for women. It was narrow space they had to get their hands on. The men had a longer length to work with, miss the front, they have back the vault to place their hands on.

    It also didnt help that the serious injuries involving vault happened to female gymnasts(correct me if I’m wrong)

  2. Idealist, contrary to the common wisdom, you CAN teach an old dog new tricks. Just don’t try to teach him any CAT TRICKS. :mrgreen:

  3. Women are treated differently.

    School Forces Pregnancy Tests

    By Tiseme Zegeye, ACLU

    07 August 12

    In a Louisiana public school, female students who are suspected of being pregnant are told that they must take a pregnancy test. Under school policy, those who are pregnant or refuse to take the test are kicked out and forced to undergo home schooling.

    Welcome to Delhi Charter School, in Delhi, Louisiana, a school of 600 students that does not believe its female students have a right to education free from discrimination. According to its Student Pregnancy Policy, the school has a right to not only force testing upon girls, but to send them to a physician of the school administration’s choice. A positive test result, or failure to take the test at all, means administrators can forbid a girl from taking classes and force her to pursue a course of home study if she wishes to continue her education with the school.

    This is in blatant violation of federal law and the U.S. Constitution.

    Today, the ACLU of Louisiana and the ACLU Women’s Rights Project asked Delhi Charter School to immediately suspend this discriminatory and illegal policy.

    The policy’s complete disregard for Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972, the federal law that prohibits sex discrimination in federally funded education programs and activities, is astonishing. Title IX and its regulations explicitly mandate that schools cannot exclude any student from an education program or activity, “including any class or extracurricular activity, on the basis of such student’s pregnancy, childbirth, false pregnancy, termination of pregnancy or recovery therefrom.”

    Besides violating Title IX, the policy is also in violation of the Constitution’s due process right to procreate, and equal protection: it treats female students differently from male students and relies on archaic stereotypes linked to sex and pregnancy.

    Approximately 70 percent of teen girls who give birth leave school, due in part to illegal discrimination. Schools should be supporting pregnant and parenting teens that face numerous barriers to completing their education, not illegally excluding them from school. The ACLU’s Women’s Rights Project protects the rights of pregnant and parenting teens through advocacy, education, and litigation, working to combat the push-out of pregnant and parenting teens from school.

  4. (Idealist I just quoted you so my comment would have context, it was meant somewhat jokingly – but too somewhat I guess ((*_*)))

  5. Darren Smith, thank you for the added information. I think Idealist first brought up the issue of injuries/lack of upper body strength and I concured. The table was a new item for me, I was confused when I first saw it. I wondered what happened to the horse! The Internets explains all to me though, if I search enough. LOL, that should tell you how often I watch the Olympics; by accident or not at all.

  6. LottaKatz seemed to have the best answer. I might add that if the rule allowing women to Balk their run might also be a left over from when the horse was turned sideways for women. I would speculate that having less of an escape route due to the wider target would make women more vulnerable to injury than men in this case because the men’s configuration is narrower and they could more easily redirect to the side if they had miscalculated their run. Again, just speculation

  7. Pete, 6 hours still, ie yes we do.

    Leejcarrol my comment was a tangent meant to emphasize that in spite of our urgings to achieve equality of opportunity, nature did NOT make men and women equal.
    It was NOT an apology for the rule difference nor a speculation on that.

    Lotta, thanks for the background. good facts as needed.

    Thanks all.

  8. I agree with Frankly: It does not matter, since men and women do not compete together. Men compete with men, and have the same rule. That is what matters.

    Woosty, if the rules of a sport are dangerous, then they should be changed, but that is an unrelated topic.

    If I am mistaken, and there is a mixed athletics competition, please do correct me and disregard my argument.

  9. To parrot a common inet meme: bettykath and Dredd win the internets today 🙂

    That being said, the table was changed from a horse to a table due to the threat of serious injuries:

    “Vaulting Table

    Prior to 2001, the vault (also known as the “horse”) was a cylindrical shaped apparatus that was placed widthwise for women and lengthwise for men. It looked similar to the pommel horse without pommels. However, the narrow width of the apparatus made it difficult for gymnasts, both men and women, to get a firm hand placement on the vault and this presented a safety issue. Throughout the 1990’s the vault was blamed for many serious accidents including the paralysis of the Chinese gymnast, Sang Lan in the 1998 Goodwill games. In the 2000 Olympics, the horse was positioned too low and many gymnasts rammed into the vault or had difficulty completing their tricks.

    After the 2000 Olympics fiasco, the International Federation of Gymnastics (FIG) re-examined the safety of the apparatus and decided to switch to an alternate piece of equipment: the vaulting table. Today, the table serves as the apparatus for both men and women.”

    I’m guessing that the run-up rule has to do with the difference in center of gravity between men and women and the possibility of injuries since the vault relies on momentum and upper body strength as posters upthread speculated/touched upon. I’m voting with them.

  10. Idealist said “Besides we know that Nature is cruel to women.
    Once she has said yes, she stands the consequences.
    Men just walk. …”
    so here we get to even it out, The man stops he gets penalized, the woman says yes, then stops “No. gotta start again” and its okay.

  11. “speleologist”

    what a nifty word, that I had never heard before! well, it is all learning isn’t it….

    1, August 6, 2012 at 6:35 pm
    I think the more important question would be “who cares?” every sport has its stupid rules & this is just one more. Why do men perform on the parallel bars & rings while women perform on the uneven bars and beam? Its something to do I suppose.’

    ….well I care. I hink the sports are different because our bodies are different. I don’t know too many women who could crunch an iron cross (or look good doing so….) and there are very few men who could dance on the balance beam the way women can (or would ever want to given those crotchsmackin slips that so often happen…..).

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