Ed. Note: If you don't like the word b*tch, you might find certain parts of this article objectionable. You have been warned.
I was very surprised when I first heard about the SEC Storied: Sarah and Suzanne documentary film that ESPNU first aired on April 30. First, I was surprised that I only found out about it by checking my DirecTV guide and not through the official UGA twitter accounts that I follow. Second, I was pleasantly surprised that the ESPN/SEC Network team would actually do a "SEC 30 for 30" film about the rivalry between the Gym Dogs and the Gym Tide.
I was excited to watch the show when it aired, but I must admit to being somewhat disappointed after it was over. It was substantially lacking actual content, preferring instead to focus on IMPORTANT TOPICS like the fact that women wore strange fashions in the 1980's and had wonky hair.
Basically, I can summarize the entire hour-long show thusly:
- Sarah Patterson is a sweet little girl who once got her head dismissively patted by Bear Bryant.
- Suzanne Yoculan is a bitch who wears cocktail dresses and stiletto heels. And more than once she cheated and got off scot-free. (Oh, and she won a bunch of national titles or something. ROLL DAWG TIDE)
- Georgia and Alabama gymnastics fans are just as bad as Philadelphia Eagles fans when it comes to cheering and heckling players who fall and/or get injured.
- Georgia's state laws vis a vis indoor fireworks at athletic events are somewhat more lax than Alabama's.
That's it. That's the story. Somewhere buried in there is some backstory about how the programs started at the Women's PE Building at UGA and its equivalent in Tuscaloosa, but it's lost in the WHAARGAARBL of cliches that seem to keep popping out every couple of minutes.
The thing that really tweaks me is how short on actual detail the documentary is. I mean, they talk about how moving meets to the Coliseum was an actual step up for the UGA program, but they don't talk about how crappy the Coliseum was in those days (for example: no air-conditioning, so it smelled like a rodeo venue all spring, which it was), so it was actually a step up to be in a crappy venue. Also, there is virtually zero actual gymnastics content in the entire thing. I think they actually mention scores and routines about twice. There was no mention of Karin Lichey's perfect 40 (which is still the only perfect all-around score ever in collegiate gymnastics), even though Karin herself was interviewed about Suzanne's ZOMG STILETTO HEELS. Also, even though they painted Coach Yoculan as the catty, cocky, cheating jerk, they didn't even mention the time she was actually sanctioned for NCAA-style cheating by letting her team fly on her boyfriend's jet to meet the President of the United States. I mean, you know... that's kind of a thing that would play well in the TV narrative, wouldn't it?
And lovely, angelic Sarah Patterson. Oh, my, yes. (Check out the quote in the final paragraph.) How classy. (Do a search in that article for "Tiffany Tolnay.") How typically southern (though she's from New York). How just. Plain. Wrong. The ESPN narrative team put in some overtime on this one.
It's not all bad, though. I have to step back and at least applaud the ESPN/SEC Network for giving some attention to women's gymnastics. It's one of the non-revenue sports in which the SEC has been dominant for decades, and it should be a point of pride for the conference. This documentary could have been so much more, though, than a soap opera about the sweet girl and the bitch who hate each other (lol kinda).
Finally, I also want to say that I don't really mind our coach being portrayed as the bitch, because she can kind of come across that way. The bottom line, though, is that she's the most successful women's gymnastics coach in NCAA history. When you win like that, you can be as cocky as you want to be, dude. Heck, some football coaches make a pretty good living off being a bitch while only winning 1 national championship in a 30-year career. (Looks eastward.)
So, my grade for SEC Storied: Sarah and Suzanne is a solid B. Could've been better, but I also appreciate any coverage of the sport at all. It's definitely worth watching/DVR'ing next time it airs.