When plate tectonics formed the Andes 200 million years ago, nobody thought the subsequent collision of two forces could ever result in anything more awesome. Well, back then they didn't know about gymnastics. The art, the sport: poise and power.
It's unpleasant to imagine, but there once was a time without quality entertainment at your fingertips. Back in BC (Before Cracked), people like the Minoans had to entertain themselves somehow, and after much brain-scouring all around, they found a way. One especially visionary young lad conceived an idea so simple, so beautiful, so painfully obvious it was hard to believe nobody had thought of it before.
That idea was bull-vaulting.
Eventually, some Greek chaps got word of the hullaballoo and decided to give it a go. With rules of their own. Naked. That's right; the word "gymnastics" actually derives from the word gymnos-- "nude" in Greek. While modesty dictated women be banned from gymnasiums, one can imagine this dark time gave momentum to the cross-dressing movement, enabling more widespread admiration of those young Adonises, or as local parlance would have it, scoring a peep at them MacDaddies.
In any case, it wasn't until the 20th century that women started formally competing.
These birds look like happy campers.
At some point in time between the formidable BCs and the present, the advent of common sense brought about significant improvements to gymnastic equipment. In addition to doing away with the bull in favor of a less--ah, sentient-- vaulting apparatus, innovations included the addition of springs to gymnastic floors and the invention of the trampoline in 1930.
Fly like a... marsupial.
By the end of it all, gymnastics had evolved from a source of entertainment to a form of military training and back again. Today, the sport is widely misrepresented in the media, much to the delight of starry-eyed tweens and the nauseation of real gymnasts everywhere.
A cesspool of inaccuracies.
Typically, women compete in five events: Floor, Vault, Uneven Bars, Balance Beam, and Rhythmic Gymnastics. Men compete in six: Floor, Vault, Parallel Bars, Pommel Horse, Still Rings, and High Bar.
While some of these names could do with a little pizzazz, each exercise represents a grueling trial in flexibility, strength, and masochism. As I imagine Missy Peregrym would say, gymnastics is not all about baby-faced Asians in sparkly bodysuits.
Missy will eat you for breakfast.
Since her abs look like they've been hewn from obsidian, I'm taking her word for it, and assuming her a qualified authority on the intricacies of the sport. I hereby defer you to a gem of athletics if I ever saw one, complete with a skill development montage and an Andy Warholesque sequence that will leave you wondering if you did one too many skin-the-cats:
If you have the pain threshold of Mike Tyson, spend half your life in spandex, and can contort your body in ways that defy biology, you can probably call yourself a gymnast. That, or Lady Gaga.