Brennan: Malinin stirs tensions over perception of male figure skaters with his IG Live comment

Sylvia

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Thought this column should have its own thread in GSD:
USA Today article from Christine Brennan on Ilia's Instagram live comment with some good feedback from Brian Boitano:
Here's what Boitano said to Brennan:
In our phone conversation, Boitano defended both young men.
“I said the same kinds of things when I was their age — and I was gay. So if we had had Instagram Live back then, I mean, who knows what I would have said?”
Boitano said that because figure skating is a sport measured both athletically and artistically, with abundant attention paid to the music skaters perform to and the outfits they wear, there’s a natural inclination for male skaters, gay or straight, to defend the athletic side of their sport.
“Most men in our sport are defensive about how hard it is, because it is so hard athletically,” he said. “Just try to fling yourself at 15 miles an hour into the air to do a four-revolution jump while lifting three feet off the ice, traveling 10 feet and landing on a 1/8 inch blade with two edges — and do that on seven jumping passes. If someone tries to negate it in any way, tries to tear it down, tries to question you about it, male figure skaters will defend it.”
Boitano, who has devoted much of his career to mentoring and giving advice to younger skaters, has spent time with both Malinin and Chen.
“These comments are not a representation of who these guys are as people,” he said. “When you’re taking questions, you’re expecting people to ask about skating, your jumps, your scores. You’re probably not prepared for this other stuff and you don’t have your thoughts in order and then you can say the wrong thing. They’re focused on competing and you can’t always be on top of everything and how you should word it at all times.
“So,” he said, "we’ve got to give them a chance to explain themselves when they have time to think about it. This is much more complex in the sport of skating than just people getting angry about something that was said on social media, and we need to understand that and talk about it.”
 
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Trillian

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Boitano did a perfect job of acknowledging that it’s appropriate for these kids to apologize and do better, but also that they’re navigating a very challenging set of expectations and the world around them should do better for them. I’m really glad he’s in a position now that he feels comfortable sharing his perspective in this conversation, considering he didn’t feel that he could for so many years.
 

SkateFanBerlin

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Such a non story in this day and age. Boitano has the right perspective. All teens say stupid stuff about gayness. I think USFS ought to let the comment go and leave Ilia alone. (BTW I`m totally gay, myself)

They ought to be more worried about what they`ll do if the ISU proposes Russia be readmitted to competition.
 

Rukia

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I actually think USFS is doing this the right way (for once). They had Ilia do some "training" for whatever that is worth and put out a mild statement that it is happening. I wouldn't be surprised if they had a hand in this article as well. So they're covering all their bases without ever putting out any official statement to draw more attention to everything. This gives the view that they are handling it but also Ilia is taking personal responsibility. And probably most people will just ignore it from now on unless he says something again (exception of course for those people who were predisposed to dislike him anyway as evidenced by basically everything Nathan Chen has ever said).
 

Trillian

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Just because people say stupid things doesn't mean there isn't an underlying level of homophobia to those comments.

I agree, but it’s also important to recognize (the same way we do with something like racism) that people absorb these attitudes from the world around them, and a lot of the process of growing into a good person as an adult can involve unlearning things a person has never even stopped to think about before because they’ve been so immersed in this culture. Boitano pointed out that he might have said something similar at the same age, and that’s because he had also absorbed the homophobia from the world around him.

That said, Ilia’s choices moving forward will really be more of a reflection of his character. Maybe he’s never been asked to do any self-reflection in this area before, but now he is, and this is his opportunity to learn and do better.
 

tony

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I don't know the format of the Instagram Live that Ilia was participating in, but he also could have declined to answer the question.
:lol: People push 'go live', then they are live either by themselves or with others. People type things in the chat, they answer or address them if they want to. Nothing more complicated than that.

Anyways, as I wrote about in his fan thread-- I get it. He's in a sport that automatically gets "that's/you're gay" comments from his peers, and he's probably on the ultra-defensive about it which could have contributed to his comment. But at the same time, he's 18, he's been skating at the top level for long enough to know that PCS is most certainly not being handed out to Brown and Aymoz while all the poor heterosexual-identifying men are getting low scores, and the comment just made no sense.

I also hate to say it, but if this were a similar comment in gymnastics or probably a multitude of other sports that fans of skating on FSU followed, people would be almost surely be claiming that those comments were indeed homophobic with no turning back on said person who made the comments. But Ilia knows he did wrong, the USFS gave him some training, and hopefully it becomes a non-issue from now on.

Still... all those Russian men barreling through their programs with no choreography getting massive PCS. And skaters like Joubert, Van der Perren, Brezina back in the day doing nothing but three-turns and simple movements as 'choreo' getting huge scores? Nah, high PCS is not reserved for the gays and never has been.
 

Ananas Astra

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Still... all those Russian men barreling through their programs with no choreography getting massive PCS. And skaters like Joubert, Van der Perren, Brezina back in the day doing nothing but three-turns and simple movements as 'choreo' getting huge scores? Nah, high PCS is not reserved for the gays and never has been.
How about...Kolyada?
 

Sylvia

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FWIW, I happened to catch most of the infamous IG Live with Malinin and his 2 Swedish pals (Andreas Nordeback and Oliver Praetorius) and random questions were scrolling by fairly quickly (600+ people were on at one point, IIRC?) and there really was no time to "process and decide" which questions to answer or to ignore.
Was there any need for another thread of this again lol
IMO yes because an actual mainstream news article has been published and I didn't think the original discussion should have been in his FAN thread in the first place.
 

On My Own

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IMO yes because an actual mainstream news article has been published and I didn't think the original discussion should have been in his FAN thread in the first place.
It's just a rehash but whatever.

Even if it was in the fan thread, that's where it happened anyway, and people were free to create a thread back then if they wanted.
 

Karen-W

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Honestly, I think there are a fair number of people who are forgetting just how many stupid things they or their friends said at that age. Nobody is perfect, but, yes, let's hold it against someone for being stupid once, at that age. Boitano has the right of it... Who knows what he would have said at that age had IG Live been around 40 years ago.
 

tony

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Honestly, I think there are a fair number of people who are forgetting just how many stupid things they or their friends said at that age. Nobody is perfect, but, yes, let's hold it against someone for being stupid once, at that age. Boitano has the right of it... Who knows what he would have said at that age had IG Live been around 40 years ago.
He’s 18. I know I was annoying as hell through part of my teens. But.. I’m sure I’m opening a whole new heated discussion by repeating this, but for all the ‘but they are an adult!’ posts we get on FSU, why should it be any different now? If Boitano had said anything on record 40 years ago, he too would’ve likely been reprimanded.

And since not everyone reads the fan threads (unlike the newest FSU police above, I guess), I questioned there whether the women here would’ve acted in a similar ‘no big deal, he’s a kid’ manner if the comment was about women, or about a different race.

I think @skateboy said what I feel. I’m not offended, I just think that the comment was completely unnecessary and untrue anyways with the idea that gays are the ones benefiting from high scores. May it be an attempt to remind people that he’s straight in a sport now full of openly LGBTQ people? Yeah, probably, like I mentioned before. But he can still understand his ‘dig’ came completely out of place when any fan with the slightest bit of knowledge of IJS can see that he doesn’t exactly fill the criteria of deserving high PCS anyways. And the comment came out of place because of a built up concept of something or some group.
 

slicekw

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FWIW, I happened to catch most of the infamous IG Live with Malinin and his 2 Swedish pals (Andreas Nordeback and Oliver Praetorius) and random questions were scrolling by fairly quickly (600+ people were on at one point, IIRC?) and there really was no time to "process and decide" which questions to answer or to ignore.

IMO yes because an actual mainstream news article has been published and I didn't think the original discussion should have been in his FAN thread in the first place.
It's so hard for modern kids to grow up in the spotlight of a voracious and unrelenting 24-hour news cycle.

"mainstream news article" does not equal real journalism. CB strikes again, going for the easy stuff to make noise (and tarnish the sport, whether she meant to or not) when she could have let it lie. I don't see her writing positive things, like an article on the behind-the-scenes prep for Ice Theatre of New York this weekend. Le sigh.
 

Debbie S

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I don't see her writing positive things, like an article on the behind-the-scenes prep for Ice Theatre of New York this weekend. Le sigh.
I'm not a big fan of CB, but the job of reporters is not "writing positive things," it's writing about issues and events that have garnered attention, good or bad. I thought her article was well-balanced. She took the time to get a different perspective (Brian). It's not a hatchet job or pile-on.
 

Bird

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Since LGBT in figure skating made great strides since 2014, I’m confident it will continue to. Ilia and Nathan will be skating together with Jason and Paul, with choreography by Jeff Buttle- in just a couple weeks…so I hope the fences continue to get mended, nothing more hurtful is said, etc. Happiness for all.
 

Bird

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Was there any need for another thread of this again lol
Yes! 🙂 It’s a mainstream news article about figure skating that could potentially help unite the US public right before the Stars on Ice tour starts here in the US. And it will also stir up general interest in figure skating, which will help both Ilia and Jason.

Eta: in light of what MacMadame said about the click bait/unfair headline I retract that. I just thought Ilia came across fine in the apology, which Nathan also did after his, and I’m also a Nathan fan
 
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MacMadame

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I'm not a big fan of CB, but the job of reporters is not "writing positive things," it's writing about issues and events that have garnered attention, good or bad. I thought her article was well-balanced. She took the time to get a different perspective (Brian). It's not a hatchet job or pile-on.
The article was fine but this isn't breaking news. Yet I got a notification on my phone about it just a few hours ago. With a more click-bait-ish headline than the actual headline which made it seem like a it was a quote but it wasn't what Malinin actually said.

So :rolleyes: to the editors at USA Today for that.

I feel bad for Malinin at this point. Getting flack from figure skating fans is expected and deserved. Getting flack from the world because a major news outlet decided to do its best to make the incident go viral is not.
 

Bird

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The article was fine but this isn't breaking news. Yet I got a notification on my phone about it just a few hours ago. With a more click-bait-ish headline than the actual headline which made it seem like a it was a quote but it wasn't what Malinin actually said.

So :rolleyes: to the editors at USA Today for that.

I feel bad for Malinin at this point. Getting flack from figure skating fans is expected and deserved. Getting flack from the world because a major news outlet decided to do its best to make the incident go viral is not.
I hope he doesn’t get flack for it at this point though. He apologized and went through sensitivity training.
 

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