Maggie Haney, the New Jersey-based coach of Olympic and world champion gymnasts, is under investigation by USA Gymnastics for verbal and emotional abuse, according to USA Gymnastics emails obtained…www.ocregister.com
Unfortunately I don't think this problem is unique to gymnastics in the United States.I just read this article. Wow, with all these different allegations, it seems fairly clear that there are systemic issues in U.S. women's gymnastics, in terms of what is considered appropriate and allowable behavior by coaches.
I wonder how the gymnastics federation can and will address this issue.
The biggest challenge, no doubt, is that the whole culture of women's gymnastics has to change (I just see that danafan used the same words). What was going on at the training camps was basically just the continuation of the sort of widespread abuse that went on at the lower levels. It wasn't only due to the Karolyis either, but they "normalized" it, for sure. Now, good luck changing the culture from the top level through to the lowest level. They'll have at least to display an impeccable behavior at the elite level to start with, starting with camps and national team training, and then they'll have somehow to convince club coaches that the old way to do it is no longer acceptable and ban coaches if they have to.I just read this article. Wow, with all these different allegations, it seems fairly clear that there are systemic issues in U.S. women's gymnastics, in terms of what is considered appropriate and allowable behavior by coaches.
I wonder how the gymnastics federation can and will address this issue.
I agree with you, even though I have not experienced this first hand. To me there is absolutely no reason to call a gymnast names, shame them, or yell at them at all, except perhaps, as you mentioned, for safety reasons. If it's not something you'd say in a "normal" working environment, it has no place in the gym, either.Ballet was/is much the same with the screaming and body shaming. But there is a difference in shouting at the athlete/dancer that "you have to do it this way or you are going to break your neck/leg" and shouting "you are so fat and stupid that you can't move your ass" or "take off your cast and move your ass." The former is tough love training, which might not be popular anymore, but it is a fact of life in competitive environments; the latter is demeaning and bullying and dangerous. In my dance school, if your body type was so wrong that you couldn't perform the steps, your money was not accepted and you were given other suggestions (like "have you tried piano?".) With injuries, I think some coaches/teachers feel students are faking the injury, but when you have a cast on your leg, huh?
If I had a child interested in gymnastics, I know I wouldn't have a particular interest in seeing them reach the elite level, and if that was their desire, I would monitor their health and the coaching relationship very closely, not for the sake of interfering with the coaching, but to make sure the environment is healthy. And if I was prevented to do so by the coach or club, then just too bad, bye bye coach. It's not worth it.I thought Maggie Haney was one of the good ones. Where in the world would you send your kid now - Simone Biles' gym or Sarah Jantzi?
I’ve binge watched the entire series on YouTubeTV recently and I believe Sasha did numerous things that, although they were innocent for those involved, could be considered SafeSport violations today. He had gymnastics lessons with several gymnasts alone, for example. And then there was what happened with Payson......In a perfect world, all coaches would be like Sasha Beloff ( sorry, found my Make it or Break it dvd today)
Many reasons good and bad: a fear (real or not) that the coach will be pissed/pay less attention to the athlete if they miss, that there's stuff they can train (upper body strength or something), the parent is one of that crazy breed of sports parents that likes to ignore injuries as much as possible so their kid doesn't miss training time (more common than you'd think), the athlete herself doesn't want to miss training time and the parent caves, the athlete is learning stuff on the sidelines (more common for team sports where you go over strategy or choreography changes), the training center has PT on site to work with athletes on rehabbing injuries, they already paid for the time and can't be refunded so why not, etc etc
I kept going to practice while I was in a boot for a broken foot. You can still do conditioning exercises, some things on bars, flexibility. It was a long time ago so I don’t remember all the details but I had a lot of injuries in gymnastics and the only one where I ever stopped going to the gym completely was when I had a stress fracture in my back because it seemed like even the conditioning exercises would put too much strain on my back. But with every other injury, you went to the gym and you worked around it.
What she was doing was manipulation or retaliation. Ignoring someone counts as abuse to me in that context. Besides, if your parents were paying her to coach you and she wouldn't, wouldn't that be financial abuse, as well?But later coaches were less believing of various injuries...one time I recall running down the vault runway and collapsing because my knees gave way and my coach just rolled her eyes at me when I asked if I could move on to bars because I clearly couldn’t vault anymore. Given how much I hated bars, I felt like asking to go to bars should give away that I wasn’t faking it but she didn’t care. She basically ignored me for that practice and several more afterward. I wouldn’t call any of this behaviour abusive exactly but it wasn’t good either.
I started having a bit of hope on that front. Of course, some initiations had to make the news for that to happen, but I believe universities around here have started taking a closer look at what's going on. Of course I can't know for sure how durable and widespread any changes have been because it's not like a summary exists anywhere, but it's not exactly good publicity for a university when things like that are reported in sports teams or departments.I hope the current coaches are the last generation of the “old school” methods. If you’re older than 50, you probably remember when pursuing any sport meant being able to tolerate a culture of favoritism, bullying, and hazing. The rationale was that “I had to do it and came out ok, so you have to do it, too.”
Hazing, in particular, seemed to have gotten worse as each succeeding generation passed through the system. In the late 50s, my brother had to wash the team captain’s jock and do other mildly humiliating things to be accepted on the team. In the 80s, the captains were forcing new kids to do dangerous things like drink a pint of vodka or run the stairs nude on a very cold day. Now, two generations later, his same team was cited for allowing upperclassmen to beat freshmen so severely that some missed practice. No one said anything, not the kids or parents, and it was only stopped because the ER staff notified children’s services that two School X baseball players were treated for assault.
USA Gymnastics said their process for addressing reports of sexual misconduct is now "stronger and better defined," with changes like mandatory reporting and policies that set boundaries between staff and athletes.
But Denhollander said that isn't enough. "Their last two appointees were already under investigation in SafeSport for having abusive environments in their gym, and they didn't manage to catch that before they appointed them, or didn't think it was a problem before they put them in charge of athletes' safety," she said.
"So, if you have to be told to do a background check on your appointees three years into the worst sexual assault scandal in sports history, I don't think you've learned very much."
The continued failings have been the subject of internal and Congressional investigations and, now, according to the Journal, the Justice Department.
Citing a source "familiar with aspects of the investigation," the Journal said one focus of the investigation appears to be on "failures in the Olympic system, writ large, to respond to signs of widespread child abuse.”
"The U.S. Olympic Committee and its affiliated national governing bodies enabled Larry Nassar by turning a blind eye to criminal conduct and then trying to sweep it under the rug. Everyone who allowed abuse to continue must be held responsible for any and all violations of the law," Sens. Jerry Moran (R-Kan.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) said in a statement.