USA Gymnastics

Common sense, please, about the USOC

Common sense, please, about the USOC

Common-sense test here. If, as a publicity-seeking lawsuit filed in federal court in Denver alleges, the U.S. Olympic Committee had been engaging in “commercial sex trafficking,” and that was even in the slightest bit true, wouldn’t every single one of the USOC’s corporate partners have fled like rats on a sinking ship?

That lawsuit was filed May 4, a Friday.  

I have deliberately waited a full business week — five full days, Monday through Friday — to see whether even one corporate entity, super-sensitive to such matters in this #MeToo era, would take action. The USOC’s sponsors include some known for wholesome family-style branding campaigns; there’s also Nike, itself wrapped up in harassment allegations.

How many have said as much as boo?


On the USOC: more patience, less hyperventilating

On the USOC: more patience, less hyperventilating

A few days before the start of the 2018 Winter Games, the Dalai Lama, who runs a fascinating Twitter account, put this out there:

“Many people,” his holiness said to his 18.2 million followers, “think that patience is a sign of weakness. I think this is a mistake. It is anger that is a sign of weakness, whereas patience is a sign of strength.”

These words of wisdom carry particular resonance now amid what is — let’s be blunt here — the rush to judgment in some quarters directed at the U.S. Olympic Committee sparked, of course, by the horrific crimes committed by Larry Nassar.

All institutions can be better. For sure the USOC can be. 

Anger, though, is not helpful. Patience — and a regard for the facts — is, as ever, the sign of real strength. 

Who wants to blame the USOC? Exactly -- why?

Who wants to blame the USOC? Exactly -- why?

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea — The president of the International Olympic Committee, Thomas Bach, opened a news conference here Sunday by reading a prepared statement that declared the IOC’s policy-making executive board was “deeply shocked and saddened” by the “abuse scandal” rocking USA Gymnastics and Michigan State.

The board also, Bach said, expressed its “moral support for the victims and applauded the courage of the victims who gave testimony.”

The IOC, Bach further said, “took note of the ongoing independent investigation,” the U.S. Olympic Committee announcing Friday it had selected New York law firm Ropes & Gray LLP to conduct the inquiry, and “hopes that this will also give clarity to the responsibilities of the different parties.”

USA Gymnastics clearly has a lot to answer for.Michigan State as well.

The FBI, too, as the New York Times made plain in a blockbuster account published over the weekend, the agency taking a year to pursue the case — the paper identifying at least 40 girls and young women who say Larry Nassar molested them between July 2015, when the matter was first reported to the FBI, and September 2016, when the Indianapolis Star published its first accounts.

For all that, an issue for many, including on Capitol Hill: what about the USOC? 

Everyone, it seems, is looking for someone to blame. It’s entirely unclear, however, that — without more — it should be the USOC.




Every child's worst nightmare: the monster in the room

Every child's worst nightmare: the monster in the room

It breaks your heart to listen to the testimony in a Michigan courtroom where Larry Nassar’s victims have, finally, confronted him.

It makes you so angry.

How could this have happened? And for so long?

This is indisputably one of the worst moments in the recent history of the U.S. Olympic movement. It calls for serious and significant investigation and systemic reform.

To be clear about what happened, and in the most elemental terms: adults failed children. 

There was a monster in the room, every child’s worst nightmare. Who made the monster go away? No one. 

How can that possibly be?

Jon Horton and the quest for stone cold

Jon Horton looks at Paul Hamm and what he sees goes well beyond the men's gymnastics all-around gold medal that Hamm won at the 2004 Athens Summer Games. He sees a mental toughness that's best described simply: stone cold.

After four of the six rotations at those Games, the fourth producing what seemed like a disastrous fall in the vault, Hamm stood 12th in the all-around standings. After five he moved up to fourth. With his sixth, the high bar, he moved into first.

After that fourth rotation, it would have been easy to give up. No way. Not Paul Hamm.

The world gymnastics championships get underway Saturday in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. Paul Hamm is coming back to competitive gymnastics but -- not yet. It's Jon Horton's time now. He's the leader of this 2010 U.S. team.

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