A. KP Duty
Blehhhh. Where do I start? Kerry Perry and other associated NGB heads and USOC and SafeSport leaders went in front of the House E&C Committee this week to do……nothing? Basically?
If you hate yourself, you can watch the entirety of the hearing here.
KP’s performance (no Oscars here…) was particularly irritating in that her opening statement was largely cribbed from her previous apology video—you didn’t view this hearing as important enough to take the time to construct new sentences?—and in her cynical and disingenuous “INSERT EMPATHY HERE” moments intended to portray herself as an emotionally connected figure while distracting from the fact that she was providing no information and avoiding questions entirely.
It was all “I wake up every morning and am sickened…” No. Don’t care. Answer the question. Were you asked about your morning routine, or were you asked about something relevant? Oh, it was something relevant? Then talk about that.
“I think about this every day…” Oh, did you want a standing ovation? I think about this every day too. Doesn’t make me a qualified CEO. Do better.
Someone gave KP the terrible advice that it was most important for her to seem empathetic and bleehhhhhhh (while she has been criticized for not showing that she cares, caring is shown through specific personal actions, not disconnected, empty words in front of Congress). Hers was the wrong approach. To regain our trust that she might actually do something useful, KP needed to cut the figure of an angry, urgent, specific leader—not a mushy, desultory, paper-pushing apologist.
When it came to future actions or progress, all we heard were the most basic, glossed-over, shallow promises. Like this “Athlete Task Force.” What even is that? Who’s on it? How were these people chosen? What are they empowered (AHHHHHHHH) to do? Has it happened yet? When is it happening? You can’t just put words together and count them as accomplishments; you have to explain what they are. Also, that task force sounds like nothing. If that’s the kind of thing you’re hanging your hat on, I’m not optimistic.
KP was also quite ready to claim credit for proactively closing the ranch because she cares so much. Which took a tweet from Simone and public outcry to force her into doing.
When it came to accounting for past actions of the organizations, it’s very true that KP cannot be blamed for the worst things that happened at USAG because she wasn’t even there yet, and she isn’t the best-suited person to answer questions about the handling of That Guy. (This is why we need Steve Penny under oath, and soon.) But, she was very eager to hide behind “I wasn’t there and can’t speak to that,” even though we all know she absolutely has the answers to these questions, just won’t express them in order to protect the organization from liability.
Because of that approach, she’s putting herself right into the USAG chain and linking herself to its previous leaders. If she’s unwilling to distance herself from Penny, Parilla, etc because avoiding legal trouble for the organization is the most important pursuit, then she has to be held accountable for their actions as well as her own since she is the current incarnation of those men.
It’s also clear that KP needs someone to plaster the definition of the word transparent on the wall.
“It is of the utmost importance for us to be transparent. Pay no attention to the barrel labeled SECRETS. No further questions.”
The entire panel also needs a lesson in the definition of independent. We heard a lot of references to the “independent” Ropes & Gray investigation (I assume everyone had a talking point distributed to them that they had to say “independent” every time they said Ropes & Gray), but Ropes & Gray is a law firm hired by the USOC to conduct its investigation. It’s not independent. It may uncover useful information—we don’t know yet—but it’s not independent of the USOC.
Also remember when the USOC finally started talking about abuse 85 months too late and assigned Suzanne Lyons as the “independent” board member who would lead the working group/task force/committee on abuse? And then she hired Ropes & Gray to do an “independent” investigation? Anyway, now Suzanne Lyons is the acting CEO of the USOC—because of all the independence. So, the organization she now leads will be independently investigated by the law firm she selected while in her role as an “independent” board member. And then she spent the hearing independently nodding along to all of Kerry Perry’s answers like a teammate. SO MUCH INDEPENDENCE.
All good here.
Ultimately, most of the time was taken up by an extended series of useless opening statements and mindless blathering, and the members of the committee didn’t have a deep enough understanding of the specific issue to press for answers when panel members evaded questions or glossed over important points (KP wasn’t even made to answer for misleading Congress about NDAs). So in the end, nothing was accomplished and little was learned. Which I think is on the official seal of the US House of Representatives.
B. Uh-oh Spaghetti-Os
More fun with lies!
Today, IndyStar reported that USAG’s lawyers worked with That Guy in 2015 to create cover stories for why he wasn’t attending events. Cover stories that weren’t “BECAUSE HE’S A PEDOPHILE.” Cover stories like “sickness” and “focusing on his private practice” that actively kept vital information about his abuse away from people it could have saved.
This is really bad. We have all been angry about USAG’s theoretical silence in that 2015-2016 period, when the organization knew about That Guy and yet people were still being abused in Michigan. USAG has defended this silence in a couple ways: saying “well, the FBI told us we couldn’t talk about it” and saying “so, yeah, we couldn’t say anything about it before proven because it would open us up to liability.” This story blows these excuses up because, even if USAG honestly and actually thought it couldn’t talk about this (and there are serious timeline and believability problems with that excuse anyway), no one told USAG to concoct active lies about what was happening. That’s a much bigger step than silence.
You weren’t just “not talking about it.” You were concealing it. You chose your team, and it was the bad guys team.
Also damning, USAG has lied about this matter as recently as this year, saying in its January statement about Maggie Nichols (the same one that claimed Fran was an investigator—a real gem of a statement) that “contrary to reported accusations, USA Gymnastics never attempted to hide Nassar’s misconduct.” Uh, so, kind of feels like you did…
C. Anyway gymnastics
The Canadian Championships get underway this weekend. Here’s your important schedule:
Thursday May 24
3:00 ET/12:00 PT – Women’s Junior Day 1
7:00 ET/4:00 PT – Women’s Senior Day 1
Saturday May 26
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – Men’s Senior AA
5:30 ET/2:30 PT – Women’s Junior AA & EF
Sunday May 27
1:40 ET/10:40 PT – Women’s Senior AA & EF
2:40 ET/11:40 PT – Men’s Senior Finals
The competition streams live here.
The Australian Championships will run concurrently, so here’s a time conversion schedule for those of us in North America.
Thursday May 24
11:30pm ET/8:30pm PT – Women’s Junior Day 1
Friday May 25
4:30am ET/1:30am PT – Women’s and Men’s Senior Day 1
Saturday May 26
11:30pm ET/8:30pm PT – Women’s and Men’s Senior Day 2
Sunday May 27
4:30am ET/1:30am PT – Women’s Junior Day 2
Unfortunately, both Sanne Wevers and Aliya Mustafina pulled out of the Osijek World Cup, so there’s less of a point to it now. Still, after the first day of qualification, Chuso leads the vault standings as expected, though Trykina of Russia is keeping things close. On bars, Mokosova and Makra lead 1-2, while it looks like Varinska had a mistake to drop herself to third with 12.467. Varinska should have the most difficultly here, so she’ll be the favorite in the final if she hits.
For the men, Lee Chih Kai leads qualification on PH ahead of Ude and Bertoncelj in what will be one of the higher-quality events in Osijek, featuring a number of worlds-level finalists. Seligman also just sneaked into the final in 8th place.
The South American Games gymnastics competition also gets underway in the next week with men’s Team/AA on the 27th, women’s Team/AA on the 28th, and event finals on the 29th and 30th. Flavia Saraiva and Jade Barbosa are slated to lead the Brazilian women’s team, which also features the return of Thais Fidelis.
Give a listen to this week’s GymCastic, the Rhonda-firing special. We have a lot of thoughts. As usual.