Things Are Happening – December 7, 2018


The big trash-people news of the week was the revelation that USAG has decided to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy. “I definitely understand everything that entails,” said me, immediately.

To make sure you believe exactly what USAG wants you to believe, the organization simultaneously issued a press release, a letter from Golfy Brand-Management, and an FAQ about bankruptcy. (Hi, you can’t deliver a Frequently Asked Questions page about something at the very same time you announce it—there has been no time for those questions to be asked frequently yet!)

All of these serve to tell us how awesome bankruptcy is, and how fab it’s going to be for everyone, how all the cool kids are doing it, and how you should definitely get yourself one, or a few to give out as gifts during the holiday season. It’s not a bankruptcy, you guys, it’s a bankrup-portunity.

And they’re doing it mostly because they care so much about the survivors. It’s all for them.

Oh, but, also, there are some un-mentioned, actually real USAG reasons why this would happen right now, reasons that have nothing to do with just loving the survivors so much. Keeping in mind, once again, that I’m absolutely an expert on bankruptcy and the law and business and financials. Those are all my best subjects. (Why can’t gymnastics news ever intersect with, like, knowing an unnecessarily large amount about the reign of Hadrian? Then I would be flying.)

Here are some things USAG also gets from filing Chapter 11:

-Halting the discovery and deposition process in lawsuits against USAG. Survivors have been hoping to use the discovery process to get to some manner of truth about who knew what, who emailed whom about covering up for which monsters, who took which documents to Indiana, and how many people are bad (it’s a lot) since the ~independent investigations have so far yielded a “we’re not actually independent” amount of findings that will be announced at never o’clock.

For instance, the information about Amy White, Gary Warren, the documents, and delivering them to Steve Penny—information that kinda sorta contradicts Steve Penny’s story (gasp and shock!)—came from Rhonda’s deposition in the discovery process of Aly Raisman’s lawsuit. That’s the kind of thing that would be halted by a Chapter 11 filing.

-Halting the USOC’s action in decertification. Because apparently NGB status counts as an asset, and Chapter 11 prevents USAG from losing its assets.

I like how USAG brags about this as a positive development from the bankruptcy filing: “By staying all pending actions against USA Gymnastics, the Chapter 11 filing also allows USA Gymnastics to work with the United States Olympic Committee to determine the best path forward for the sport of gymnastics.” Um, yeah, we don’t want that. That’s bad. This is a bad story.

-Moving resolution of financial claims against USAG to bankruptcy court, which will set a bar date to file claims for any $$$$$ you want to get. After which, you’re out of luck.

Or, as USAG put it, “We believe that the Bankruptcy Court is the best forum in which to implement appropriate procedures to equitably resolve claims and allocate the insurance proceeds among claimants, allowing resolution more quickly than litigation filed in courts around the country.”

More fun news: In this filing, we learned that USAG’s current biggest creditor is none other than Steven Derpswood Penny, who is still owed $340,000 in severance.

B. Actual gymnastics

Last weekend, some of our favorite European all-arounders traveled to Spain to compete in the Joaquin Blume memorial, a competition dominated by Diana Varinska on the strength of her 14.700 on bars. Varinska had gone through a rough patch on bars for a few months this year, but this was exceptional. At least for this meet, she has taken out the Hindorff between the Stalder Shap and the Pak, the combination that caused her trouble at worlds.

Dalaloyan is back at it, winning the AA on the men’s side by a bit over Kazuma Kaya and Nestor Abad.

This weekend, your main elite event is the Toyota International in Japan. It’s quite a solid field, the men’s side including Nagornyy, Bevan, Yulo, Kenzo and the other major non-Kohei Japanese figures. On the women’s side, we’re getting Chuso, Akhaimova, Spiridonova, all the major non-Mai Japanese figures, and the triumphant return of Gabby Jupp, who hasn’t competed in a casual millennium.

The great traveling Olivia Cimpian has had her second official nationality change approved by the FIG (going back to Romania after switching to Hungary last year), but she will not be able to compete for Romania for 1 year, which means she wouldn’t be eligible to make the Romanian team at the all-important 2019 worlds.

BTW, Laurie Hernandez has started doing gymnastics again.

And in end-of-year retirement news: Louise Vanhille and Enus Mariani.

C. FIG Congress

At its annual congress, the FIG approved a “we’ve decided to recognize that sexual abuse exists” foundation—and we’ll have to wait and see whether that’s actually anything or just a press release and a phone number that goes directly to Janet’s void—along with continuing its mission to take Parkour, even though Parkour is like…

D. NCAA  preseason

Your watching schedule for the next few days:

Friday, December 7
9:00 ET/6:00 PT – Utah’s Red Rocks Preview – Pac-12 Network

Sunday, December 9
5:00 ET/2:00 PT – UCLA’s Meet the Bruins – Pac-12 Network

Monday, December 10
7:30 ET/4:30 PT – LSU’s Gymnastics 101 – SEC+

In “you had to be there” events, Oklahoma will have an intrasquad today (Friday) at 6:30 local time, and Georgia will have a First Look tomorrow (Saturday) at 4:00pm local time.

E. GymCastic

This week, we discuss all the USAG disaster news (except for bankruptcy because that hadn’t happened yet), recap Cottbus and the Olympic qualification rigamarole, talk to Scott Bregman about his Olympic Channel interviews with Simone Biles and John Orozco, and enjoy the triumphant return of Uncle Tim with a Cirque review.

15 thoughts on “Things Are Happening – December 7, 2018”

  1. Does anyone know how to stream Pac-12 if it is not part of your tv package? I want to watch the Utah preview! The last 2 years I used and Does anyone know the new xrxs link? Thanks!

    1. Ooh, do you have any similar links for SEC? I can always find Pac 12, but SEC is really hard to get internationally.

  2. Yeah, it’s depressing that to be a gymnastics fan in this country now means to be an expert on unsafe cultures ripe for abuse, grooming behaviour, bankruptcy, and so on. I mean, it’s important to be educated, of course, but the horrible magnitude of the problems overshadows everything else in the sport for me.

  3. Just a note that the Congress is held once in two years, which should make it even more important, yet the silence is deafening as far as the FIG’s own news are concerned. We have learned that the proposal not to elect the Technical Committee members by the Congress but to nominate them instead by the EC did not go through, but no details.
    Also, no news about the Statutes changes proposals that were directed to making the work of Presidential Commission more transparent. So that the President could not so lightly violate the Statutes and make the Congress to vote in a certain way (like it happened with Parkour), if they do not want to make the President to lose his face.

  4. I do communications for my company and it’s completely okay to release FAQ when you put out new information, before people actually ask questions. It shows good customer awareness to anticipate their needs. However, they missed a couple of questions, such as:

    Q: Are you and the USOC working together on this plan to shield yourselves from liability?
    A: Yes. They announced decertification, we were in on it. We planned that the response to decertification should be bankruptcy to protect both of us from liability.

    Q: How much do you care about survivors?
    A: We care about them tremendously. So much, in fact, that we want to protect them from the trauma of filing lawsuits by making sure they can’t go forward.

    Q: How scared of Aly Raisman are you?
    A: We’ve never been more scared of anyone. Practically, we know that all of us should step down so she can be in charge, but we’re too arrogant to do it. She is the ONLY person who can save gymnastics in this country and we’re trying to delay the inevitable.

    Q: Are Sarah Hirshland and Kathryn Carlson best friends?
    A: Yes

    1. Speaking of Aly, aren’t her parents lawyers (or is just her mom)? Again Aly is not qualified to be in charge of USAG – I do wonder if she’s back studying to get her college degree and eventually go to law school… though I believe initially she was just doing general studies or something to do with fashion (though Elle Woods became a great lawyer with a fashion merchandising major, so… ).

      1. What are they then? Obviously they both have really good jobs based on the mansion they live in.

        Maybe Aly’s mom went to law schools but didn’t take the bar and doesn’t practice, which is a possibility. Pretty sure I heard somewhere that she was referred to as a lawyer – not sure where though, so it may have been a gymnastics commentator, many of whom have been known to get a lot of things wrong.

    2. Lol with you all the way except for putting Raisman in charge. She’s great, she’s doing a great job, but there’s an immense difference between being an effective activist and being able to run USAG. I think it’s pretty ludicrous to say that an as-of-now-basically-uneducated former gymnast is the “ONLY” person who can save gymnastics in the USA and it really undermines your other, super valid points.

      That said I would be in favor of either Lynn or Aly having a seat on the board of directors of whatever organization rises from the ashes.

      1. I’m the one who wrote the FAQ with you and I actually agree with you about Aly.
        The reason I think she’s the only person who can save gymnastics in this country isn’t because she’s qualified to be a CEO. I just honestly think that she feels (rightly) so devastated and so betrayed by USAG that she will tear down anyone else in the press who is put in charge and succeed in doing so. She won’t be able to attack the organization if she has a significant leadership role in it. (I know that sounds like a bit of a crazy theory, but I actually was chatting about it with a C-level executive who also thought it was a good idea.)
        I also think that seeing her in charge will be one of the only things that convinces the public things are changing.
        And I don’t mean to take away from any of the MANY wonderful people in gymnastics who already are doing things to save the sport, and the people in the sport who have made mistakes who are completely serious about change now. I’m talking about what I think would work from a PR standpoint.

  5. @Anonymous
    Ok I see what you mean! (I’m sorry for declaring your opinion ludicrous on the internet. That was rude.)

    I definitely think Aly has to be (meaningfully, I hope) coopted by whoever is in power. Maybe figurehead CEO is the way to go (I still vote board seat, but I’m definitely not a business strategist).

    I don’t mean to say that her current position of critique is inherently bad because it isn’t providing a productive solution – I don’t think she or any other victims ‘owe’ it to us to solve a problem especially from the outside. But I agree that Aly is so vehement in her criticism that only a perfect new organization could meet her standards – and it’s just not realistic to expect a transition that doesn’t involve some messiness. If she’s actively involved in developing/fixing whatever USAG becomes next, then I think things will move forward more smoothly and be more successful (and less likely to repeat the mistakes of the past).

    1. OP here again. I didn’t think you were rude at all! I said something pretty controversial & I’m glad you told me what you thought.

  6. @anaonymous and viv — I just want to chime in to say (genuinely and not-sarcastically) that it is so nice to see people talking frankly and passionately and yet totally respectfully to each other… ON THE INTERNET!! I wish the rest of the internet could come and learn from your example. So yeah, thanks for putting a little positive back into the world 🙂

Comments are closed.