The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

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.

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