Things Are Happening – May 3, 2019


Well, hm. Let’s just get this over with. This week, USAG continued USAGing all over the bathroom walls with its attempted hiring of Edward Nyman as its first full-time director of sports medicine and science. Nyman has a PhD in biomechanics, was an assistant coach on the Bowling Green team for a hot second in the 2012 season, and has spent time as coach (and co-owner) at New Heights in Ohio with his wife.

So, first of all, mark 2019 down as the year that USA Gymnastics became aware that sports medicine exists, which is very rad and excellent and prompt. The previous approach was just a napkin scrawled with, “Martha says carrots give you the fats.”

Anyway, the press release announcing this AMAZING HIRE was almost immediately destroyed, and a day later he was gone. Another check plus for the winners!

There’s a whole sub-story here with Simone—among others—tweeting displeasure at the pick, but I’m not going to get into those weeds too much because that’s all a red herring that didn’t have anything to do with his one-day tenure. The idea that Simone’s tweeting is what got rid of Nyman fit into a comfortable narrative of “you people object to every hiring no matter what and won’t let USAG move on because you just want it to burn,” but it turns out USAG is continuing to do a pretty good job of burning itself without anyone else’s help since this debacle was solely down to the expected amount of USAG incompetence.

Just after hiring Dr. Nyman and putting out a press release with glowing quotes from Li Li about his amazingness, USAG realized that JUST KIDDING. Turns out, he has a disqualifying conflict of interest for the position. A.k.a. they had an “oh shit, it’s going to look bad for us if people find out about whatever this is, better axe him now” moment. I guess that’s an improvement over “Just lie, they’ll never know.” …….. I guess?

USAG hasn’t released what this conflict of interest is, but the fact that they didn’t—you know—uncover this conflict of interest during the hiring process speaks to a very familiar absence of trying or, if we’re being as charitable as possible, absence of competent communication. Are you a real organization? Because you’ve never acted like it once.

It’s also worth asking what kind of conflict of interest a director of sports medicine would even have, and what kind of conflict of interest it would have to be for USAG not to know about it during the hiring process. Then again, USAG has never exactly shown the ability to reach the third result on a Google search in its employee research, so…

The NEW USA Gymnastics: It’s the same.

Hasn’t been a great month (week) (day) for Li Li.

Also not having a great day, Terin Humphrey. What happened there…I barely even have the energy but here goes.

Terin reposted some awful meme about how great it is when coaches scream into their athletes’ face holes, and deriding the idea that this kind of behavior can constitute abuse, and it was UGH SIGH. Good athlete repping. Very much representative.

The cool thing about Kathy Johnson Clarke is that she responded to this perfectly with her patented combination of thoughtfulness and empathy, so that the rest of us don’t have to try to do it. That. Exactly that. Every word.

Rather than just leave it there like an adult, however, Terin went on to post an MLT-style treatise about how…John Manly was mean to her? I guess? So weird that the lawyer for abused athletes suing USA Gymnastics would pick up on a USAG athlete representative making light of abusive coaching. I know you’re all shocked. So so shocked.

Of course, if she’s receiving actual death threats, that’s very bad. She shouldn’t be receiving death threats. And coaches shouldn’t do dehumanizing screaming at athletes. But MY GOD. Criticism is not cyberbullying. Saying you should be fired is not cyberbullying. Calling you a bozo is not cyberbullying. The first amendment does not, in fact, read “you can say whatever stupid shit you want and no one else can say anything about it.” Breaking news, I know.

The irony of Terin Humphrey vicariously applauding crazy coaches screaming horrible things at athletes and then turning right around and saying she’s being bullied because John Manly did a tweet about her (and by his standards, a fairly reasonable tweet) is so crisp.

B. National team camp

So yeah, everything’s fine at USAG. Fun fun fun.

Time to gather at EVO for a national team camp! This is largely a training camp rather than an ASSIGNMENT camp—the places at junior worlds will be assigned at the June camp, which is also closer to the selection of the Pan Ams team—but nonetheless the entire national team is slated to attend. The national team is quite large right now with 25 members (11 have been added in 2019 so far), but it’s worth noting that there were no other invitations this time. Only the current national team members are present.

We also learned this week that American Classic is returning to Utah on June 22. No word on broadcast yet.

C. All My Coaches

We had an addition to the list of open head coach positions this week with Gail Goodspeed from New Hampshire announcing her retirement after 40 years at UNH. FORTY. New Hampshire has advanced to regionals in each of the last six seasons, and finished this year in 34th place after dropping the play-in meet to NC State.

One head coaching position has of course been filled—Jordyn Wieber to Arkansas—but that still leaves us with seven currently undeclared: UCLA, New Hampshire, Central Michigan, William & Mary, Seattle Pacific, Southern Connecticut, and Cortland. Marsden has you covered with all the updates.

D. What else?

Antwerp is going to host worlds in 2023. I’m on board, but it’s probably not great that worlds continues being bunched in the same basic geographical area. Stuttgart 2019, Copenhagen 2021, Liverpool 2022, Antwerp 2023.

New recruiting rules in NCAA now prohibit contact of any kind until after the sophomore year of high school and prohibit all visits until just before the start of the junior year. This is progress and a much better situation that will hopefully curb the trend of 7-year-olds making verbal commitments to colleges. It won’t completely solve the problem because coaches who want to and have lax compliance oversight will always find ways around it, but it attempts to impose a much healthier schedule.

Because the FIG never met a rule about your appearance that it didn’t want to drop everything to institute, here is a VERY IMPORTANT leo rule for the 2020 Olympics, courtesy of Gretchen Wieners:

WE MUST DISTINGUISH between the plastics and the peasants.

E. GymCastic

If you haven’t yet listened to our NCAA nationals recap episode, you can (and should) do so. We were off this week, but we have a pretty delectable interview coming up soon. I was sick and slightly delirious during said interview and may or may not remember anything that happened, but I’ve been assured it’s a delight.


16 thoughts on “Things Are Happening – May 3, 2019”

  1. I agree with the geographic area comment (particularly since the Olympics will also be in Paris in 2024).

    I think I’ve heard that the US doesn’t think it’s worth it to hold Worlds, which may be true, but it will have been over twenty years for a country that is consistently winning–a total of 25(!) from Anaheim in 2003 to the LA Olympics in 2028. If nothing else, it seems like a missed marketing opportunity. That being said, maybe the FIG sees the dumpster fire of USAG and doesn’t want to give it to them?

    1. Yes to the issues currently ongoing with USAG as to why the USA will not be hosting an international gymnastics event anytime soon.

      The best North American option would be Vancouver, B.C. (Canada).

    2. USAG is far too much of a dumpster fire to be trusted to put on any large event! And also, they kind of suck at putting on competitions in general… AND they would charge FAR TOO MUCH!

      1. North America probably won’t be hosting soon because USAG is USAG and Canada just had Montreal not too long ago. The one country that I think should be up soon is Australia, not having hosted since Melbourne in 2005 (14 years removed from that now with a minimum of a 20 year break with Antwerps announcement ) despite having really good facilities to host. I also think Brazil or Argentina would have gotten a chance to host worlds although Brazil is still reeling from hosting the olympics. Doha was a nice change of pace, but as a whole I just wish we could see a host country that isn’t Europe.

      2. I second Zyxcba’s vote for Australia (Perth or Sydney!), but think New Zealand would be an awesome choice as well. Are Southern Hemisphere countries snubbed more often because it’s too long of a flight for everyone? I mean, Australians go to competitions all the time without complaining.

      3. I don’t like the idea of Australia considering that AcroMat would likely be the equipment sponsor. I’ve heard that their equipment sucks and that the only reason that they are found everywhere in Australia is due to import fees for better equipment.

      4. Canada just hosted Worlds in Montreal but Vancouver is on the other side of the country (there’s more distance then between all the European locations mentioned combined) – think of the distance between Boston and Seattle.

        Vancouver is also only a couple hours north of Seattle and it’s a very easy, scenic drive if the right location in Vancouver is picked. Many of the Canadian Olympians in recent years have also come out of Vancouver-area clubs.

        Heck maybe USAG and the Canadian organization can work together to host it in Vancouver, it could help be a positive for the former’s reputation (hopefully it doesn’t work in reverse and hurt the Canadian org). USAG doesn’t deserve to host on home soil right now, but working with Canada to host in a city that’s close to an American city could be positive all around.

    3. Seoul, Beijing, Delhi, Tel Aviv, Auckland, Cape Town…all would be good non-European or North/South American cities to host. Japan would be good but Tokyo will not long have had the Olympics. Europe is easy for FIG and I agree that the USA shouldn’t be hosting anything in their current state but FIG could probably be more proactive in looking elsewhere.

  2. Spencer, you should make a post titled, “100 reasons Kathy Johnson Clarke is Amazing” or something like that. She is the GOAT

  3. Yeah i think US should again host a worlds soon but probably not il they put out the fire.. So maybe within 5 yr hopefully?

    So does that mean the individual gymnasts also get to be with the 4 person team during qualification or will it be complete isolation in a separate qualification group? I am in favor of having them with the team so evryone can cheer and bond. I guess the distinct leo in that case is kinda needed so i would be kinda fine with it?

  4. When was it decided that Suzanne was going to stop (officially) Suzanning? Marsden has her listed along the retirements…?

    1. That would be interesting. I was beginning to think she’d stick around another two years so it would be an all Kupets team when she left. Although maybe she only stuck around for year 2 because they were already switching out an assistant.

      1. Courtney was also pregnant with her second child since being named head coach at UGA in 2017, so I figure Suzanne stayed for a second year to help out.

        Dickson and Vega are the last remaining gymnasts from the former coaching staff – Oakley/Emily were signed but didn’t compete. I get the feeling at least one of the sophomores turning juniors will end up medically retiring at some point.

        Is Sydney Snead doing grad school at UGA? Could she be the new student-volunteer coach?

  5. I’m willing to bet that Terin’s “attorney’s” are currently chewing her out for posting that screed.

  6. I don’t understand why USAG cannot institute and enforce a professional policy re: social media usage. This is not the first time someone employed by or affiliated with the organization has created a problem by making random public comments on sensitive matters online. You’d get fired immediately from just about any other company, for-profit or not, if your careless use of social media led to this kind of negative attention and rebuke in the midst of an ongoing crisis. Why is it so difficult for USAG to do this?

    1. Amen!

      Like holy shit, we are a slow-learning species. How hard is it to learn not to say anything controversial online or in social media if you have a public-facing job? Keep it to snaps of the food you are eating or whatever. Never offer support or cover for abusers or suspected abusers. It really isn’t that hard…

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