Things Are Happening – June 4, 2020

A. Black Lives Matter

This week, Alexis Brown joined us on the podcast to talk about her experience kneeling during the national anthem in the 2017 and 2018 NCAA seasons, the reaction from within the gymnastics community (spoiler alert: it was bad!), and her thoughts on the current protests of police brutality. So, I recommend giving a listen to her story.

434: Svetlana Khorcanceled GymCastic: The Gymnastics Podcast

WATCH HERE Club Gym Nerd members can watch the podcast being recorded (pre-edits with all the flubs and hiccups) and see video of the routines we discuss. GYMTERNET NEWS #GymnastAlliance is growing: We discuss the latest news out of Belgium and the Netherlands We have some THINGS to say on what we've now learned about Ellis O'Reilly's health How do we handle abusive coaches who admit their mistakes? SIGHx100000. Khorkina. Reflections on the Heavy Medals podcasts and what Geza Pozsar has been saying lately The Human Rights Watch report on sports in Japan MINI-COMMISSION We have been commissioned to add two events to women's gymnastics. Let's go. PLUS Wearing tights in gymnastics competition Riley's new bars dismount Feedback on majoring in gymnastics, smoking while tumbling, Sarah Jantzi and Rhonda, Spencer needing to figure skate, Jane Allen, and Khorkina things JOIN CLUB GYM NERD Join Club Gym Nerd for access to Behind the Scenes episodes. Buy our awesome clothing and gifts here. We have masks too! RELATED EPISODES 433: Weirdest Gymnastics Exhibitions of the 90s (Commissioned) 432: #GymnastAlliance Best of GymCastic: The Leotard Episode 431: 2003 Team Final (Commissioned) 430: Athlete A with Jennifer Sey 212: Rio WAG Olympic Prelims
  1. 434: Svetlana Khorcanceled
  2. 433: Weirdest Gymnastics Exhibitions of the 90s (Commissioned)
  3. 432: GymnastAlliance
  4. Best of GymCastic: The Leotard Episode
  5. 431: 2003 Team Final Commissioned

Being an icon as usual, Kennedy Baker got the “we’re not going to keep our experiences of gymnastics racism hidden anymore” ball rolling earlier this week when she posted about Florida silencing her when she was on the receiving end of racist comments from her team.

So here’s the deal:

If you cheered for this

You have to care about this

It is at least encouraging that Trinity Thomas is reporting a more positive experience for herself at Florida in the current era.

But wait there’s more! So much more. So so much.

One thing we only slightly touched on in the GymCastic episode when discussing gymnasts’ stories of racism within the sport (I think she posted as we were recording) is Tia Kiaku’s statement about the racism she experienced at Alabama before leaving the team during this past season. She expanded upon that in this piece, noting several other incidents involving teammates and Dana Duckworth, in addition to Bill Lorenz who made the initial “back of the bus” comment she discussed— plus all the talks and the meetings that left her so unheard that she felt she had to leave the team.

So…I guess Dana’s full quote should have been, “You are beautiful, you are lovely, go out there and enjoy this as long as you weren’t really raised black.”

We also heard this from Ashley Lambert, the former Nebraska gymnast, detailing similar experiences of teammates using the N-word (who raised these cruel idiots?) and more “back of the bus” comments from coach Dan Kendig.

Remember that time when I was like, “Well at least we don’t have to judge Dan Kendig too harshly for getting resigned for an semi-unimportant reason like floor music money”…? Cancel that sentiment. Judge away. Please.

It’s almost like the culture is rotten to the core. Or something. Just spitballing here.

B. Other Developments

In a somewhat surprising competition development, the UEG announced that it still intends to hold the European Championship during the 2020 calendar year, with men’s Euros now slated to run from December 9-13 and women’s Euros from December 17-20, both in Baku, Azerbaijan, presumably because of “there are fewer rules in this house” reasons.

As we have learned, gymnastics events in Baku only get canceled in the middle of the event, and only if the government forces them.

So we’ll see about that. I’m sure a lot depends on how this summer’s attempts to restart the money sports go.

If they do go ahead in December, that seems pretty odd because the actual 2021 Euros are still slated for April 2021 in Switzerland. So you’re going to have two European Championships in the span of five months? I mean, I’m not complaining, but…

The UEG has said that the December 2020 event is still the one that will count for Olympic qualification, not the April 2021 event, which is also significant for age reasons because it means the 2005 babies wouldn’t be eligible for this qualification opportunity because they won’t be seniors yet in December, even though they’re now going to be eligible for the Olympics.

Which the FIG confirmed today by publishing its official new Olympic qualification procedures. And nothing new under the sun there. They basically just told us that, yes, the 2005 babies will be eligible to compete at the Olympics for women and that, yes, the apparatus and all-around qualification series will be concluded in 2021. (Allegedly.)

They haven’t settled on dates for those remaining 2021 events (far away) because both series are now simply scheduled to run until June 29, 2021—a general deadline for the qualification system to end because the IOC needs to know all nations’ official entries by July 5.

Meanwhile, the all-around world cup series is now listed as running from March 2020 to June 2021, leaving it open for those American Cup results from 2020 to count.

46 thoughts on “Things Are Happening – June 4, 2020”

  1. Another Thing that Happened is that Derek Galvin, the head gymnastics coach at UNC, announced his retirement after nearly 40 years on the job. So congrats DD Breaux, I think that means you win NCAA gymnastics coach Survivor.

    The timing of it all is odd as hell but as far as I know there’s nothing to see here (I have no connection with the UNC program). Galvin is getting up there in years, and as the only male coach on the team he was doing some very heavy spotting labor. I was expecting this announcement to come sometime in the next couple years. He seems to be universally beloved, and it’s a real shame his final season (in which UNC was supposed to host the conference championship) was cut short.

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  2. Thank you, Spencer (and the whole gymcastic crew) for amplifying these women’s voices, which very much need to be heard.
    It’s crazy to hear about teammates racist remarks. So much about all that “sisters” BS. While sports are shut down for CoVid, this is an excellent time for programs to take a deep look at themselves and weed out the racism that is abusing black athletes. I think what surprises me is that what these are not subtle micro-aggressions, this is overt hate speech.

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      1. Interesting. The impression I’ve always had is that she has been a positive force on the Alabama team but hasn’t been able to get results. Curious if you can share more?

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  3. What floors me is to hear Ashley Lambert’s account of how she was told by her fellow black teammate that we “get called the N word all the time by a teammate and she won’t stop” …kids born in THIS century (or any century for that matter ) using the N word and not giving it a second thought?! What is more depressing is that this is how they were raised…to be a racist…

    Liked by 2 people

    1. AND after people ask them to stop, THEY DON’T.
      I can see how being raised in a racist environment may make you ignorant, but when you refuse to change your behavior when people tell you it’s hurtful, then you too are a racist.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Fwiw- Kupets did put up a message yesterday on their Twitter account. I thought it was fairly productive. I’m really disappointed in Kendig, Bama, and UF. Every statement Elise Ray makes is lovely because she is lovely. And I call BS on Jay Clark. He’s already back to reposting crap from Megan MCain’s loathsome/plagarist husband.

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    1. This is why I dislike the narrative that the ones to take a little longer to come out with a statement are the bad guys. I’d rather someone take their time and come up with something thoughtful than quickly release something unproductive. And Jay Clark, who I believe was in the early group, is now living proof that you can’t read much into rapid response.

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      1. I agree with this. I’m white and I know I can’t ever fully understand. But I’ve been doing a lot of reading over the past few days and I sure know a lot more than I did earlier in the week. If I had been in the position of needing to make a statement earlier in the week, it would probably have come over pretty tone-deaf.

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      2. Yep- give him another week and he’ll be posting that the real issue is sin not racism or some other BS. Folks should have heeded Kat Ding’s early warning. I have no clue to the truthfulness of this but rumor was they were in the mix for Thomas until she saw his social media and headed to Florida. I will say it all used to be open then he took atleast one of the accounts private. Durante also posted some BS crap about an Asian student needing to write in English because this is America with a screenshot of the other students private computer. I assume they all make brooms as a teambuilding exercise at this point.

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      3. I’m interested to see what happens in a couple years with LSU because Dunne and Shchennikova at least seem way less Jesus-y than the norm for that school, and as the presumed future stars of the team they’re the most likely to set the tone. It’s been pretty obvious for years that Clark either seeks out evangelical Christian recruits specifically or they’re drawn to him like a moth to a flame, but as LSU’s profile has gone up the recruit pool might be getting more diverse in that regard.

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    2. Re UF, it seems like Jenny Rowland has made some positive changes – Trinity Thomas has spoken positively about her time here and Kennedy Baker posted that Jenny reached out after the Kennedy’s initial post and they have been having positive conversations. Not to say that whatever may have happened at Florida is completely in the past but hopefully they are moving in the right direction.

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      1. Tone deaf Dana Duckworth ….in an article by SI, Tia Kiaku says that she reported the racist behaviors of her teammates to Dana and it was suggested that SHE (Tia) “take a break from the team” in the fall of 2019…

        … and believe it or not, it gets worse , Dana calls Tia’s mom and says she’s “heard some things about Tia” , the mom thinks she’s got videos of something but NOPE , Dana says “I hear she’s been sleeping around” ….and then proceeds to tell the mom she thinks Tia is “acting out like this because I’ve never seen a father in attendance at meets” calling the mom out for being a single parent, and THEN the delightful Dana says “I have these girls to look out for and we’re spending time on this and I need to worry about winning a National Championship” …..so evidently Tia wasn’t one of the girls Dana needed to “look out for” , racist behavior is ok with Dana but not more than 1 boyfriend or single parenthood, and Dana just wanted her gone …

        Like I said , Dana Duckworth is NOT a nice person …

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I think these Southern schools have really conflated “classy” with “looking put-together and having nice clothes and makeup.”

        “Classy” means you behave yourself well and treat others respectfully, including in difficult situations. In no world does that involve trying to slander the character of your black gymnast/teammate, because you can’t possibly cope with the fact that you created and maintained a hostile, racist environment that she is now speaking out against.

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      3. Correct (lived in the south for a while). These are the same people who play up how nice it is to have a CLASSY and ELEGANT First Lady for once (read: not the black lady).

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    3. I remember Ruby Harold doing an interview about her transition to college at LSU, and she talked about the culture shock about how religious the States is…and I was like, you’re not getting a great representation of what America is like LOL

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      1. I was surprised she picked LSU in the first place for that reason. Previous Brits like Becky Wing and Nicola Willis went to California and Florida. I don’t know Ruby’s faith leanings, but it’s always going to be a culture shock after Bristol.

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  5. Good ol’ Rhonda seems to be the common denominator at Florida …to allow teammates (her athletes that SHE recruited) to call others the N word repeatedly and not toss them from the team is inexcusable…..but she parlayed her “success” on over to USAG and joined the dumpster fire there ….I believe it’s called karma.

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  6. It will be interesting to see the tone of Clark’s team going forward…my daughter was recruited by him when he was at Georgia and while she had gone to parochial school her whole life , nothing prepared us for how it was at Georgia …. we were shown into the room (I believe it was in or near the locker room) where the gymnasts “voluntarily write their favorite Bible verses on the wall in sharpie…but don’t worry if you don’t want to do that as we have one gymnast who doesn’t”…yikes ! It was Kat Ding btw …who must’ve had a really strong skin to be on that team. The fact they could name “the one” was worrisome and there were other religious and behavior references that we took a hard pass on that school…..

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  7. Is Georgia not a state School? LSU sure is, as the name implies. What the hell is going on with all the religion? I THOUGHT that state or public schools in the US are supposed to be seperated from religion? Am I missing something? I live in Europe.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Also it’s a really fine line to walk because a public institution can violate the first amendment by pushing religion, but also by interfering with one’s ability to practice religion.

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    2. When I’m angry with the South for dragging the US back into the dark ages, I feel like the frost anonymous, but it might be more fair to say that the South has a deeper culture of Christian religion than the rest of the US, it’s ingrained much more in public and private culture, and that’s been manipulated quite a lot by politicians over the last century. Performing Christian… rituals? (I can’t say performing christianity, because that’s not the same) publicly is much more socially appropriate- and sometimes expected – in the south, Midwest, and rural areas than coasts and cities. So it’s a little harder to get people to really separate Church and State in their social behaviors, even if officially these are non religious public schools.

      (Btw contradictions like these exist in most or all European countries, they just play out differently due to different histories…)

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    1. Lots of whispers a few months back that CKC didn’t want to give her the fifth year she’s eligible for. I don’t know whether she’s on the transfer portal (which I’m desperate to creep on if muggles can access it so can someone lmk?). TBH, the fact that she says “UGA gymnastics alum” makes me think she’s decided to finish out school at UGA and quit the sport.

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      1. She, Vega, and pederdon (sp) seemed to have graduated on time. Apparently returning to UGA is still possible but her biggest problem became losing access to rehab because of COVID. If she competes again shell either be a grad student or working on an additional Bachelor degree.

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      2. Not clear that she’s lost access to rehab? One of my coworkers was injured a few months ago and is regularly going to his physical therapy appointments and we live in an area that took lockdown super seriously.

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      3. Anon @1:34.
        I’m a D2 athlete so I don’t entirely what resources are available to D1 athletes. With that said, if we want to receive treatment/rehab from anyone other than our athletic trainer, then we the athletes are responsible for finding a place & paying. And when our school shut down due to covid, we lost access to our trainers and training room so unless you had some really great health insurance or cash throw to around, you largely lost all your rehab and PT resources.

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  8. RIP Kurt Thomas

    Kurt Thomas, the first U.S. male gymnast to win a world championship gold medal, died Friday June 5 at the age of 64. He had a stroke on May 24 caused by a tear of the basilar artery in the brain stem.

    Video link of Kurt Thomas 1979 World Championships:

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    1. What was said about Auburn. I’ve always thought Graba was a stand up guy. These Revelations are really making me question some previous assumptions.

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      1. A’Miracal Philips posted on her instagram (including calling out a group of her teammates) – you can read it there. Also Kennedy Finster and Telah Black.

        Mixed feelings about Graba’s apology. Better than Duckworth’s, but not sure if it’s enough. I think Finster also stated that she’d spoken with Graba about this in the last few days and felt she was listened to, which is a good thing.

        https://eu.montgomeryadvertiser.com/story/sports/college/auburn/2020/06/10/former-auburn-gymnastics-finster-phillips-black-racism-coach-jeff-graba-apologizes/5332130002/

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  9. Dana claiming that she couldn’t deal with racism because she was focused on winning nationals is the quite the detail. It sure hasn’t looked like she’s been trying to win nationals lately.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Also…. the racism she had to “deal with” was pretty straightforward.
      Meet with your coaching staff, and then with your team. Tell them that racist jokes or comments are absolutely unacceptable at all times. Explain that these jokes make black gymnasts feel uncomfortable, unsafe, and unwanted, and that it absolutely does not matter what your intentions were because the outcome and impact are the same. Tell them that these jokes and comments will not be tolerated, and if a situation happens again in which a black gymnast asks you to cease racist behaviors and you make excuses or refuse, you will be asked to leave the team or staff.
      Then apologize directly to the affected gymnasts in front of the team and staff, and commit to doing better.
      This is not that hard. But it’s pretty hard if you are a big racist yourself and cannot fathom that your own behavior might be a problem.

      Dana needs to go.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Dana has “needed to go” for a long time….her vile, racist, condescending behavior with those not in favor has been going on for years …. and thank you Tia for having the courage to speak up, and keep speaking up…Dana go back to your hole and never come out .

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    2. the sheer gall to tell an athlete‘s parent „can you not bother us with your non-issues, we’re trying to do things here”. I mean, just wow. And to say that about racism on your team – Dana really showed her true self.

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    3. the sheer gall to tell an athlete‘s parent „can you not bother us with your non-issues, we’re trying to do things here”. I mean, just wow. And to say that about racism on your team – Dana really showed her true self.

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      1. I believe Dana’s contract ended after the 2020 season (according to Roll Bama Roll), and I very highly doubt that it’ll get renewed. It didn’t look like it would going into this season, than it looked like it might since Bama looked improved, but now I can’t see them renewing it unless Alabama wants to face some serious backlash.

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  10. You know, it wouldn’t surprise me if the powers that be at Alabama have wanted to fire Dana for a while now (for not winning) but felt they couldn’t because she talked a good game about positive culture at a time when the sport was getting LOTS of bad headlines. And now she’s handed them their justification on a silver platter.

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