The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

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.

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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.

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