The Balance Beam Situation

Because gymnastics is a comedy, not a drama

Things Are Happening – August 22, 2020

A. AGREE TO DISAGREE

Yesterday, Alyssa Beckerman posted the Google Doc we’ve been waiting for our entire lives, her account of some of the emotional manipulation and callousness she experienced during her time as a cast member on The Miss Val Show and what went down prior to her much-discussed removal from the team.

At this point, I just want to know where I can preorder the hardback.

Alyssa’s account illuminates some of the inherent contradictions of the Miss Val Positive Coaching Retirement Tour (smyoosh that like button if you’re old enough to remember when Miss Val wasn’t considered “the warm and fuzzy healthy coach”) and pulls back the curtain on how the power dynamics and inherited bad advice in college gym can lead to equally toxic environments as elite. But in addition to that, it’s simply nice to get (part of) the story of Alyssa’s gymnastics saga from her own perspective, rather than from all the other very not-Alyssa, antagonistic perspectives we got during her competitive career.

We’ve been through this before, but the gymnastics-NBC-complex’s treatment of Alyssa was among the worst ever. And that’s a really deep category. The way she was spoken about—in public, on television—during the 2000 process was flat-out ugly. I mean, “sometimes Alyssa has too many windows open, and she leaves the drapes open as well” is branded on my brain forever, but actually what the hell kind of thing is that to say about someone during your trials broadcast? We, as viewers, were told many things about Alyssa’s personality and behavior and what was wrong with it by a lot of people—MLT, NBC, Val—all of whom weren’t Alyssa.

At the time, she didn’t have much avenue through which to tell her own story and say, “Hey. Wh–. Hey.” Not the case anymore.

As for Miss Val, her recent outspoken criticism of the current culture in gymnastics, as well as the acknowledgment of her own coaching failures, has been as welcome as it is rare among those actually entrenched in the US gymnastics community. You hope the sentiment is genuine, but either way it doesn’t change the experience of athletes like Alyssa, who clearly needed Miss Val to be a different coach than she was and didn’t deserve to be simply the fodder for Miss Val to learn whatever coaching life lesson she’s telling us she learned in the aftermath.

Val posted an apolog-ish on twitter, and…it’s a thing that’s there.

So, I know it would be petty and unhelpful, but I also really need Alyssa to reply “agree to disagree.” I NEED it.

B. Gymnast alliance

Athletes sharing their stories as part of the gymnast alliance shows no signs of slowing down (almost like the sport has a widespread problem!), and we’ll see if Alyssa’s statement prompts even more college athletes from different eras to speak. I’m sure the interpersonally toxic Gretchen Wieners of it all that Alyssa described in her time at UCLA is sadly par for the course at the top college programs.

It can be difficult to keep track of everyone’s statements, but I did want to highlight this one in particular. Reminder: Dan Baker from Stars is the current elite development coordinator, the one who replaced MLT after her 3-nanosecond tenure.

C. It’s getting baddddd out there

Over the last couple days, two college gymnastics programs have received the ax.

Sadly unsurprisingly, Alaska announced that it will be cutting the women’s gymnastics program at the end of the 2021 season. The gymnastics team has been on life support for the last couple years, and the mass exodus of gymnasts and coaches this summer seemed to indicate that things were moving in a specific direction. We’ll always have M’rcy Matsunami and Sophia Hyderally.

An identical fate will befall the Iowa men’s program at the conclusion of the 2021 season, a devastating blow to men’s college gym since Iowa is one of…you know…the few remaining large DI gymnastics programs. It emphasizes that there are no safe men’s NCAA programs—and really only a handful of safe NCAA women’s programs.

I’m sure everything will continue getting worse. Happy Saturday.

D. Wang Yan retires

Wang Yan announced her retirement this week.

Wang was part of the 2015 worlds and 2016 Olympics teams for China, winning team medals at both events. She burst onto the scene as a new senior in 2015, bringing much-needed, high-scoring VT/FX options to a team that was feeling very “what’s a floor routine,” reaching the AA, vault, and beam (!) finals at that first worlds. At the 2016 Olympics, Wang finished 6th in the all-around final and reached the vault and floor finals. Wang last competed at worlds in 2017, where she again reached the vault and all-around finals.

E. GymCastic

2021 World Championships, Event Finals Day 2 GymCastic: The Gymnastics Podcast

Today, our immediate reactions after watching the final competition at the 50th Artistic Gymnastics World Championships including beam and women's floor; men's vault, p-bars and high bar: World and Olympic Rebeca Andrade (BRA) in the beam final Battle P-Bars and vault with 2019 floor world champion from the Philippines, Carlos Yulo, USA's Yul Moldauer and Hashimoto Daiki (JPN) and Kaya Kazuma (JPN) Japanese beam goddess, Ashikawa, Urara vs. world champion Pauline Schaefer-Betz (GER) and beam star Luo Rui (CHN) Floor leaders, American Leanne Wong, power house Euros Champion Anastasila Bachynska (UKR) and world champ Murakami Mai (JPN) will compete against Maria Ceplinschi (ROU) and all-around champion Angelina Melnikova (RUS) for the podium Bronze all-around medalist Kayla Dicello (USA) vs World All-Around Champion Angelina Melnikova (RUS)  on floor and beam King Kohei Uchimura (JPN) swings high bar in front of his hometown in what may be his last elite performance. American national champion, Brody Malone (USA) attempts to make the medal stand on high bar BONUS CONTENT: Behind The Scenes Behind The Scenes is a live Q&A podcast just for club gym nerd members! We’re providing daily coverage after each day of competition plus podium training days during the 2021 World Championships in Kitakyushu, Japan! It’s our appreciation love letter to club members for supporting the show. Here’s how to ask questions live. Behind the Scenes we talk about all the stuff you can't see on the screen! What the Japanese team did after the meet was over, how we got in trouble with our fellow quarantine-ers  at the hotel; the travel saga; the robot machine COVID tests we took to get home Please login to your Club Gym Nerd account to listen and/or watch this episode. Not a member? Join here. 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 2021 World Championships, Event Finals – Day 1 2021 World Championships, Men’s All Around Final 2021 World Championships, Women’s All Around Final 2021 World Championships, Qualification – Day 3 2021 World Championships, Qualification – Day 2 2021 World Championships, Women’s Qualification – Day 1 2021 World Championships, Podium Training – Day 3 2021 Worlds Championships in Kitakyushu – Podium Training, Day 2 2021 Worlds Championships in Kitakyushu – Podium Training, Day 1 2021 World Championships Preview RELATED LIVEBLOGS Live Blog: 2021 World Championships, Even Finals – Day 2 Live Blog: 2021 World Championships, Even Finals – Day 1 Live Blog: 2021 World Championships, Men’s All-Around Finals Live Blog: 2021 World Championships, Women’s All-Around Finals Live Blog: 2021 World Championships, Qualifications – Day 3 Live Blog: 2021 World Championships, Qualifications – Day 2 Live Blog: 2021 World Championships, Qualifications – Day 1 Live Blog: 2021 World Championships, Podium Training – Day 3 Live Blog: 2021 World Championships, Podium Training – Day 2 Live Blog: 2021 World Championships, Podium Training – Day 1  
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In the most recent episode, we discuss the Texas Dreams fallout, D-D Breaux’s retirement, and NCAA lineup racism.

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