Category Archives: Stuff and Nonsense

Things Are Happening – December 7, 2018

A. I. DECLARE. BANKRUPTCY

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.

Continue reading Things Are Happening – December 7, 2018

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Things Are Happening – November 30, 2018

A. USAG leadership whatevers

My case of USAG news fatigue syndrome is overwhelming. Anyway.

This week, Karen Golz “completed her service” as the chair of USAG’s board. Oh THANK you for your SERVICE, you American hero. Save your applause for the end!

She has been replaced by basically the same person, I think. The new chair is named Golfy Brand-Management, and she’s really into golfing and brand management. So we’re cured. Is there just a secret cabal of golf-business ladies that meets around the ninth green to Macbeth it up and give each other positions in the US Olympic movement?

Her introductory message is hilarious. Definitely read it. Best parts:

-“Some” challenges (yeah, I can think of a few)
-That tacked-on part about survivors that was obviously added after the first edit (nothing says “I care about this sentence” like starting with a conjunction—the resentment is thick like molasses)
-The reference to athletes finding success “both in the gym and in competition” (that’s not…those are…you meant “both in the gym and outside the gym” or something…)
-The exciting thing is that “we continue to maintain our membership.” Great. Hi, they barely have a choice, and that shouldn’t be the most exciting thing.

It’s all just so effing revealing.

USAG is also on the hunt for a new CEO, you guys. You know, that plum gig. Because everything’s fine. The board undertook an exhaustive search for the qualities that a new CEO should possess and the list is basically 1) proficiency in Microsoft Office and 2) a good attitude. When your list of qualities for CEO reads like a resume of nonspecific, uncheckable lies you wrote for a job you’re totally unqualified for, it’s a problem.

When it comes down to it, the sole qualification will be “actually wants to captain this sinking ship through a bankruptcy process.” And the winner is no one.

Oh. Also. Fun little note. USAG has decided not to acquiesce to decertification (because it’s about the gymnasts…) and will instead fight the process. That means that the USOC and USAG are continuing to have this horrendously public breakup on the quad as the USOC pursues stripping USAG of its national governing body status.

I live for the USOC playing out this little skit of “we can’t believe that USAG is so awful and we have to step in for the good of the athletes” like that’s something the USOC suddenly cares about—and like they’re not totally intertwined in responsibility and consequences.

B. You’re all the worst Continue reading Things Are Happening – November 30, 2018

Things Are Happening – November 16, 2018

A. Ron Galimore resigns…now?

Esteemed breaking news organization USA Gymnastics announced this morning that it just realized Ron Galimore might be bad, starting today and never once before that.

64 months late on the button, that’s our USAG.

Announced via tweet (because of the gravity of the situation), USAG informed us that Ron Galimore has resigned his position as chief operating officer. Not fired, mind you. Because I can’t possibly think of any basis on which to fire him. Just resigned. Innocently. For innocent reasons. Per USAG, he resigned voluntarily. For whatever that’s worth, or even means. Heaven forbid we think USAG might have done the right thing and forced him out.

“You can’t resign me in disgrace! I resign MYSELF in disgrace!”

As the COO, Galimore should have been on our rage radar from the beginning of this USAG barf parade, but he only moved to the forefront once emails showed his involvement in the scheme to create a cover story about why That Guy wasn’t attending nationals in 2015. Galimore was assigned the important job of lying to the medical staff and saying That Guy was just sick instead of being investigated for sexual abuse.

So that’s pretty bad. That’s “how many people might have been saved a lifetime of trauma if not for your actions” bad.

At the very, very least, it’s “oh, we definitely can’t have you working here anymore” bad.

And yet Galimore was kept on by USAG. And the FIG. Through this news. And months more. Past the MLT debacle. Outliving Kerry Perry. Even past the initiation of the decertification process last week. Only (voluntarily) resigning in disgrace now.

There must have been a reason. Was it just that he had been running the entire show for the last year because Box o’ Scarves was too incompetent to do so? (Which has been the assumption.) Or was there something else?

Anyway, we definitely only need a 16-word tweet about his resignation. No explanation or accountability necessary.

So this resignation is…good. But also…now? Finally? Of all the times to do it? Doing this six months ago might have been one thing. Now, it barely counts. It’s like brushing your teeth on your deathbed. Sure, it’s a healthy thing to do, but also like…you dead.

Galimore’s performance in the sickness-cover-up travesty really drives home one of the many fundamental failings of USAG—commitment to the idea that lawyers, administrators, and former athletes are the best, most qualified people to handle sexual abuse. They definitely know the right thing to do at all times. No professional experience required. “This random lady I golf with sometimes can probably handle it.”

B. Alyssa Baumann

To emphasize that point of USAG’s fundamental incompetence and skewed priorities, the story of Alyssa Baumann, who along with Kennedy Baker, told her survivor story this week. Continue reading Things Are Happening – November 16, 2018

Things Are Happening – November 6, 2018

A. USAG, please pack your knives and go

Can’t a fandom just have one measly second after worlds to decompress?

Apparently not. On Monday, the USOC’s new CEO Sarah Hirshland sent an open letter to the gymnastics community in which she announced that she has been in this position for 11 seconds and is already so sick of USAG’s big bag of bullshit that she might have to spontaneously turn inside out and live the rest of her life as an exposed spleen, so she can only imagine what the rest of us have been dealing with.

And by that, I mean she’s beginning the extremely rare process of removing USA Gymnastics as the national governing body for gymnastics in the US.

Wow.

To clarify, this announcement is just the opening step and doesn’t mean that USA Gymnastics has been decertified just yet. The USOC will now assemble a three-person panel to conduct a hearing, after which the panel will report to the USOC board, and the board will vote on the ultimate course of action.

Still, this entire process is governed by the USOC, so the CEO would not have initiated it blindly and would not have initiated it without a specific outcome in mind. The USOC intends to decertify USA Gymnastics.

This is a massive move, one I honestly did not think would come because it’s just so drastic and will have so many repercussions for the sport especially on a local, non-elite level—repercussions that we haven’t even begun to work through yet.

But it’s nonetheless absolutely necessary.

At its heart, the fundamental failure of USAG post-Nassar was an unwillingness or inability—from the corporate leadership all the way down through the veteran coaches—to look at itself and say, “We did a bad job. The thing we have spent our entire careers dedicated to? It was bad. We did it the wrong way. It was exploitative and demeaning and vicious, and our legacy will be as the bad guys. This is all of our faults, all of our responsibility, and we need to change.”

Or, in the words of Kristen DeCosta, “Gymnastics is fucked.”

Unable to countenance such a drastic ego-blow and such bare self-examination, USAG instead folded in on itself and its foundation of arrogance. The only aim was to avoid the admittance of wrongdoing, to protect the legal and financial standing of the organization and its reputation (as if that’s something anyone cares about), and as a result it turned to viewing survivors as adversaries who want to DESTROY ITS GREATNESS and viewing status in its little cabal of “trust” as the ultimate qualification, no matter how much sexual abuse you’ve helped cover up or defend.

Rather than admitting the failure of USAG and accepting the necessity of improving athlete treatment and changing a culture of unprofessional backdoor deals and cronyism, American gymnastics wanted only one thing—for the fury and public attention to die down so that everyone could go back to doing exactly what they’ve always done, with no one paying attention.

That attitude wasn’t going to change—spoiler alert: Ron Galimore still works there and unvetted trash people keep getting hired—so there was only one recourse remaining, to burn it down.

Here’s what USAG never understood: The increased attention? The explosions in leadership? The crumbling of old pillars? That was a gift. It was a golden opportunity to change the policies and conventions and people that weren’t working, that were out of date, that could get better. But USAG was never able to view it as a gift, only as an obstacle, a burden, a storm to be weathered rather than one bringing spring and rebirth metaphors or whatever literary slop you prefer.

In part, USA Gymnastics was never able to view this as a gift because it was never able to get itself together to do…anything. USAG’s most compelling and everlasting foundational identity is, and has always been, incompetence. Especially in the last couple years, with all of these piecemeal staffing changes, USAG has become an ant farm of differing agendas, keeping-your-job panic, and miscommunication, one that could barely organize who’s bringing plates for the birthday party let alone the hiring of a qualified leader or, say, a sport-wide culture shift.

When trying to make sense of the failures of USAG, I always have to remember that at its core, maybe USAG is just a bunch of not-so-smart people who failed upward and all hate each other and their lives and physically cannot do anything useful. Continue reading Things Are Happening – November 6, 2018

Things Are Happening – October 16, 2018

A. What a Bono

How’s a person supposed to preview worlds sufficiently when things keep happening?

Anyway, to the surprise of no one, USAG’s interim disaster Mary Bono resigned today as CEO, not quite four days after being hired. Although, the announcement came late Friday, and the next two days were weekend days, so we’re looking more at 1.33 business days at best (no credit as a wolf double). That means there’s still some discrepancy over whether this counts as defeating MLT’s short-tenure record or not. Thoughts and math welcome.

In her resignation statement, Mary spares a thought for the real victim in all of this—herself. For how dare she be forced to suffer at the hands of her own thoughts, words, and actions. Charitably, she also spares a thought for the secondary victim—us—for not getting to experience the wonder that is her. I guess.

The second paragraph is probably my favorite. “I had a storyline to roll out, I tell you! A storyline! Look how calculated to garner sympathy and deflect criticism it was!” That storyline, and the lack of understanding that we the public are looking for qualifications not storylines, is probably what accounts for the board making this bizarre selection in the first place. Continue reading Things Are Happening – October 16, 2018

Things Are Happening – October 13, 2018

A. Take Out the Trash Day

If you thought your paying-attention duties had ceased after the naming of the women’s worlds team, you neglected the importance of the patented USAG Friday night news dump.

In it, USAG revealed several things it hoped you were already too drunk to pay attention to closely. First, the humble peasants were allowed to see the selection procedures that govern which gymnasts will be allowed to take the Jade Carey Route through apparatus world cups to gain personal qualification to the 2020 Olympics. Basically, it’s Jade Carey and no one.

First, to be eligible, you must meet at least one of these criteria:

You’ll note the words “current national team member” cropping up in all of them. You’ve always had to be a national team member to get international assignments, so there’s nothing new or particularly onerous or unreasonable here, but these requirements do signal a desire to narrowly limit the number of people who can try for this. It tells me they don’t really want people with past elite success like Ashton Locklear or MyKayla Skinner just popping up and yelling, “Send me to Azerbaijan!”

Only three seniors currently meet these standards: Biles, Hurd, and Carey. Because we expect Biles and Hurd to compete at worlds this year with the team, that would leave only Carey able to go this route. But, these rules do not specify junior/senior, so by my reading, Sunisa Lee and Leanne Wong would both also be eligible for those early 2019 apparatus world cups (once they turn senior) through criterion 2, should they want that.

I don’t think that will happen because both will probably still see themselves as AA, team-spot contenders at this point, but it should be possible. Continue reading Things Are Happening – October 13, 2018

Things Are Happening – October 9, 2018

A. US worlds selection camp

The US will be streaming a worlds selection competition for the very first time on Thursday at 3:00 ET. It seems like USAG is actually doing something right, so I’m off to sit in a small box and be shocked for 16 hours. I’m sure something will go terribly wrong like there won’t be scores or they forgot to invite the gymnasts, so don’t worry.

No official time has been given for the announcement of the team (there’s our USAG!), but it’s going to be sometime later on Friday.

By way of a preview, here’s what those camp attendees who weren’t named to the nominative team need to do at the select camp to change the default outlook.

Jordan Chiles – Hit an Amanar every damn time she even looks at the vault. If she’s not hitting an Amanar, she won’t disrupt the nominative team. If she is, she has an excellent argument to go to worlds to deliver one event, likely in place of Kara Eaker.

Ragan Smith – Score 14+ on floor and 14.2+ on beam. Smith will need to have magically gotten healthy since nationals, of course, but if we see 2017 Smith show up, you start entertaining the possibility of replacing the McCallum-Eaker duo with Smith and a vaulter.

Shilese Jones – A good all-around competition probably lands her the alternate spot at this point, but she could improve the nominative team’s scoring potential on vault, so outscoring the other DTYs by multiple tenths and going 14.8+ is her best route. It would also help Jones if Smith has a good competition since Jones and Smith complement each other well (Jones could be the vaulter named above, but would need Chiles not to be hitting an Amanar).

Alyona Shchennikova – Her argument is all about bars. She would need to score a 15+ on bars and beat Hurd by multiple tenths there to make a useful one-event argument similar to the one Eaker is trying to make for beam. Basically, Shchennikova needs to beat Hurd on bars by more than Eaker beats Hurd on beam to say she’s the one-eventer of your dreams. Continue reading Things Are Happening – October 9, 2018