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.
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. THIS WEEK'S INTERVIEW Alexis Brown was a UC Davis gymnast, is the co-program record holder on beam, and knelt during the national anthem in the 2017 and 2018 NCAA seasons. We caught up with Alexis to hear her thoughts on kneeling now—two years on—and how she feels about the current protests against police brutality of black Americans. She tells us whether she feels more hopeful or disheartened about the experience in retrospect, what she makes of the NCAA programs who haven't made statements, and what she would like to see from white members of the gymnastics community. Resources For Action: https://medium.com/equality-includes-you/what-white-people-can-do-for-racial-justice-f2d18b0e0234https://blacklivesmatters.carrd.cohttps://www.benjerry.com/about-us/media-center/dismantle-white-supremacyhttps://www.obama.org/wp-content/uploads/Toolkit.pdfhttps://www.obama.org/anguish-and-action/ GYMTERNET NEWS We round up the reactions (and occasionally lack thereof) to the protests from those in the gymnastics community, including Kennedy Baker, Tia Kiaku, and Steve Butcher. Plus, what we can do in the gymnastics community, obliviousness and defensiveness, reasons there might be silence, compassion fatigue, and how there's no better time to get rid of IOC's Rule 50 against demonstrations. JOIN CLUB GYM NERD Join Club Gym Nerd for access to Behind the Scenes episodes. We have masks too! RELATED EPISODES 426: Body Roll Abomination 425: GymCastic Fixes Judging (Commission) 424 Emotional Abuse: The Maggie Haney Eight Year Ban Behind the Scenes: Gymnast Nicknames with Scott Bregman Behind The Scenes with coach Denis Vachon Behind the Scenes: May 15, 2020 Behind The Scenes: Exactly What is Going on With Gymnast's Special Underwear? Video Podcasts
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.
Despite there being soooo much nothing going on, the gymnastics news hasn’t fully stopped, and a number of gymnasts have let us in on their career decisions made during the apocalypse. A rundown:
New Zealand and Boise State gymnast and overall gem Courtney McGregor announced her retirement this week. As you’ll recall, Courtney set the tone for 2020 when her Achilles exploded in the very first meet of the season, and then the entire world went, “So…same I guess” and we’re all currently working under the theory that she is an oracle.
She did have the option to return for a fifth NCAA season in 2021, but as she explains in her post, given the uncertainty surrounding the season and the fact that she has already completed her academics, returning to BSU for a maybe-season was not the right call for her.
Right now, I’m thinking about that time at worlds last year when I went into the training hall and her coach immediately yelled, “ONLY NICE COMMENTS” at me. As if there would be any other. Happy retirement, Courtney.
USAG announced today that the 2020 editions of Classic and Nationals are officially off and that we all just have to reset for the 2021 editions instead. Sigh. Previously, the party line had been that these events were postponed and that USAG would reassess possibilities for holding them in late summer or fall, but that always seemed like a pipe dream. You can’t really set a date (or venue) for nationals if you can’t set a date for athletes to return to their gyms first.
In a statement, USAG said, “Listen up, pee heads, we have literally no reason to try to organize these meets without crowds because then we can’t charge 8 million gold bars per ticket—or, I mean, after consulting with public health experts and in an effort to protect of our community and the wider world, we will not hold nationals this year.”
Oof. I’m out of practice with this, it’s been so long. How does one…say…the things…that are happening?
A week on from when USAG told those involved that it would be announcing a verdict in the Maggie Haney affair (CALENDARS ARE HARD, Y’ALL—what with the days and the boxes), we learned today that Haney has been suspended for eight years for ruining the life of national treasure Laurie Hernandez. Haney can apply to be reinstated after those eight years and would then be on probation for a further two, but eight years is a loooong time…
Laurie discussed the mental toll of training with The Haney in an instagram post today, and everyone went, “You could tell by that leg pose.” Burned into my brain.
In the most recent information about this case, we also learned that Riley McCusker was among the athletes who affirmed to the hearing panel that Maggie sucks, which had not been confirmed during the initial hearing. Remember when we were playing the “but Riley could stay with Maggie because she’s 18” game? Ye…no.
You know that thing where it’s been a couple days since you posted, and you don’t know what to write about because there’s a pandemic, but then something falls right into your face?
My beloved number babies at 538 posted a piece today on how the Olympic timeline has been unkind to Simone because of GYMNAST AGE. This piece generally would have benefited from taking an era-specific look at the age of successful Olympic gymnasts rather than an overall view because the trend of the last couple decades has been one of increasing age of medal-winning gymnasts, which provides compelling counter-evidence to the conventional wisdom of “age + gymnastics = bad” on which this argument is based.
The average age of the WAG medalists at the 2016 Olympics was 20 (up two years compared to 2004 when the average medalist age was 18), and Simone was the second youngest of the bunch in Rio. That she would stick around for another Olympics, at which she’d then be one of the elder stateswomen, isn’t an odd or remarkable development.
On the issue of Simone’s timeline, it’s hardly a strange or uncommon revelation that turning senior the year after the Olympics makes for a rough schedule. Yes. Rebecca Bross on line 3. It hasn’t really mattered in Simone’s case because she’s Simone, has done an accomplishment or two in her time, and isn’t really in need of “what if” thinking the way an athlete like Bross might be. But she nonetheless had the least charitable of birth years.
Any contention, however, that Simone’s career accomplishments might actually have changed given a different birth year is more controversial. Specifically, this article contains the offhand assertion that Simone likely would have won the 2012 Olympic all-around title.