Updated: Jun 29
Netflix Review: “Athlete A” Changed My Life.
It all happened so fast.
I believed pound for pound
girl gymnasts are the most superior athletes on earth.
They've pushed the limits of their art
Beyond what we thought was possible.
And although I still believe that...
I have to question now:
At what cost?
1976 was a big year: for gymnastics, college basketball
(and the Bi-Centennial of U.S. Democracy).
And Bela Karolyi was the coach of a little girl
Named Nadia Comeneci
who snatched the world's attention
in the ‘76 Olympics.
She was 14 years old.
She changed the landscape.
And women were gone
from World Class Gymnastics.
Bela Karolyi chose little girls based on three criteria:
And fucking fearlessness
(The expletive is mine, not his, and expresses degree.
A level of fearlessness likened
to Inner City Youth, Big Wave Surfers,
MotoCross and Downhill Skiing).
The girls were also ultra-competitive
Type A perfectionists and bound to please...
Anything to please.
(in that order)
And all for approval…
an Olympic Jacket
and a chance at a medal?
A chance at Gold.
Not so much the jacket
or a podium.
Go get em little girl!
It's a heady incentive.
Given the incentive:
What are people willing to do?
The kids? The parents?
What are they willing to say?
And not say?
And under different circumstances?
How would they act.
Check out The Milgram Studies and
"The natural inclination to appear cooperative even when acting against their own better judgement."
And the birth of modern day
Ethics in Psychology.
Here's an Atlantic Article from 2015.
Open the Dialogue about Private Parts.
Watching the film and the interview with Nasser.
He provided a possible reason for
Anally penetrating an athlete:
To adjust the Coccyx.
Tenuous but viable?
But undoubtedly worth a dialogue
Between the Doc, the child and the parent.
About touching private parts.
And a conversation about
Penetrating our private parts.
Under no circumstances
Is vaginal penetration permit-able
And that happened to girl athletes
The cases against begin in 1997
and pop up every few years.
And in between?
Parents complain to USA Gymnastics
Whose position is:
We do nothing until
A parent makes a Police Report.
What started with 3 known victims for a trial.
And then 500 in total came forward.
The take away from the #MeToo
Movement is to open the dialogue.
Particularly with kids, athletes, actors
All of them.
Come forward. Report. Right Away.
Ain't No Shame.
Tell your parents or the coach.
You have a responsibility to yourself.
And for parents…
Seek out that dialogue with yer youngin'.
Go to the police.
File the report.
There is a dignity.
And an honor.
In saving others from
Which we have suffered ourselves.
The truth shall set freedom;
And the healing can begin.
Here is the Link to a complete list of Mandated Court Reporters…
People required by Law to Report a Complaint
to Law Officials...
Teachers, Parole Officers, Social Workers, Principals,
Clergy. Animal Control Officers.
A Security Guard at the Social Security Office.
And if one doesn’t work?
Tell another one.
And another one.
Visit the Child Welfare Information Gateway...
And seek out a continuing dialogue
with your child.
More than a couple million girls
Participate in gymnastics every year.
Every 4 years
Five make the U.S Olympic Team
and three are alternates.
Champions separate themselves
the first time they step on a mat.
And people shake their heads
in awe of a four year old.
By the time the little girl is ten
she's weeded through regionals,
cart-wheels throughout the house
without breaking anything
and has been scouted
by any of the 100's of gymnastics schools.
“You gotta see this one!”
So by the time they’re 12
There’s a serious family conversation
about Going for the Gold in
the next 2 or 3 Olympics.
“You only have now little girl”
Is the message.
And by natural ability
and the desire for approval.
The little girl keeps winning
and getting better.
(Or they get hurt:
Which is a passive retirement.)
They train full time.
40 hours a week.
And camps in the summer
that run 7 days a week, 6-8 hours a day
for at least six weeks.
Elite Military Grade fitness
for underage participants.
Separated from their family;
Manson style isolation.
And these little girls do that
for 4, 6 or 8 years.
And then they're 18.
Have just reached the age of consent
have never had a consistent menstrual cycle
but have worked harder
than most people
will ever work in their whole entire lives.
A Gold Medal?
That’s the incentive.
To be the best in the world.
She was only 14.
1976 was also the year
that Bobby Knight's Indiana Hoosiers
men's basketball team
Only seven teams have done that in NCAA History.
It takes many stars to align
And talent is only one part of many.
The prevailing historical leadership attributes
were work hard, work harder,
Discipline discipline discipline.
Driven by passion and intensity.
That’s what created the undefeated team.
In “Athlete A”
The first Victim's Statement at the end of the Nasser trial
started like this:
“Larry you saw all the physical, mental and emotional
Abuse we suffered from our coaches and USA Gymnastics Staff.”
Mental, Physical and Emotional Abuse.
Here is a glance at Emotional Abuse
From the National Domestic Violence Hotline:
Criminalizing Emotional Abuse
with kids and parents
and husbands and wives.
Bobby Knight is one of the most successful
college basketball coaches of all time.
I have no doubt many former players
have PTSD from Coach Knight.
Or flashbacks of running till you vomit
or are lucky enough to get wobbly and pass out
(this before Gatorade kept us going).
They were all surely pushed out of their comfort zone.
Some got the message and quit.
A bunch of them are also
the best version of themselves
that they could have ever dreamed to be
and have flashbacks of glory.
Thanks to Coach.
By today's standards
Bela Karolyi the great defector
who looked for strength, flexibility
and fearlessness in little girls
And produced a canon of the greatest gymnasts
the world has yet known…
Anyways, the documentary film, "Athlete A" is worth the time.
Worth a view.
Now Available on Netflix.
Big Shout out to all the little girls.