There is no way to avoid the brutal reality: gymnastics culture is in need of a massive overhaul. This is not a new concept, as many have been talking about it over the last two decades.
However, the recent incredible documentary Athlete A on Netflix has, rightfully so, shaken the gymnastics culture to the point of invoking anger, disbelief, and a demand for real, meaningful change.
Not just PR statements, forming committees, and scapegoating a few “bad apples” as the reason we are in this horrific mess. But real, concrete step by step plans being made and executed on, which involves holding those accountable for their actions and having a zero-tolerance policy to those who do not live up to proper moral and ethical guidelines.
Are there thousands of good coaches, gym owners, medical staff, and support staff working in gymnastics? Yes. However, are there still people who have very broken morales and motivations causing unnecessary suffering to young gymnasts? Yes. It is the responsibility of everyone in the gymnastics community to hold themselves to a higher standard, hold others to a higher standard, and commit to a daily pursuit to change the mind-boggling problems that have been normalized for the last 30 years.
The US is the most horrific example of what can happen when we fail to act to correct these issues. But rest assured, this is a sport wide, level wide, and worldwide issues.
To those in the film, and those not featured in the film, who stood up to stare evil in the face and demand justice/change, you are my heroes. I have the utmost respect for the courage, commitment, and work done to push so hard against a system stuck in its own brutal ways.
Before sharing today’s podcast on the culture discussion we need to have (links below), a reminder that in 2018 I wrote a huge 16 chapter book on Gymnastics Culture Change that I gave away for free in an effort to help people.
I make absolutely zero money off of it and have no hidden agenda. I wrote it after the entire scandal broke in 2016, and just want people to have access to the information. It has full chapters with 300+ peer-reviewed articles on
- Cultural and personal development
- Developing gymnastics flexibility safely that “sticks”
- Gymnastics Strength and Conditioning, combining traditional methods and new methods
- Recovery practices for gymnasts including time, sleep, nutrition/hydration, and stress management
- The most common gymnastics injuries, with current reviews on why they occur and how to help
- How to safely develop gymnasts for the long term, aiming for high performance and health
and much, much more
You can download it for free by entering your email here,
I was recently asked by Nick of National Gymnastics Curriculum to sit down and talk about what these real serious issues are, how we got here, and my thoughts on tangible change. This podcast was actually filmed the week before Athlete A came out, but it was a perfect fit for what the film tried to showcase. We discuss
- What are the real issues in gymnastics culture that no one wants to talk about
- How to highlight the great people in gymnastics, while holding the not great people accountable
- Why people in gymnastics are unwilling to embrace uncomfortable conversations
- Why role modeling and leadership at a local level is crucial for change
- The role that moral guidelines, overhauling the gymnastics education system and wellness/workload programs must be made
- What gyms and coaches should be thinking about as we return to gymnastics post COVID19
You can listen to the entire episode by clicking below,
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