Monday, September 26, 2011

Love the comments


8:47 AM on September 25, 2011
"It would seem that he really got them to perform at their highest potential. Maybe his techniques work... He did bring us Olympic gold and isn't that more important?"

Yes someone wrote this in response to the story about Don Peters, the former coach of SCATS and the national gymnastics team coach for much of the 1980s (including the 84 Olympics). I'm not sure he/she is serious with this insidious comment. Maybe it is intended to be facetious? I sure hope so. 
Ok I think maybe he/she is kidding. Obviously people can't think that. Right? 
I'm not going to read the gym blogs. 1) I think I am blocked from many of them (or was back when my book came out). Or maybe I'm just too dumb to figure out how to get on (a distinct possibility); 2) I've learned my lesson. It doesn't help to troll the comments. People who write mean-spirited, ignorant things on blogs, people that spew venomous hate blaming children... yes children! ... aren't worth my getting upset. So I won't read what they are saying. About Doe. Or me. Or the other unnamed girls. I know what I've said is true. I know I've spoken up with the truth as the priority because it will be the thing that helps the girls that still do the sport today. It will be the thing that helps the sport itself! But I've always considered Doe in this. Because she needed to tell this story herself. She didn't need me to speak for her (but man how I wanted to over the years). 
There is no money in this for anyone, as some commenters indicate. Gyms don't have money (do they?). There is nothing to be gained. And I don't think these women want anything other than peace of mind. I think they'd like to know that perhaps the USAG will look a little harder at these issues going forward. That a serious conversation will ensue about why these things happen and how the girls who ARE the sport will be protected in the future. 
Teachers leave classroom doors open when talking to students. Pediatricians have the parents in the examining room for the same reason. Coaches aren't governed by anyone or anything. They aren't teachers. There are no rules. The bad ones - and there are A LOT of good ones by the way - do as they please. They find ways to be alone with girls and boys who are unprotected. They exploit the vulnerable whose parents aren't around because they work 3 jobs to pay for life and gymnastics classes. This is what sexual predators do. They hide their predatory behaviors from those who seem risky (meaning: those who might tell) and they corner those who, they believe, won't speak up. They use the power dynamic - and lets face it, young girls are fragile, figuring out who they are, desperate to please, and will do anything to fall into the good graces of a coach/teacher/mentor - to get what they want. They shame the vulnerable. They attack the exposed. 
I am inspired by the courage of the women who finally spoke up after all the years of silence and shame and anger and fear.  These women whose trust in authority was violated. And for whom this must still play a role in their view of themselves.  Kudos to you all. Clear eyes full hearts can't lose.
Now let's start the real conversation about what happens next...


  1. I think the commenter was being sarcastic.
    I admire you and your friends for speaking up about this; it needs to be said. No matter how long it took to work up the nerve. You were right to let Doe do it on her own. Nobody should be giving you trouble for not telling her story, nor should you feel guilty.
    In my perhaps overly-optimistic mind, I feel that the unfortunate era of gymnast abuse pretty much is over, and that's due in a large part to people like you with the courage to stand up against it. I'm sure there are still cases of things like this, but I feel like they are very few and far between. Regardless, these cases deserve attention and so do the ones from however long ago.
    Don't worry what others may say, do what is right. Speak up for these girls and boys. Your heart is in the right place.

  2. i think you're right...i think this person was being sarcastic. i love sarcastic as much as the next person. seems like a weird place for it though.

    i hope you are right! but given that coaches on the banned list still pop up and coach in other gyms... I have my doubts. Regardless, I think there needs to be some conversation about whether or not the protections are in place. And if not, what they should be.