Newsletter editor Lily here.
Last night and then during my lunch break today, I watched the new Netflix documentary Athlete A, which unpacks USA Gymnastics’ culture of abuse that went beyond team doctor Larry Nassar molesting girls and young women for over 30 years. At the center of this particular film is the story of former elite gymnast Maggie Nichols, who was poised to make the Olympic team in the years leading up to Rio before she was mysteriously left off of the final roster in 2016 and not even made an alternate. In deciding to pursue a case against Nassar for sexually abusing her, the USA Gymnastics railroaded her and cut her Olympic dreams short.
One of the undercurrents of the documentary that may be of particular interest to CM’s Mama Bears is how it talks about the trust that many gymnasts’ parents put in the organization, as well as its administrators, trainers, and coaches, to have their children’s best interests at heart. Even worse, many of these young girls suffered lasting physical and emotional trauma from what they experienced, which still haunts the parents who actively supported them and encouraged them to pursue their dreams. What’s harder is the realization that it’s not just one person doing harm to children but an entire system that shames them for speaking up and doesn’t take their concerns seriously.
I know lots of folks are a little fatigued right now, but I definitely recommend Athlete A if you have the emotional capacity to watch it at some point. It’s a dark reminder that people like Larry Nassar are only the tip of the iceberg, and even taking them out of the equation doesn’t necessarily change an overwhelmingly toxic system. Often the best thing we can do is rebuild from scratch.
Today’s new questions on Chairman Mom:
- How to deal with a 6 year-old mean girl?
- How do you deal with co-founder jealousy?
- Husband hiding $70k, need advice