“It’s horrible, but it’s not the worst.”
As far as endorsements go, that is, what, rather … tepid?
Depending on the context, the comment might not be much of a big deal, but the context is this: sexual predators having close access to millions of young American gymnasts in clubs and training facilities from California to Florida.
The above comment — uttered by one of many commentators who are quoted in a recent USA Today article on the subject of child-molesting coaches — basically relates that, while the efforts of USA Gymnastics (the governing body for the sport in the United States) to police problem coaches are abysmal, programs in many other nations are even worse.
The bottom line, in what seems an altogether timely analysis given the currently ongoing Olympic Games, is that USA Gymnastics would not be on the medals stand in any rating of its performance to keep young gymnasts safe from predators.
Although the organization says otherwise, a wide swatch of critics refutes its claims. Although USA Gymnastics compiles a list of offenders that it bars from coaching at sanctioned events and from holding professional membership within its ranks, that list contains only the names of coaches; the national body does not investigate any of the many thousands of other employees who work at gyms nationally.
Moreover, a recent media investigation discovered that the names of some coaches did not appear on the list until many years had elapsed since their conviction on sex-related criminal charges.
And then there’s this: The national governing body reportedly only considers sex-abuse claims that come directly from victims or their parents, with information received from other sources — parents of other gymnasts, employees, fellow coaches and so forth — not being followed through on.
One former Olympian who is now president of a group focused upon the elimination of all types of abuse against athletes says that USA Gymnastic’s efforts to keep kids safe are flatly lax and have “groomed the gymnastics community into a false sense of security.”
Based on the broadly based criticisms that are being leveled, a ramped-up security program certainly seems to be in order.