Five months ago, America watched as hundreds of women, mostly former gymnasts, spoke out about the sexual abuse from Team USA doctor Larry Nassar.
These women detailed their abuse from Nassar in court in front of Judge Rosemarie Aquilina.
From McKayla Maroney to Alexandra Raisman, it seemed like every single woman who had ever competed in gymnastics at an elite level came in contact with Nassar. Most ended up being molested or assaulted.
Nassar received 40-175 years in prison after the court heard testimonies from over 100 woman he abused. After his trial, investigations were launched against Michigan State University, USA Gymnastics and the Karolyi Family because of their connection to Nassar.
Michigan State University’s President, Lou Anna K. Simon, stepped down from her position, and the Karolyi family, albeit devastated, was exonerated. By process of elimination, most of the blame was left on USA Gymnastics.
On Nov. 5, the United States Olympic Committee voted to decertify USA Gymnastics as an Olympic affiliate because of their failure to intervene and take accusations seriously. While this might provide some closure for victims, closing USA Gymnastics is ending the dreams of thousands of gymnasts across the country.
USA Gymnastics was tasked with selecting members for the national team, and going to a USA Gymnastics certified gym is the first step for completing a Olympic dream.
According to NPR reporter Alexandra Starr, USA Gymnastics is only the fourth US Olympic team to have their governing body eliminated. The entire US Olympic Committee will now be selecting national team members.
This solution, as drastic as it is, will help survivors heal. It will allow already successful gymnasts to strive for Olympic medals with their world renowned gymnastic training. But this won’t help the little girl at home who’s plan of being the next Simone Biles is more cloudy than ever.
It’s predicted that since USA Gymnastics has lost its accreditation, more gyms will stop paying membership fees and the organization will go bankrupt. But now that gyms don’t have special accreditation, what’s to sway you to go to one gym in your city over another?
For small cities with one or two gyms, this won’t be an issue. If your child wants to be an elite athlete, send them to the best choice out of the two.
For bigger cities, like any city in the state of Texas, where you have tens of gyms to choose from, how do you distinguish which gym will produce the best gymnasts making your kid an Olympian?
There’s also the issue of favoritism of certain gymnastic gyms. When gyms had accreditation, all of the ranked gymnasts were eligible to try out for the national team. It was a clean slate to ensure that USA Gymnastics was truly choosing the best Olympic team. But with thousands of gymnastic centers across the country, and hundreds of gymnasts at each gym, there isn’t any way to assure that the selection process will be fair.
Something had to be done in response to Larry Nassau’s crimes, and with the already failing USA Gymnastics organization, eliminating them was the safest bet. But just because it was the easiest option, doesn’t mean it’s the best option.
Everyone that was involved with Larry Nassar should be punished for not believing accusations and for helping cover up his crimes over an almost 30-year time span. While most of these people are getting charged with crimes, there’s a large list of names still left to go through. The US Olympic Committee should be looking at punishing and charging those people before ending USA Gymnastics.
Taking away the USA Gymnastics structure was an extreme move, which will help most former gymnasts heal, but provides uncertainty for women pursuing their Olympic dreams.
Opinions expressed in The Nevada Sagebrush are solely those of the author and do not necessarily express the views of The Sagebrush or of its staff. Jacey Gonzalez is a student at the University of Nevada and studies journalism. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.