Thursday, January 25, 2018
C.A.: McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber
My daughter was accepted into her first "away-from-home" college today.
The day when she leaves home is now months away and has been coming since the afternoon we brought her home from the hospital years ago. I came to terms with it long ago and I will spend the next few months reassuring my wife as she prepares to say goodbye to the one person who has made her the happiest in her entire life.
So maybe you understand how angry I am about the news that's been coming out of a Michigan courtroom for the last few weeks.
I am a believer in the idea that the things that you do in this life not only affect you and the people around you, but untold people that you don't even know and will never know.
Among all of the terrible things learned about the years of sexual abuse of young athletes by a single doctor, I am most devastated by the violation of trust. This is something that will linger forever for the gymnasts and others, but also for people who are only aware of the courtroom trial but happen to have children.
Former Olympic doctor and trainer Larry Nassar signed over his soul long ago with his evil deeds. His betrayal didn't stop at the gymnasts and other athletes he violated, or the parents who relied upon him. He has betrayed anyone who sends their daughter out into the world.
What am I going to say to my wife now? Everything will be OK?
My daughter took a gymnastics class when she was around 7 years old. She didn't last long in it. Having never been around gymnastics much, I was struck by how difficult and dangerous it is. The juxtaposition between the challenges of the sport and the ages of the athletes really hit me then.
Gymnastics is unlike just about any other sport in that the best athletes are teenagers. And the best athletes these days must travel, around the state, around the country, around the globe. That's just the way it is in the 21st century.
Yet the gymnasts are 12, 13, 14 years old. If my daughter reached that level of success in gymnastics, I don't know how I'd feel about putting my trust in other coaches, trainers, handlers, etc. Could I do that? I'm going to let a 13-year-old compete miles away under the watch of grown men I barely know? Does this seem normal to anyone?
I am crushed by the statements made by all of the women in the courtroom, but especially by the Olympic gymnasts, whose faces have been plastered across television, the internet, on trading cards, etc. They paid their price for fame and they weren't old enough to give permission for any of it. Did they even really want any of it?
I sat in my chair at work and wondered whether any of them now wish they could have stayed home and went to the high school down the street for four years.
The trust that they held is gone forever.
This is why I have no problem with those who want to gut USA Gymnastics or Michigan State and start over. Colleges, especially, have a problem when it comes to sexual abuse and their students, which is bizarre because their JOB is to take care of students. We give colleges ungodly amounts of money. We give them our trust. In return we get "no comment" or "we're sorry," years after the fact.
I am lucky in that my daughter did not leave home at age 14. She will be leaving home at age 20.
But I can't say that what happened to McKayla Maroney, Aly Raisman, Jordyn Weiber and more than 100 other women makes me feel any less uneasy about her leaving.
The president of USA Gymnastics should be required to travel to the home of every parent and explain why we should trust the people we put in charge to take care of our kids.
He can start with my wife.