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.

16 comments:

  1. Powerful post. I expect Nasser to face some prison justice soon. I don't have any kids but I imagine it must be terrifying with worry.

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  2. One of my favorite things about NOC is that it is about baseball cards, but more importantly it is about everything else. It is when I read posts like this that I wish I had more time to read everyday. Tough material but well thought out. Thanks for putting into words thoughts that I have trouble sorting out myself.

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  3. Hate to turd on your fine thoughts. Just remember that if you feel it's shitty now, it will only get worse:

    https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/22/us/devos-colleges-sex-assault.html

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  4. I totally get it. 4 daughters, 3 done with college, and 1 just started this semester (her birthday 19th, next Tuesday). Worry, fear, and a number of other things never really leaves. I tried my best to teach them to trust themselves and no one else (excluding me of course). I have to trust them and it is hard but the older 3 held their own, and the youngest actually just moved back to my house is showing the same signs as her sisters, strong and not going to take no BS from anyone. And that is scary all in itself but I trust her, it's everyone else I don't trust, lol. Make sure your little girl knows what you've taught her, and although that doesn't make it any easier for YOU to reassure your wife (I fortunately didn't have to deal with one of those or that situation) that everything is going to be okay, you can always say to her that y'all did your best and worrying is what parents do--ALWAYS. (Buy her some chocolate).

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  5. Great post! I love what you chose to show in pictures and that you left out pics of the monster. Give it some time. The fact that you worry about such things probably gives her a better chance coming from a loving, protective home.

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  6. Man there have been a lot of bad things happening. This one is particularly hard to stomach. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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  7. Thank you for a thoughtful post. As a father of two young girls myself, I'm constantly fearful of the world outside the same confines of home. Congrats to you and your wife for successfully navigating the childhood years of parenthood!

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  8. It's getting a little dusty in here. Well said.

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  9. "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."

    Agree 100% Wrote this on my whiteboard in my classroom as the quote of the day.

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  10. Thank you for this post. I cannot currently relate, but I have a strong desire to have kids someday and I hope to love them as much as you've shown your love for your daughter here. Great post.

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  11. Thanks NO. This hits really close to home having three daughters. Though they're far from the age they will leave home, this is a real concern that I dread facing,

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  12. Well said, Greg. MSU has a LOT to answer for. Their AD quit today and I bet plenty of other State folks will follow.

    On a note related directly to this monster's case...I was shaking my head when I saw that he sent a note to the judge complaining of having to hear all the victims statements. Some days I just don't know what to think.

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  13. This needed to be said, thank you so much for speaking up with this post.

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