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(trigger warning) Athlete A - Netflix

(14 Posts)
JasperRising Sun 28-Jun-20 22:17:16

(tw - this programme includes details of abuse)

Has anyone else watched Athlete A on Netflix (about USA gymnastics sexual abuse scandal). It is absolutely horrific that such a culture of physical and emotional abuse was allowed to thrive, to the extent that a sexual abuser could present himself as the nice kind guy. And then for it all to be covered up in the name of protecting a brand and winning medals.

The women in it are so composed. Maggie Nichols (athlete a)'s dad has such sad eyes, like he still can't process what has happened.

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jay55 Sun 28-Jun-20 23:01:49

I'll be honest I've put off watching it. I've followed the whole scandal, as a big gymnastics fan, and not sure I can face it right now.

It's so horrible re framing so many of the women's post elite careers through a trauma lense. And that things are so far from better, the lack of investigation by usag, the survivors compensation still up in the air, Steve Penny out on bail, the number of shitty coaches still in jobs....

jay55 Tue 30-Jun-20 15:40:30

Have watched now, wasn't as difficult as I expected as there wasn't anything new to me in it.

I was surprised that they didn't say much about the much earlier reports about Larry, until the reporter said that it was usag they were after.

Also during the trial Larry wrote a letter to the judge complaining that listening to the impact statements was too difficult and affecting his health. It was insane. I guess minimising his voice and raising the survivors was the right call.

I hate that Maggie didn't get to finish her final season in college because of covid, just think she deserves so many cheering crowds and confetti canons.

AncientRainbowABC Wed 01-Jul-20 00:23:29

Watched this.

Such a powerful documentary, but maybe felt incomplete or under-told in places somehow. Perhaps that’s because some investigations are still ongoing. I need to read up about it more.

Undeniably brave women and really humbling to watch the end part with their statements. The bit at the end where someone says that this is something that’s been stolen from their whole lives, not just a moment/their childhood memories, that it’s an ongoing struggle, really struck me.

There was also an interesting parallel for me with the recent Michael Jackson documentary: in both children were taken from their parents and put up in luxury accommodation without contact essentially “for their own benefit”. In both they were failed, and those poor parents.

SchadenfreudePersonified Wed 01-Jul-20 20:21:48

I've noticed it but put off watching it. I want to, but I'm frightened by it.

I'm going to steel myself to it, though.

JasperRising Wed 01-Jul-20 23:13:37

@SchadenfreudePersonified it is certainly not an easy watch but if you read the news reports then, as Jay says, you are likely to be familiar with a lot of the content. I think it is an important documentary though because USAG is such an important organisation that was trusted by parents (it is chilling to wonder if there are other scandals still to emerge in other organisations) and because it isn't fully resolved.

I wouldn't say I was a big gymnastics fan but it has always been one of my favourite sports to watch at the Olympics. As you say Jay it does make you say it does change how I view some of the past performances at the Olympics and the women's subsequent careers when you know what was happening to them. But I don't want that to stop me from appreciating their achievements and talents (whether they were Olympians or not), if that makes sense.

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MoveConfused Wed 01-Jul-20 23:20:15

As a gymnastics follower I was also familiar with what had happened but am glad I watched it - as a reminder of what these athletes went through, as a reminder to my self as a parent to not dismiss what children say and also as a reminder to tell children to be aware of what is and isn’t acceptable. But I do get that these children and athletes were not in a place where they could complain. Heartbreaking but important. Rachael Denhollander, Maggie and the others who came forward were amazingly brave knowing how much flack they would take for that as well as what they had suffered.

MrsJamin Thu 02-Jul-20 17:25:03

I don't follow gymnastics very closely so it was all news to me. What seems so odd is that Larry was so full of shit as a doctor, why did USAG insist that he remain? Surely there were so many other physicians who could do his job? I wonder whether he had so much shit on them that they had to keep him in a role? It doesn't make any sense why they would protect him over the safety of their competitors, unless they had more to lose than just his skills if they'd actually investigated the accusations properly?

jay55 Thu 02-Jul-20 22:14:49

They didn't want to protect the girls from him. They didn't give a shit. Hence no one giving MSU a heads up when he was let go by usag.

But yes he knew where a lot of bodies were buried, he used that to manipulate the girls and probably keep his job. There still hasn't been a proper investigation into what happened and how and who knew what, when. And that would surely answer the why he was team doctor for so long when he was ineffective.

His boss at MSU was also arrested for indecent images of students. Kathy Klages the MSU coach who dismissed complaints about him in the 90s has been found guilty of lying to the police. John Geddert (Jordan Wieber's coach and long time friend of Larry) was under investigation by the police too but I'm not sure what has come of that. So his inner circle was all totally evil.

To an extent in the USA, one girl is injured they have a bunch to take their place, the girls were always disposable.

jcurve Thu 02-Jul-20 22:26:13

I watched it but thought it fell flat. They laboured Maggie’s non-selection for the US team and it detracted from the bigger message. Denhollander is a phenomenal woman.

I recommend the book Start By Believing as it’s a much better account.

SchadenfreudePersonified Fri 03-Jul-20 19:00:57

Thanks for the book recommendation jcurve

I've just watched it and agree with all you say. I don't know if Maggie was given "star" billing because she was the first complainant, AND went on to do well in gymnastics after the case (unless I've mistaken this - I was watching and busy with house stuff, so not fully concentrating)

Denhollander is amazing. I did get the impression though, that probably due to what had happened to her, she was very very controlled.

JasperRising Sat 04-Jul-20 09:19:38

My impression was that they focussed on Maggie Nichols because she was the key to revealing recent cover ups by USAG at the top level- Denhollander had the evidence about Nassar but wasn't involved with elite level and the other women hadn't recently reported an incident to USAG. I read somewhere that the documentary makers worked with the IndyStar (and were already filming when the huge numbers of women started coming forward about Nassar) and the newspaper's focus was on USAG as a whole. That might also explain why there was a slight unfinished feel to the documentary because that side of the newspaper's investigation is still unresolved.

I guess it may also have been felt that Maggie Nichols is the athlete who the general public are most likely to have heard of - particular younger viewers of the programme.

I agree about Denhollander seeming very controlled - an incredibly poised woman with a definite public image. And entirely understandable when she has put herself in the public eye knowing how much women are torn apart and scrutinised in any case involving sexual assault.

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SchadenfreudePersonified Sat 04-Jul-20 11:54:58

an incredibly poised woman with a definite public image. And entirely understandable when she has put herself in the public eye knowing how much women are torn apart and scrutinised in any case involving sexual assault.

Absolutely - it takes tremendous courage to go public with something like this. It affects not only thee woman or girls who is making the complaint, but their entire family - and if it's a woman with children the repercussions on those children can be huge.

I was so impressed with her. With all of them - but especially her.

AncientRainbowABC Sat 04-Jul-20 18:45:06

Couldn’t agree more re: Denhollander.

Also some of the abuse they got for speaking out, the documentary showed some of the comments, I was just staggered. A lot of it didn’t even make sense or relate to their claims, the comments were just gratuitously vile. That was such an eye opener for me, the mindlessness of it.

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