The following article originally appeared in Juniata High School's newspaper The Arrowhead.
News from the world of elite gymnastics usually pertains to gold medals and upcoming new stars for the next summer olympics. Unfortunately, that hasn’t been the recent attention in gymnastics. I am sure you have heard of the Larry Nassar trial that has been on the news now for quite some time. New allegations have been made, and now after the long trial, Nassar is now sentenced to 175 years in prison. When the allegations started being made against Larry Nassar there were only a few women making them. Now, over 265 people have accused Larry Nassar of sexual assault while being his patients.
Nassar was a former team doctor for the USA Gymnastics Team, Twistars Gymnastics ( an elite club gym) and University of Michigan’s Gymnastics Team. The allegations against him now go back to 1973 and go up until today. The testimonies of almost 300 people were heard in a courtroom in Michigan all winter long. Some of his victims speaking out are just fifteen years of age, many of whom used to call Larry a “friend”, “mentor”, and “World doctor,” are now calling him a “master of manipulation” and “monster”. McKayla Maroney was among one of the first to take action against Nassar. Maroney says that before the 2012 London Olympics her Mother went to the USA Gymnastics Board about Nassar, and they assured her actions were being taken. Aly Raisman, one of the first to accuse Nassar of sexual misconduct is now suing the USA Gymnastics company and the United States Olympic Committee for failing to take action when she made the original allegations against him.
Nassar is in jail for the rest of his life, but change is still being demanded in every way possible. Olympic gymnast Shawn Johnson is demanding that the USAG, University of Michigan, and the USOC rewrite their rules about protocol for this type of situation to make sure nothing like this will ever happen again. Simone Biles, also one of Nassar’s victims, is saying she is not proud to be apart of the USAG organization because they failed to keep their athletes safe, when that is something they pride themselves in doing. Tragically, the list can go on and on with names of gymnasts and their families affected by this situation.
If you are interested in learning more, I encourage you to research more about the case and watch some of the videos from the trial. The bottom line is, change will be coming to gymnastics and the sport’s world. How was it allowed to happen for so long? Why were the allegations ignored? Is there a way to ever get over this kind of tragedy? There are still plenty of questions to be answered. I believe that Christina Barba (one of Nassar’s victims) said it the best, “ We know that a single candle can light up a whole room. Imagine what all these flames can do. We will not live in darkness. We will burn brightly.”