USA Gymnastics Tries But Fails To Execute The Rare Triple Down Maneuver

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Sam Wilkinson

According to a faithful reader, I'm Ordinary Times's "least thoughtful writer." So I've got that going for me, which is nice.

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  1. Seems to me you have a pool of fierce knowledgeable women who could run or at least have a senior position in USAG in Raisman, Biles and and Lorincz.Report

    • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Mike Siegel says:

      Agreed, lots of people who could fix things. But the leadership at USAG need to keep things contained in the rarified corners, because their positions are at risk if an outside agitator got their hand on the tiller and decided to excise the root.Report

    • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to Mike Siegel says:

      @mike-siegel It does seem wild that USAG continues going back to the same well. Why not find somebody who has not, and cannot, be accused of having covered for Nassar? Hell, how about a search committee that at least includes women who endured Nassar’s abuse?Report

  2. Avatar Pinky says:

    “Woman CEO Railroaded Out of Leadership Position Over Her Politics and Guilt By Association”

    Would that be the headline if she had “(D-CA)” after her name?Report

    • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to Pinky says:

      @pinky No chance. She worked for a law firm that covered for Larry Nassar and enabled his abuse. She would have come in for precisely the same criticism. As she should have.Report

      • Avatar Pinky in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

        But you said that there’s no reason to believe that she worked on the case. How is that different from holding you responsible for Will’s articles?Report

        • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to Pinky says:

          @pinky She worked for a law firm that covered for Larry Nassar’s abuse. It does not matter if she was personally involved. It matters that USAG thought that this was not an issue at all. It matters that USAG did not even consider what sort of message this would be sending to its athletes.Report

          • Avatar Oscar Gordon in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

            Ergo, it’s a question of optics.

            Bono may have been perfectly competent to help the org recover from the scandal(s), if she appeared to be aware of, and actively working to overcome those optics.

            Instead, she seems to have been acting as if this is mostly a side gig she didn’t need to pay too much attention to. Which is fine, lots of powerful people have such side gigs. But USAG doesn’t need a person working a side gig, they need a dedicated and conscientious HMFIC.Report

          • Avatar Dave in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

            Sam Wilkinson: She worked for a law firm that covered for Larry Nassar’s abuse. It does not matter if she was personally involved. It matters that USAG thought that this was not an issue at all. It matters that USAG did not even consider what sort of message this would be sending to its athletes.

            It’s a sad world when things like this need to be explained to people.Report

          • Avatar Pinky in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

            Define the standard. I don’t see any failure on her part with regard to Nassar, neither direct nor indirect, nor any appearance of impropriety. Is USAG to blame? Is Bono to blame? If so, in either case: for what?Report

            • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to Pinky says:

              @pinky The USAG is obviously directly to blame. It is the organization that chose Bono. It is the organization that again asserted that it knew best, when it is plainly obvious to everybody else on Earth that they should not be trusted to decide anything. It apparently did not occur to them that anybody might wonder whether trusting the law firm that had enabled the abuse of at least 40 women might was actually worth trusting. And again, even if Bono had nothing to do with what FBD had done for Nassar, it is still entirely reasonable for the organization’s gymnasts to ask how in the hell it was possible that somebody from the same firm was going to be trusted with oversight of the USAG. (That Bono seemingly had no good answer – saying, “I looked the other way when I witnessed abuse when I was younger, so you should have trusted me now!” is, uhh, unconvincing on its own – is evidence of how poor a fit she was going to be.)Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                “it is still entirely reasonable for the organization’s gymnasts to ask how in the hell it was possible that somebody from the same firm was going to be trusted with oversight of the USAG”

                Why?Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                Speaking of standards, what am I to make of this:

                “saying, ‘I looked the other way when I witnessed abuse when I was younger, so you should have trusted me now!’ is, uhh, unconvincing on its own”

                ETA: Actually I don’t know if I have to add anything, but just for clarity, if you’re saying that ignoring an earlier assault makes a woman unqualified to lead, are you willing to apply that universally? Wouldn’t you be appalled by this standard in any other context?Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to Pinky says:

                @pinky “a woman” is not the same thing as “Mary Bono” who is the specific person being discussed. She is using as evidence of her competence that she responded to abuse in the exact same way that the USAG did. That is neither exculpatory nor a reason to trust her. If anything, it is a reason to be dubious of her.

                As for you continuing to not see what the problem is with trusting a lawyer from a law firm that enabled abuse, I don’t know what to tell you. Do you genuinely believe that gymnasts should trust a lawyer from an apparently amoral law firm to have their best interests at heart?Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                “Amoral law firm”? The idea that a law firm’s morality can be judged by the actions of one member/team is the fallacy of divsion. The idea that a law firm’s morality can be applied to each lawyer is the fallacy of composition. You’ve committed both of them, by saying that the Nassar case tells you about FBD’s morality, which in turn tells you about Bono’s morality.Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                “A woman” is not the same thing as “Mary Bono”. Agreed. But if you can’t enunciate a standard which applies to all women, how can you apply that standard to Mary Bono? Again, we’re back to basic logic.Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to Pinky says:

                @pinky I think it is beyond neat that you cannot bring yourself to judge an organization that decides that enabling abuse is more important than preventing it. I, however, am not burdened by such nonsense, and so I am still able to look at what FBD did as the monstrousness that it obviously is.

                As for Bono – since you believe so deeply in her ability to successfully do the job despite everything she has already shown us – can you explain why gymnasts owed her their trust in her ability to properly execute the job, given exactly what had happened?Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                @pinky (And while I’m at it, I don’t give a damn about your debate club nonsense. What Bono did actually matters – which included voluntarily sticking with a law firm that enabled the abuse of at least forty women – and pretending otherwise is something I won’t be wasting my time on.)Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                “since you believe so deeply in her ability to successfully do the job despite everything she has already shown us”

                False dichotomy: I never said she could do the job.

                “debate club nonsense”

                Ad hominem.

                “and pretending otherwise is something I won’t be wasting my time on”

                Ignoratio elenchi.Report

              • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to Pinky says:

                “false dichotomy”

                Nah. But, if you genuinely are not here to argue in favor of her, then what are you doing?

                “Ad hominem”

                Don’t care. If you want to discuss the substance of the situation, let’s do that. If you want to subject everything to a set of rules that I never agreed to, why waste our time?

                “Ignoratio elenchi”

                Debate club nonsense.Report

              • Avatar Dave in reply to Sam Wilkinson says:

                Sam,

                I suppose this is what happens when someone with no grasp of the real world or public relations tries to participate in an adult conversation where working knowledge of both is required.

                Ack, ad hominem!!!Report

        • Avatar J_A in reply to Pinky says:

          But you said that there’s no reason to believe that she worked on the case. How is that different from holding you responsible for Will’s articles?

          Real lawyers in this forum, that who practiced in large firms are invited to comment, but, in my experience, it is standard that when one lawyer or law office associated with a larger firm takes in a new client or case -even with an existing client-, a firm wide search is made to check any past interaction the firm has had in any capacity with the new client or the parties in the new case, to detect any potential conflict of interest.

          I’ve had firms that I’ve been a client for years refuse to take a new case because it would pit me against another customer of them, and I’ve personally signed many waiver of potential conflict letters, because they had been engaged in some six degrees of separation unrelated transaction with someone at sometime that could potentially be in conflict with me. If anything, large firms may take weeks to clear any possible appearance of conflict.

          Doesn’t matter that Ms. Bono worked in a different area in a different office, I would have expected her to raise the Nasar defense as a potential conflict and require a written waiver from USAG before taking the position.

          If she did raise the issue, and USAG formally waived the conflict, it speaks volumes about USAG’s cluelessness. If she didn’t raise the issue, proper lawyers here are invited to comment about whether it raises to a professional ethics matter that could be reviewable by the Bar.Report

  3. Avatar LeeEsq says:

    Unless USA Gymnastics is engaging in some incredibly vile trolling, hiring a former Republican Congressperson is a tone deaf and not very wise decision on their part. It comes across as saying that the real important thing is to keep pushing young girls into gymnastic superstardom and fighting their sexual abuse and other exploitation is a very distant second. It would not surprise me if many of the higher ups in USA Gymnastics really did not learn anything from the Nasser scandal and still believe that getting Olympic medals and other awards is paramount. There are terribly cynical people like this. People who put glory over everything else and believe any suffering in pursuit of said glory is a good thing. They are evil.Report

  4. Avatar Kolohe says:

    Like Bailes pointed out, it takes a rare talent to alienate both rank&file membership *and* sponsors. Normally you’re put in a situation where you have to alienate one to win favor of the other (and that’s normally the sponsors, because money talks).Report

  5. I know it’s wholly tangential to the actual story, but I can’t get over her resignation latter itself. Shouldn’t lawyers be able to write better copy than that? I guess not, but it still surprises me:

    With respect to Mr. Kaepernick, he nationally exercised his first amendment right to kneel

    Report

    • Avatar Sam Wilkinson in reply to Vikram Bath says:

      @vikram-bath That she only wanted to address Kaepernick, as opposed to her association with the law firm that covered for Nassar, gives her game away. She had no way to explain that relationship. So she focused on what she could score (extremely undeserved) political points about instead.Report

  6. Avatar Stillwater says:

    Whoa. From ESPN:

    Former USA Gymnastics president Steve Penny was arrested Wednesday after a Texas grand jury indicted him, alleging he tampered with evidence in the sexual assault investigation of now-imprisoned gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar.
    ….
    The indictment alleges Penny ordered the removal of documents from the Karolyi Ranch — a longtime training ground near Huntsville for the country’s elite gymnasts — relating to Nassar’s activities there. It alleges Penny acted after learning that Texas Rangers and Walker County authorities were investigating the ranch, which was being managed by USA Gymnastics.

    Report

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