I follow gymnastics. And even if I didn’t right now, you’d have to be oblivious to the horrors that are finally being addressed (don’t even get me started here) in the sport. And with that, more and more are finding their courage and their voice and their strength to speak out. And among that, people are speaking out against coaches. Claims of verbal and mental abuse. And it makes you ask the very simple question – how does one person of power hold so much sway over a young person’s life and gymnastics career? And then I must ask, is this specific to gymnastics? How is that small piece of it any different than my experience in grad school. So I ask the very simple question again – how does one person of power hold so much sway over a young person’s life and career?
I never claimed clarity with this blog. I don’t pretend to understand what these women are going through. But I can understand concepts. I can understand the fear of speaking up about things that are so far on the other side of ‘unfair’ for risk of how that will affect your future. Your career. Your livelihood. But how there is a system set up that does not provide a realistic alternative path to address matters. All the power is with one person. It’s twisted. And to be blunt, it’s fucked up. To put in hours of sweat and tears and hard work. To be broken down by the people who on paper, should be the person who pushes you and guides you. To be abused by the person who is supposed to teach you. That, I understand. To take the thing that brings you joy, and to suck the joy out of it, to the point where you need space form it because it literally makes you sick when you think about it. That, I understand.
There are many places where the balance of power is pretty much exactly not that. There is no balance. None. And I can’t be the only one who struggles with exactly how to address this. How do you create real meaningful change? How do you do this without affecting those who still rely on the current system? How do we speak out and be heard?