GYMN-L Digest - 19 Apr 1996 to 20 Apr 1996

There are 2 messages totalling 404 lines in this issue.

Topics of the day:

  1. Oprah Delphi Debate
  2. TBA1 on Delphi USAGO


Date:    Fri, 19 Apr 1996 23:59:04 -0400
From:    ***@AOL.COM
Subject: Oprah Delphi Debate

For those of you who are not also members of Delphi, where USAGO started, I
have been engaged in a debate which I think will be of interest.  The text of
this debate follows here:

 15-APR 23:20 General Gymnastics Info
     RE: Little Girls in Pretty Boxes (Re: Msg 2823)

To all of you, I feel so bad for the girls who were interviewed
and had their comments sliced and diced so that Oprah and Joan
could support their point.

The gymnasts were interviewed for almost 3 hours, and talked
about all the reasons they loved the sport.  The only comments
which were shown were the responses to questions which asked
them to tell the negative side.  Even when they answered these
questions, they had a hard time thinking of things, and were
prodded.  Then if they gave a caveat it was cut off.  One girl
said "Sometimes my coaches make me do things", but they cut off
the end of the sentence "but I know they just want to help me
be better."

It is truly sad that such slanted, unfair reporting is
tolerated.  Unfortunately, unless you have someone as powerful
as Oprah in the media on your side, you are at the whim of the
sensational journalists

 16-APR 00:02 General Gymnastics Info
     RE: Little Girls in Pretty Boxes (Re: Msg 2825)

It's funny you should say that. You own a gym. Of course,
negative information would bother you. I, on the other hand, do
not own a gym, and am not afraid of the awful truth to come
out. I am not worried about losing business.

I read Joan Ryan's book. I believe most of what's in there. You
know why? Not because of her words, but the confirmation I
received from other sources such as TV interviewers,
newspapers, magazines, etc. Do you mean to tell me that they
all lied? Time magazine lied, 60 minutes lied? Countless others

I don't think so. I know that what has been said does not
affect all gymnastics. But on the elite level, there is some of
those horrible things going on. We have to face up to it and
not put our heads in the sand and pray that it goes away. It's
not. And with the Olympics coming up, there will be more
intention focused on it. Remember '92?

 16-APR 21:32 General Gymnastics Info
     RE: Little Girls in Pretty Boxes (Re: Msg 2826)

I read Joan Ryan's book, also.  There was just enough truth
in there to make people think that the whole thing was
factual.  Unfortunately, a little knowledge is a dangerous
thing, and it was very evident to me that this lady has an
agenda that is NOT against the coaches or the parents only,
but seemingly against our beautiful sport.  She has one
in the very beginning of her (poorly written) book which says
she is only talking about elite level gymnastics - and doesn't
really explain the difference or even what that means.

She quotes Kathy Kelly concerning Christie Heinrich and
her "cheerful."  Anyone who spoke to Kathy after the
funeral will tell you she was hardly cheerful:  in a state of
is more like it.

The Oprah show really ignores the fact that USA Gymnastics
seems to be waking up to the problems in our sport
and is trying hard to do something about it.  Christie Phillips
tried her hardest to address that and was shut out.  All
positive comments must be eliminated!

Most people are not aware of how skewed these TV shows can
be, and with the Olympics coming there will be even more of
this negative publicity coming.  Many gyms depend on "Olympic
Year"  enrollment to keep going, and this is a sure-fire way to
lose out and any increase.  Ms. Ryan's comment on the Oprah
that "gymnastics was so much
worse that figure skating" was a real killer, and she gets to
good by coming across as someone who is out to protect pathetic
helpless children.  We need to combat this publicity with as
positive information as possible!

P.S. And yes, I know that there are problems.  Who doesn't have

 16-APR 22:35 General Gymnastics Info
     RE: Little Girls in Pretty Boxes (Re: Msg 2826)

What is so horrible about making a girl repeat a mistake until she gets it
right?  I played basketball in school and the only way to get better was to
practice hard and long hours.  As far as the coach yelling at kids, If you
telling your child to get
something right, don't you sometimes get frustrated and yell.  I believe the
coach is doing the same thing.


 16-APR 23:23 General Gymnastics Info
     RE: Little Girls in Pretty Boxes (Re: Msg 2826)

First off, I do not own a gym, I am simply responsible for
coaching the girls in our program.  It is a gym where we strive
to emphasize the positive values our sport instills,
discipline, making yourself the best you can be, sticking to a
job and following through, responsibility and awareness.

I am also aware, as we all are, that there have been coaches
and programs which sometimes step over the line.  USA
Gymnastics has made it a point to issue guidelines and address
the issues which concern all of us, gymnasts, coaches, parents,
and gym owners.  What saddens me is that the media has  decided
to focus on a very small aspect of our sport, and blow it all
out of proportion, without providing any balance.

It is letters like yours which bother me the most, because it
is clear that you feel that if so many shows are all portraying
the experience in gymnastics as negative, it must be so.  I
wish you could read all the letters I have received, and all
the comments on the Gymnet which are from gymnasts and parents
appalled by this one sided portrayal.  Shows like Oprah do not
want to hear the good side, its not sensational enough.  Even
when they do, it all ends up on the cutting room floor.  I know
this from experience, having been there when our gymnasts were
interviewed, and having had my own comments edited out of the
show to virtual nothingness.

I cannot emphasize enough how Oprah skewed this story to
present Joan Ryan's agenda.  The name of the national newspaper
in the old Soviet Union was called "Pravda" meaning "the
Truth".  We in the United States were always sure that the
population understood that they were receiving misinformation,
but the fact is that if a newspaper or show takes a viewpoint
and promotes it, unless we are presented with the other side,
it is impossible to know the "Truth".  Our media does not have
a communist agenda, but it does have a sensationalist one.
Until we find a way of combatting this with as much public
exposure as shows like 60 Minutes and Oprah have, we will not
have any chance of the Truth being known.

 17-APR 00:36 General Gymnastics Info
     RE: Little Girls in Pretty Boxes (Re: Msg 2829)

It was not my intention to condemn all gymnastics. Certainly
this is not the case. But my point is that some of that stuff
happened. What happened on Oprah Monday is nothing new. It's
been going on since 1992. There have been story after story
about abuses in elite gymnastics. I am a avid gymnastics fan,
but I am not foaming the mouth with rage over what happened on
Oprah. She could have done a whole lot worse.

At least she put Kristie Phillips and Betty Okino on the show.
She could have fished up some other people with a grudge or
some "experts".  I think you should be grateful. She could have
gotten Celle Stack or her mother.  I know Oprah. She can really
put people on the spot.

By the way, was that you speaking in the audience near the end
of the show?
I thought I saw a note from you earlier saying you was in the

 17-APR 20:57 General Gymnastics Info
     RE: Little Girls in Pretty Boxes (Re: Msg 2826)

In today's Chicago Tribune, Oprah was blasted for her one-sided
presentation of the Mad Cow issue.  The American Beef
Association said that everything they said on the show was
ditched on the editing floor, making it seem that they have not
and were not addressing the problem.

This is another clear example of self-serving, one dimensional
reporting.  Oprah almost single handedly caused a 28 point drop
in the dow.  Whatta

 17-APR 23:04 General Gymnastics Info
     RE: Little Girls in Pretty Boxes (Re: Msg 2831)

     It is  of course true that Oprah could have done an even
more outrageous program, but that is not much solace to the
gymnasts in my gym who participated under false pretenses from
the Oprah staff.  These kids were abused by Oprah so that she
could make her point and satisfy her personal agenda.

     If the Oprah people came to us and said, "we are making a
show promoting Joan Ryan's book, and we would like you to
participate", we would have refused outright.  So they used
subterfuge, lied to us, and cut all our attempts at presenting
any balance to the agenda Ms. Ryan is promoting.

     I do not deny that there have been abuses at the Elite
level in our sport, but they are I feel the exception, rather
than a commonplace occurrence.  The show Oprah put on leads the
audience to believe all programs are like this, and that the
sport itself is bad for kids.  Witness her comment at the end
of the show, "if you have children in Gymnastics or Figure
Skating, watch out!".  Does she say Elite Gymnastics? No.
     People say, well, we see the positive side all the time
when gymnastics competitions are shown on TV.  I do not agree
with this, all we see are good athletes who compete at high
level.  We NEVER  see the true good side of gymnastics, all the
small clubs which provide a warm, fun environment for kids,
where they can make friends, get some healthy physical
activity, and maybe do some age group competing.  What show
like Oprah's do is make parents fearful that if they enroll
their child at the local Flip City gym club, they are either
going to turn their child into an anorexic basket case, or be
wheeling her home from the hospital due to the dangerous skills
we teach.

The fact is neither of these outcomes is very likely, they have
a whole lot bigger chance of ending up in a car wreck in the
family car or being struck by lightening.  If it were in fact
true that this happenned regularly, gym clubs would not be able
to insure.  Finally, why focus on gymnastics and figure
skating, what about Pee Wee football, Hockey and all those
contact sports little boys get involved in?  In speaking with a
gymnastics coach and owner who also is a lawyer, his reading of
the book detected a strong sexist overtone.  I think there is a
lot of this going on here.

And, oh yes, that was me you saw trying to get heard at the end
of the show.  I had to stand up and interrupt the proccedings
to do it, and 95% of what I said was cut out.  It wasn't in the
script, you know.

 18-APR 23:04 General Gymnastics Info
     RE: Little Girls in Pretty Boxes (Re: Msg 2833)

Yes, I will admit that some of the "controversy" has been
pumped by people who have less that an honest, sincere intent.
And yes, I know Oprah is known for sensationalism, especially
in some areas. And yes, I will admit the maybe Joan Ryan may
have had a sexist (anti-male) slant to her book. And yes, I
know that 95% of all RECREATIONAL gymnastics is abusive,
horrible, etc.

I will not argue against any of the above. The problem I have
and MANY other people have is that a lot of people involved in
gymnastics (Coaches, gym owners, even USA gymnastics) want to
cover up those abuses that really happened. This is why I
receive countless e-mail telling me that they agree with me and
that they are concerned about what going on in the gyms.

Why doesn't anyone involved with the sport go public and
denouced what has happened? Instead in EVERY newsgroup,
bulletin board, etc, all I hear from people involved with the
sport, like you, scream bloody murder when things are discussed
like the Oprah Winfrey show.

Hey, man, this whole story has been in the news since the 1992
Olympics. Remember the articles in TIME magazine? People became
concerned when they saw our gymnasts, our girls, looking tired,
burned-out, and just terrible. That's why everybody started
asking questions.  Before then, you didn't hear anything about
it.  And when they starting looking for answers, they found
them. We found out "the great" Bela Karolyi, who I believe
happens to be the 1996 Olympic women's team's coach, was almost
brutal to his gymnasts. It was covered up. Nobody wants to deal
with that.

 18-APR 23:56 General Gymnastics Info
     RE: Little Girls in Pretty Boxes (Re: Msg 2826)

   There are bad Coaches, bad Preachers, and bad Parents. Let everyone know
about them...But for Gods sakes...tell the good side at the same time. IM A

 19-APR 00:10 General Gymnastics Info
     RE: Little Girls in Pretty Boxes (Re: Msg 2834)

! Opra and "all the others" dont talk about this issue they "tell" as if they
know all of the facts. You are blind to that, spend less time watching Opra
go spend time in your local Gym.

 19-APR 01:01 General Gymnastics Info
     RE: Little Girls in Pretty Boxes (Re: Msg 2834)

     You are saying that people in gymnastics do not decry the
abuses, and have not responded to the problems?  That is just
baloney.  In response to the issues, USA gymnastics developed
the triad and has worked to educate and inform the community
about the problems we have experienced.

No coach I have ever talked to approves of abusive methods in
developing their gymnasts.  I for one will state for the record
that any coach who berates  the athletes into performing skills
is an idiot and deserves to be driven from the sport.  But will
I, on the basis of 3rd party reports, say a particular coach is
such an abuser?  No, because not being in that gym and having
direct observation of what is going on, I cannot know that it
is true.  In legal terms, this sort of evidence is called

Parents who have been unhappy with the outcomes their children
experienced have stood up and said they thought their children
were mistreated, and named the coaches responsible.  That is
THEIR  right and responsibility.  What is sad is that all the
parents who have stood up and said "My child has had a
wonderful experience in gymnastics" are ignored, because having
a good healthy experience is not sensational and newsworthy

So, why do we post these messages and responses on bulletin
boards?  Because we are being attacked without being given the
opportunty to adequately respond.  All the media needs to do is
to give us an equal chance to present the good side of our
sport, which so outweighs the bad side in numbers and in
overall benefit.  Why is this so hard?  If those in the media
were truly interested in fair reporting, and not just ratings
or circulation, that would not be a very hard thing to do.  I
could give you the names of 100 parents who would tomorrow sit
down and interview on all the wonderful things gymnastics has
done for their child.  Would anyone in the media give them 15
inches of print or 15 minutes of national airplay?  Not on your

 19-APR 20:57 General Gymnastics Info
     RE: Little Girls in Pretty Boxes (Re: Msg 2839)

   Nice responce...Thanks

 19-APR 22:14 General Gymnastics Info
     RE: Little Girls in Pretty Boxes (Re: Msg 2839)

Amen.  Thank you for trying to defend our sport in an
arena overwhelmingly slanted against you.  You are
doing a great job - keep up the good work.


Date:    Sat, 20 Apr 1996 01:27:13 -0400
From:    ***@AOL.COM
Subject: TBA1 on Delphi USAGO

>The problem I have and MANY other people have is that a lot of people
involved in
>gymnastics (Coaches, gym owners, even USA gymnastics) want to
>cover up those abuses that really happened. This is why I
>receive countless e-mail telling me that they agree with me and
>that they are concerned about what going on in the gyms.

I am going to go out on a limb and guess this is Garlfar Andrews
(, but if it isn't than I apologize Garlfar, you have a clone
out there.

>From the messages he's written here and on other services, I gather he has
some firsthand knowledge of the abuses in gymnastics, and I hope they are
firsthand, not from the media.

My question to him is:  Why don't you become an advocate to the gymnasts of
the United States and serve the Elites and the 95% of recreational gymnasts
(your figure, not mine) that are being abused?  Since you're not a coach,
gymnast, or gym owner, you're not a threat to the athletes who want to report
their abuse.

Better yet, with the growing number of supporters you say you've acquired,
couldn't you form a task force and uncover these wrongs for good?  Geraldo is
big on that kind of investigative sensationalized journalism...but then
again, remember the Capone vault?


End of GYMN-L Digest - 19 Apr 1996 to 20 Apr 1996