The Wrangler

A “Perfect” Athlete

Allie Steward, Photojournalist

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Gymnastics, like many other competitive sports, requires a certain level of perfection in order to be even considered good at the sport. This being true, many gymnasts would do almost anything to assure themselves a spot on a good team or even a spot in the olympics. Could this be a reason as to why there is so much sexual misconduct in this particular sport?

In Racine County, a gym named Wind Lakes Gymnastics was found guilty of misconduct. A suspicious parent allerted the local police, who soon searched the gymnasium and was found with multiple hidden cameras and other recording devices. The owner had also been found with child pornography images in the gym (tmj4.com).

James Kivisto, an almost 50 year old man had owned the gym for 11 years. Parents and students were devastated to hear the horrific news. Kivisto was arrested and taken to jail, but no punishment will ever compare to the damage he has done to these families and children.

Just months ago the Larry Nassar incident was released as well. Nassar molested and abused more than 150 girls. Although sadly this is not the only sport that deals with too many sexual abuse incidences, the question arises: why gymnastics?

The biggest possible explanation would be that in gymnastics, you do whatever it takes. These girls (and boys) train their entire lives to get to nationals or the Olympics, gymnastics is all they know. Their entire childhood has been spent in a gym. After 14 years of blood, sweat, and tears, it is not hard to understand why someone would not want to come out and say something that may jeopardize their career (even if it is as severe as an abuse issue.

Another possible reason is fear. It is hard for people to come out and accuse someone of sexual abuse due to pure fear. Having your career on the line is just adding to the mess. Olivia Steward (9) says “professional athletes have a lot going for them, if they come out as a victim and are not believed, their entire career may be ripped away”.

Unfortunately, I believe the saddest, most disturbing factor for gymnastics being a victim of sexual abuse is due to perverted men. Although gymnastics is not a contact sport, there is a lot of physical contact between the coach and the gymnast. Being a coach myself I understand how impossible it is to instruct a student to do something without moving them yourself. The majority of coaches would never touch a child inappropriately, there are disgusting perverts in the world.

Hopefully the gymnastics community can cure this atrocity. If not gymnastics may be seeing its final days as parents, gymnasts, and fans are sick of the misconduct that has gone on.

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