Near the start of the Rio Olympics in the summer of 2016, a news article broke about abusive coaches in the USA Gymnastics system.
Shortly after, several women came forward to the news outlet about a team doctor who had been sexually abusive towards them. In 2018 the accused doctor Larry Nassar was tried in court and given a sentence of 60 years in federal prison and a 175-year sentence in a Michigan state prison after he pleaded guilty to only seven counts of sexual assault of minors.
In the film, they stated that there had been at least 150 women who shared statements in court, but there are likely countless others out there.
This film not only addresses the abuse inflicted by Nassar, but also the psychological abuse endured from coaches. The documentary showed Olympians coming forward about competing on severe injuries, developing eating disorders to maintain the petite image of an Olympic gymnast, and feeling as though they couldn't come forward about things that were happening that didn't feel right.
I have watched the movie twice. The first time was emotional, and I had a lot of feelings afterward. So, I re-watched it to get the information all sorted out so that I could provide brief information about the film before you watch it yourself (which I highly recommend).
Overall, I was disgusted. I was part of the USAG system for almost 15 years, and while I wasn't at the level to be directly impacted by Nassar and ex-president Steve Penny, it's still a systematic problem. This trial just makes me wonder how much other stuff got covered up in our community. While both of the men I just mentioned above have been removed from USA Gymnastics, I am worried that not enough has changed. I hope that this has been a wake-up call to any people who hold authority positions in any sport.
I will say, I would not watch this film alone. As stated above, it touches on sexual abuse, psychological abuse, eating disorders, and even some physical abuse. We need to make the sports community a safe space again, as it once was.
For more information about "Athlete A", visit https://athleteafilm.com/.