Take a look around the American sports landscape, and you’ll see countless stories about Championship Sunday, MLB trades, and the playing of tribute videos for current and former NBA players. Just your typical, ho-hum, hot-take kind of week.
But you might not see or hear too many stories about Larry Nassar.
And that’s a problem.
“I’m continually baffled, not only at the lack of coverage in the media – and I’m part of that, though this isn’t the first time we’ve talked about this topic on my show – but I’m confused about the lack of outrage, the cries for blood, the social-media mob calling for action,” CBS Sports Radio host Amy Lawrence began on After Hours with Amy Lawrence. “Because this story, with USA Gymnastics and Michigan State athletics is no different than what happened at Penn State. It’s not that different than what happened with Baylor football. And the second anyone says Penn State football, the second anyone talks about Baylor football these days, instantly the backlash. Instantly the tweets. Sadly, the jokes. But still, people aren’t letting it go, they’re not moving on, they’re not forgetting – and they shouldn’t.”
Nassar, who is in jail on child pornography charges, has pled guilty to 10 counts of first-degree criminal sexual assault. His total number of victims, however, is reportedly 140 – and could be higher.
“Why (is there) not the same outrage for the now 140 young women who have bravely come forward to say they were sexually abused by a former doctor for USA Gymnastics and for Michigan State athletics?” Lawrence wondered. “Why not?”
Simone Biles, Aly Raisman, Jordyn Wieber, McKayla Maroney, and Gabby Douglas are among Nassar’s alleged victims.
Why didn’t they come forward sooner, you ask? Many reasons.
“I don’t blame the victims,” Lawrence said. “It’s hard to come forward. It’s devastating. It’s embarrassing. It’s humiliating. You wonder if it’s your fault. You don’t want to talk about it. You think if you don’t talk about it, it will go away. But also, who’s going to believe you? And you so desperately want to compete. You’re in danger of losing everything that you’ve worked for – all of those emotions. And so, it takes bravery for these young women to stand there in court and face this monster. I’m proud of them. They’re not all famous. They didn’t all win gold medals like Aly and Simone and McKayla and Gabby. They’re not all names you know. Most of them were in the system for a while, college athletes, and they’ve tried to move on – and now finally getting a chance to tell their story.
“But here’s the thing,” Lawrence continued. “It shouldn’t be this week. It shouldn’t have taken this long. Larry Nassar was allowed access to these little girls and young women for decades. I want people to get mad about it. I want people to be as upset and outraged and be calling for changes as loudly as they did with Penn State and with Baylor football.”
Thus far, however, that hasn’t been the case. The Nassar story, it seems, has been lost in the sports-media shuffle.
“Why isn’t there that same outrage, that same anger, that same uproar at USA Gymnastics?” Lawrence asked. “Steve Penny resigned. He was the president of USA Gymnastics, and he resigned his post. But there are many, many other people inside USA Gymnastics that heard about the accusations, their stories, that these things were reported and nothing was done – and then Larry Nassar just continued to have unfettered access to these little girls and young women. There needs to be sweeping change. There needs to be a total cleaning of the house – like there was at Penn State from the top down. Everybody needs to go. Start over. Your reputation is ruined.”
Unless or until that happens, USA Gymnastics has zero credibility.
“If it’s my little girl, if it’s my niece, if it’s someone that I care about, I’m not letting them anywhere near USA Gymnastics until these changes are made,” Lawrence said. “Because honestly, as amazing as it is to see them on the stage and perform the way they do – even while hiding abuse and suffering through abuse – it’s not worth it. Read the statements from Simone Biles. Hear what Aly Raisman has to say about how USA Gymnastics hasn’t shown up at these hearings, hasn’t asked her how she’s doing, hasn’t offered counseling. We get statement after statement about how they’re heartbroken and they’re sad, but do you know what’s going to make a difference? If people get pissed. If people get mad.
“The social-media mob mentality, man, sometimes it’s a waste of energy on things that don’t matter a bit,” Lawrence continued. “This matters. It matters. And Michigan State shouldn’t be out from underneath the microscope, either. Michigan State should also have to pay. There should be an investigation – and not one while the jackass is still working. He was still working and they were ‘investigating’ – paying people off to keep quiet. No, you’re just as guilty.
“The light needs to expose the darkness at USA Gymnastics and at Michigan State – because Larry Nassar shouldn’t be the only one who goes to jail for this. Larry Nassar shouldn’t be the only one who’s prosecuted. Too many women – 140 daughters, sisters, nieces, granddaughters, friends, 140 athletes – had their lives changed forever. And there were probably more. So I hope that you get angry about it. Use social media. Read about it. Inform yourself. Because this is the biggest sports story in America. And it shouldn’t be over once he’s sentenced.”