Athlete A is insightful and upsetting at the same time and it’s difficult not to wonder how many other organisations out there have the same, silent, systematic problem. It needs to end. Now.
Netflix documentary Athlete A will be released on Netflix on June 24, 2020.
Every single time a documentary unfurls a devastating story of systematic sexual abuse, we ask the question — why? Athlete A is not new. Horrifyingly, it’s become normal in our dark history and it murks the pits of our stomachs. The Netflix documentary proves that change needs to happen now — systems need to be revamped to give victims space where they can speak out without embarrassment or shame; where they do not have to wait years for justice to worm via the cogs.
Athlete A looks at USA Gymnastics and how it turned a blind eye to the sexual abuse towards minors for years while putting medals and wealth above wellbeing. These girls were placed into a system where the behavior against them was being made to feel normal, psychologically inflicted by their dreams, and undermined by adults that are meant to protect them.
Athlete A mirrors the same community-led masking as the Catholic Church and its pandemic of abuse against children. And it was unmasked by journalistic means as well; The Indianapolis Star uncovered the cases where victims were horrifically let down by an organization you’d least expect to encourage such behaviors.
The Netflix documentary draws these comparisons but ultimately focuses on a few of these athletes who have finally got a voice, while zoning in on Larry Nasser, former USA Gymnastics national team doctor who used veiled therapy procedures as a way to carry out the sexual abuse while feeding his arousal. Athlete A focuses on the victim-doctor relationship — one of the athletes felt Larry was the only person who was nice and friendly, which demonstrates the depth of this systematic sexual abuse.
It’s difficult to watch Athlete A without getting angry. The cowardice shown by those in power and the perceived inability to be able to do anything while young girls were trying to achieve their dreams, in environments where injuries were secondary to achievements, is frankly horrific. The Netflix documentary does not approach this in halves and meander around who was at fault and why — it points the fingers at everyone involved in the organization for not speaking up, especially those at the top.
Athlete A is insightful and upsetting at the same time and it’s difficult not to wonder how many other organizations out there have the same, silent, systematic problem. It needs to end. Now.