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Rhythmic Gymnastics coaching, what we strive to improve? Reflections on Netflix's Athlete A

Athlete A has become a hugely popular documentary since it's release on Netflix on June 24th of 2020. While the main focus of the story is Dr. Larry Nassar's sexual abuse of young gymnasts, it raises awareness about the coach-athlete abusive culture in the world of gymnastics in general. Directed by Bonni Cohen and Jon Shenk, the film follows Steve Berta, Marisa Kwiatkowski, Mark Alesia, and Tim Evans as they investigated and broke the story of USA Gymnastics' negligent treatment of their female gymnastics champions.

“Athlete A” makes the telling point that the Károlyi method was, itself, a form of abuse. The girls who were subjected to it had to steel themselves, in an almost Stockholm Syndrome way, to the sadistic rigors of their training. So it’s only natural that they ended up numbing themselves to even more devastating forms of abuse. “Athlete A” is a testament to their perseverance, and to the courage of all those who stood up in court to face the man who had violated their humanity. But it’s also a testament to the obsession that gave cover to their abuse — to a culture that wanted winners at any cost.

-Owen Gleiberman for