January 24, 2018

USA Gymnastics Sponsors

To the sponsors pulling their support of USA Gymnastics:

I get it. Like the executives of your companies, I’ve watched as dozens of young women detailed the horror they experienced under the guise of medical treatment by the USA Gymnastics team doctor, Larry Nassar. And you don’t want to be associated with that story. You don’t want your big brand name connected with this pedophile rapist. Totally understand your position.

Your brands are wholesome and all-American. They’re brands that evoke innocence (Ivory and Tide from Proctor & Gamble), healthy eating (Kellogg’s), and pushing through (Under Armour) knowing you can reward your hard work (Hershey’s). These are America’s brands! I know each of these companies have strong reputations to uphold and don’t want to be connected with something as horrible as the serial molestation of dozens of girls. Totally get it. I think most of us do.

However, I wish y’all would reconsider pulling your sponsorship of USA Gymnastics. I don’t fault you for wanting to distance yourself from the governing body, USA Gymnastics, that seemingly turned a blind eye to what this monster did to these women when they were just little girls trying to reach the pinnacle of their sport. If I was a sponsor I’d probably want to get as far away from this story as possible.

By withdrawing your financial support of these amazing athletes you’re making it even harder for them to succeed. Parents are already making huge financial sacrifices. But those sacrifices aren’t going to fund the major competitions, coaches, gyms, travel, and the countless other professionals these girls need to compete at this elite level. The years of support you’ve given to USA Gymnastics allowed so many young girls to train and compete at the highest level. Your financial support is what helped these women become the Magnificent Seven, the Fierce Five, and the Final Five. Without corporate sponsors many of these young women would never have had the opportunity to represent the USA and capture the hearts, and medals, as they did.

With nearly 150,000 athletes registered as members, USA Gymnastics oversees six disciplines: Women’s Gymnastics, Men’s Gymnastics, Trampoline and Tumbling, Rhythmic Gymnastics, Acrobatic Gymnastics and Gymnastics for All. USA Gymnastics isn’t only about the 10 men and women who make the US Olympic teams. Kids all over the country look to compete in the thousands of sanctioned competitions, trying to get better, pushing the limits of their bodies and physics.

Walking away from your sponsorships, each of your companies is allowing one man to continue his reign of devastation on the sport of gymnastics. USA Gymnastics screwed up. Big time! Everyone who believed this horrible man instead of these young women needs to be banned from the sport. USA Gymnastics needs to clean house and ensure that those who run the program can’t allow this to happen ever again. Make those demands, but don’t stop supporting these athletes. Put restrictions in place and demand better oversight. USA Gymnastics owes apologies to so many people. Including all your companies who financially supported the morally bankrupt former leadership of USA Gymnastics.

Like all of us, you deserve answers. But you have a power we don’t have. Millions of dollars. Your support can demand the change the sport needs. Your money can forge a new path of leadership. And your money can also create opportunities for a new generation of strong and brave girls.

Hershey’s, Kellogg’s, Proctor & Gamble, Under Armour, AT&T, and any other sponsors who are withdrawing financial support of USA Gymnastics, I ask you to reconsider. You can’t change the past, but you can change the future. By withdrawing your support, you’re allowing Nassar’s actions to continue to have a place in USA Gymnastics. He doesn’t deserve that power. He doesn’t deserve to destroy the entire sport. If you didn’t listen to each of the women speak, I urge you to take the time. Each of these women was brave to come forward and one by one join together to combine their strength, not just for themselves, but also for many who can’t. For their peers who either can’t speak or are unable. These women came forward to stop a predator. By withdrawing your support for the sport they love, you’re telling them you’re not brave enough. You’re taking the easy way out and distancing yourself, from what you think is a system that allowed their nightmare.

Why can’t you see that by continuing to support USA Gymnastics you’re not part of the problem, you’re part of the solution. Sponsoring USA Gymnastics shows that you believe in the athlete. That you believe these young people deserve the opportunity to rise to the pinnacle of the sport. Your continued sponsorship is not an endorsement of a failed system, it’s a demonstration that you stand with these survivors. Don’t make this about Larry Nassar and his enablers. Instead, understand that your support of USA Gymnastics can be a statement of support for the athletes who did nothing wrong.

I ask you to reconsider despite having nothing to gain personally.  I’m not a former gymnast nor the parent of a gymnast. I’m someone who buys your products, though. I’m someone who watches your commercials and gets a lump in my throat when I hear ‘Proud Sponsor of USA Gymnastics.” I appreciate that your companies support the dreams of little girls and boys who work hard because they see themselves standing atop a podium hearing the US National Anthem playing for them. I’m not walking away from you because you supported USA Gymnastics when their leadership failed their athletes. And I don’t want you to walk away from athletes who get back up every time they fall.

Thank you and I hope you’ll reconsider.

NOTE: Several hours after this post went public, the US Olympic Committee issued a letter outlining a series of demands on USA Gymnastics or risk decertification.

Sara

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November 15, 2017

Creating Thanksgiving TraditionsAs we approach the Thanksgiving holiday social media is a constant feed of traditional foods, stories of family tradition dating back to ‘as long as I can remember’, and reminders of open spaces at our tables. As a proud Jewish American family, Thanksgiving figured prominently when I was growing up. It was a time for family and close friends to gather at my grandparent’s house. And there were always new faces ever year, young people who were away from home. Strangers, one would say. But in my grandparent’s home, no one was a stranger. These were my Thanksgiving traditions.

There was no separate kids’ table. Everyone sat together. Formal dining table next to however many folding tables and chairs were needed. The good china and crystal gleamed on the table, for kids and adults alike. The kitchen table was overflowing with desserts of all types. Traditional Pumpkin Pie, check. Sweet Potato Pie, got that too. Cookies, there was a wide assortment. Candies and chocolates, both store-bought and homemade were carefully displayed on beautiful trays. My  grandma was an entertainment goddess. Didn’t matter if there were 10 or 300 (her biggest Passover Seder had over 300!), she made it look so effortless and made everyone feel welcome.

My grandma passed away in 2013. She was in the hospital on Thanksgiving of that year. I had begun prepping the night before, not knowing my grandmother wasn’t feeling well. On Thanksgiving morning, as I was organizing my cooking schedule I got a call telling me my grandma was in the hospital. You don’t simply drop a list-full of food and hope it magically is prepared when you return. Honestly, I don’t even know what we did for Thanksgiving dinner that year. All I remember is being at the hospital, talking to doctors about final plans, making decisions I didn’t want to make, and hoping that I wouldn’t be saying my final good-byes that day.

Thanksgiving 2014 came along, not quite a year after my Bubbe died. I wasn’t in the mood to make a big dinner and spend my entire day in the kitchen. There wasn’t going to be a house full of people. Maybe years ago, but not that year. There would be 5 of us because Grandpa Tommy was not close enough to join our family gatherings.

Long ago, when it was just CycleGuy and me, we decided to have Thanksgiving dinner at a local resort. It was more of a way not to hurt anyone’s feelings because back then, in our early 20s, we were a young couple and had been invited to various homes for the holiday. Rather than having to choose, we had dinner by ourselves then made the rounds to our friends’ homes to laugh, have dessert, play games, and, of course watch sports on TV.

In 2014, I felt like the tradition of a big family gathering wasn’t much of a tradition. I would spend two days cooking and many more cleaning, for what would be a fancy, but still not-too-long dinner. BabyGirl didn’t have expectations of any specific experience. For her, really, it was just another day. Her traditions were more connected to the morning hike with her dad and an evening of playing games and eating dessert. It didn’t help that my last Thanksgiving memory was filled with beeping machines and the smell of industrial cleaners.

CycleGuy suggested we go out for Thanksgiving. I can’t even tell you if anyone had invited us over, because I don’t remember. Thanksgiving 2014 was the first year my whole family was gone. No grandparents, no mom, no uncle. Of course I had CycleGuy and BabyGirl, AuntZoni and Grandpa Tommy. But if all the family you grew up with is gone, you understand. I hope you don’t, though.

This year we’re going out for Thanksgiving. It’s become our tradition. I make a few things, those favorites you want as leftovers. But instead of spending days in the kitchen we spend time together. There is the annual Daddy/Daughter hike, followed by the cajoling to practice violin. (Music moms, you know my pain!) We talk, we look at ads, we watch parades on TV. I cook and bake at leisure, knowing that dinner is going to be ready when we are.

I was talking with a friend, recently, about Thanksgiving traditions and mentioned that I wonder if our going out to dinner will leave BabyGirl feeling empty when she’s away at college and friends talk about their family Thanksgiving traditions. Will she feel like she missed out on a house full of people eating, talking, laughing? Will she feel like her experience of getting dressed up and going to a resort make her not fit in? I started wondering about the traditions I’m creating for her. My friend didn’t really offer much, other than to say that traditions are what you make of them. Some people’s big family Thanksgiving isn’t really a fond memory. A tradition. A memory. But not necessarily good.

I have great memories of Thanksgiving at my grandparent’s house. But those are my memories. It’s not for me to recreate those. It’s more about creating experiences around Thanksgiving, no matter what they are, that fill BabyGirl with joy, love, happiness, appreciation, and gratitude. And if going out for dinner on Thanksgiving does that, then there’s nothing wrong with creating this new tradition.

May your table be filled with your favorite foods and surrounded by your favorite people. However you celebrate, I wish you a wonderful Thanksgiving!

If you’d like to share how you celebrate, I’d love to know!

Sara

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