Wednesday, July 1, 2020

Athlete A Review: A Serious, Thorough Look Into The Explosive USA Gymnastics Scandal

Release date: June 24, 2020
Running time: 103 minutes

Athlete A is a documentary that tells the story of the biggest sports scandal in history.  The documentary follows the Indianapolis Star newspaper reporters that broke the story about USA Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar's abuse of gymnasts over years.  Although the film mainly follows the first gymnast to report Nassar's abuse, the documentary has voices from many athletes and Olympians who survived Nassar's abuse. 

Although many of us have heard this story and followed the news, it is different to see this collected into one documentary.  The abuse and cover up are still as disturbing now as they were when the story broke, and there is an extra sense of abhorrence when seeing the actual faces of the accusers, Dr. Nassar, and the USA Gymnastics officials that knew of the abuse but did nothing.  The documentary focuses on the abuse, but it also looks into the culture of USA Gymnastics that allowed this abuse to occur, including the USA Gymnastics's meteoric rise and the culture that brought about this need to succeed and cover up anything that went against that.  It is fascinating to see the way that these young gymnasts train and the lengths that they go through to pursue their dreams, and how that contributed to the silence around Nassar.  

The documentary gives a thorough look at the abuse, the investigation, and the story that the Indianapolis Star pursued.  It goes into both the reasons for USA Gymnastic's toxic culture, as well as looking at some of the early stages of the Nassar accusations and investigation.  The documentary slowly builds, adding in new individuals and other accusers as it continues.  It is a thoughtful, thorough look into the case.  It looks at both the failings of the institution and of society's response to the accusations.  Choosing to come forward had both professional and personal consequences for the survivors of Nassar's abuse, and one of the shocking things about this is the reaction of the general public to the accusations including the terrible comments made about the survivors.

Athlete A is a thoughtful, thorough look into the worst sports story in recent memory, as well as the failings of USA Gymnastics that led to this scandal.

Watch it.

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