While Olympic gold medalists like Simone Biles continue to elevate U.S.A. Gymnastics to new heights with world record-breaking feats, it seems that the organization’s leadership can not get its most base-level shit together. On Friday, the organization appointed former Republican congresswoman and gymnast Mary Bono to the post of interim president and CEO; on Saturday, Biles quickly noticed a tweet in which Bono appeared to show disdain for Colin Kaepernick’s protest of institutional racism. In September, a day after Nike announced a campaign featuring Kaepernick, Bono joined the Nike boycott by tweeting a photo of herself crossing out the Nike logo on her golf cleats in black ink.
Biles subtweeted the photo with the caption:
don’t worry, it’s not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything
U.S.A. Gymnastics lost several sponsors during the Nassar trial and has been without an apparel sponsor after losing Under Armor in late 2017. Biles is personally sponsored by Nike.
Biles, like many fellow athletes, has repeatedly had to step in and speak up when the organization stayed silent. She is one of the hundreds of young women who have accused U.S.A. Gymnastics doctor Larry Nassar of sexual abuse. Like many other survivors, she has criticized the organization’s apparent unwillingness to take responsibility as former CEO Kerry Perry remained silent long after Nassar was sentenced to up to 175 years in prison in January. In August, Biles indicated to reporters that she wasn’t seeing change. “Hopefully it’s going in the right direction, but nobody can know until Kerry Perry speaks up,” she said. Perry was forced to resign in September.
Hours after Biles spotted the photo, Bono deleted it and apologized in a tweet:
I regret the post and respect everyone’s views & fundamental right to express them. This doesn’t reflect how I will approach my position @USAGym I will do everything I can to help build, w/ the community, an open, safe & positive environment.
In this case, the athlete speaking up happens to be one of her organization’s greatest assets.