The John Coughlin story, tragic for all involved, should lead to empathy and understanding instead of finger-pointing

The John Coughlin story, tragic for all involved, should lead to empathy and understanding instead of finger-pointing

Let’s start with the simple fact that John Coughlin’s death is a tragedy.

Whatever the circumstances and reasons that led the 33-year-old pairs figure skating national champion to take his own life Friday, as his sister’s Facebook post confirmed, they do not mitigate the pain Coughlin’s passing has brought to his family and friends.

And the desire of those people to express their love and support for Coughlin does not mitigate the pain of those who have reported being victimized by him.

Coughlin’s death leaves many questions specific to his case that likely will never be answered and other, broader questions that should continue to be asked.

Yet too many people have felt compelled to draw conclusions based on assumptions, misinformation and misunderstanding.

Read More

Hanyu, Ledecká rise above it all in a year when world sport needed them - and other athletes - as salvation from scandal and cowardice

Hanyu, Ledecká rise above it all in a year when world sport needed them - and other athletes - as salvation from scandal and cowardice

In international sports, 2018 was a year of courage and cowardice and common sense in seeing through a con.

And, as usual, it was a year of athletes of all colors, backgrounds, nations, shapes and sizes rising above the inanity, craven callousness and amorality of the old, white men who run global sports.

To which one can only say this:  Thanks, Yuzuru Hanyu and Simone Biles, thanks Ester Ledecká and Chloe Kim, thanks Eliud Kipchoge and Team Shuster. . .thanks to you and more for the achievements and goodwill that made us remember that sport, for all its ugly, scandalous warts, can show humankind at its most attractive.

Read More

For Biles And Ledecky, Greatness Comes From Going Beyond The Top


RIO DE JANEIRO – In two hours Thursday afternoon, I went from watching Katie Ledecky, who defies the clock in a pool, to watching Simone Biles, who defies gravity on a gymnastics floor.

These two 19-year-olds, born three days apart in March of 1997, each dominates her sport in a way that leaves their rivals in awe.

“If Katie swims the way she can, we all are swimming for second or third,” Denmark’s Lotte Friis, a 2008 Olympic bronze medalist, told me two months ago.

“I knew Simone was going to win; I was just hoping to get second,” her U.S. teammate, Aly Raisman, said early Thursday evening, when Raisman had done just that as Biles took the Olympic all-around title by 2.1 points, the largest victory margin in the last 40 years.

Biles has a team gold medal. And the all-around gold. And she will be favored to add three more in the individual events.

Ledecky has three golds and a silver. She is heavily favored to win a fourth gold Friday after setting an Olympic record in the 800-meter freestyle preliminaries Thursday.

What Biles and Ledecky share is the same plan for getting farther ahead of the opposition when triumph already is a foregone conclusion.

FOR THE WHOLE STORY ON TEAMUSA.ORG, CLICK HERE

Simone Biles, Gabby Douglas Are Latest & Greatest In Storied History Of African-American Gymnasts

“I never would have thought I would have so much influence on these little girls, especially African-American girls,” 2012 Olympic all-around champion Gabby Douglas said after I had told her the story of one such little girl. “To be able to inspire other athletes is amazing.”

Imagine the inspiration possible this Olympic year, because the top two women’s gymnasts in the world are African-Americans.

One, Simone Biles, 18, became the first black world all-around champion in 2013 and has now won an unprecedented three straight world all-around titles. The other, Douglas, 20, finished second to Biles in the world all-around last season, ending her two-year hiatus from the sport with a flourish. They both contributed to the 2015 team gold medal.

The world championships play only to gymnastics fans, a relatively limited audience. The Olympics play to the whole world, with millions of young girls and boys potential converts, especially in the United States, which will get a massive dose of prime-time gymnastics in NBC’s telecasts of Rio 2016.

Given that plus their ability and likeability, think of what that will mean if both Biles and Douglas win a passel of medals or both finish on the all-around podium, neither of which is a stretch.

“These two young African-Americans capture the spirit of Black History Month,” USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny said. “They are making history and demonstrating there really are no racial boundaries from the standpoint of participation in our sport.”

READ THE WHOLE STORY