USA Gymnastics introduces Athlete Bill of Rights, protest policy

By Patricia Duffy | December 10, 2020
USA Gymnastics introduces Athlete Bill of Rights, protest policy
Courtesy USA Gymnastics.

As part of ongoing efforts by USA Gymnastics to empower athletes, the organization today announced two new measures: an Athlete Bill of Rights and a protest policy for national team members.

The Athlete Bill of Rights was created to unite the full gymnastics community around a shared vision of behavioral expectations, and the protest policy aims to support those national team members who choose to use their voice in public platforms.

The bill was designed to memorialize a shared community commitment to athlete wellness, while codifying certain rights that are foundational to creating a culture of health and safety within the sport. It is also intended to help athletes and the parents of minor athletes feel comfortable and supported in advocating for themselves and others.

Among other things, the Athlete Bill of Rights outlines inclusivity standards for participants and sets athlete expectations related to safety, health and wellness, coaching standards, interaction with other USA Gymnastics members, and organizational integrity and transparency. It also encourages athletes to express their input on decisions that affect them and supports their right to share their experiences and opinions openly.

The Athlete Bill of Rights was a collaborative effort between USA Gymnastics and members of the organization’s elected Athletes’ Council, which serves as a conduit between USA Gymnastics and athletes within the sport.

Credit: USA Gymnastics/YouTube

The USA Gymnastics protest policy for national team athletes reinforces this support. The policy, as stated in the National Team handbook, reads:

“In a number of forums (e.g., on social media, at press conferences, etc.), you also have a platform to use your voice in other ways – whether that is to inspire the next generation of gymnasts, provide feedback on your experiences, share personal anecdotes, or advocate for causes you believe in. Your choice to do so – including through peaceful protest at a USA Gymnastics’ event – will not impact selections, team participation, or results, to the extent it is under USA Gymnastics’ control (i.e., the Olympic Games are not under USAG’s control), so long as you are complying with the USA Gymnastics’ policies, including the Code of Ethical Conduct.”

USA Gymnastics said in its release that it recognizes that, in past years, athletes were often hesitant to actively use their voices. These measures are specifically designed to provide athletes with the confidence that they can express themselves freely within this sport.

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