Following the forced resignation of Kerry Perry, who’s 9-month tenure at USA Gymnastics was plagued by scandal, former Republican Congresswoman from California, Mary Bono was appointed as the interim president and CEO of the troubled organization.
Tensions quickly arose when a month-old tweet was unearthed, in which Bono expressed anti-Nike sentiment. The tweet, which has since been deleted, pictured her using a black marker to color over the Nike logo on a pair of sneakers. The tweet came following the release of an ad that featured former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who has become a divisive figure for kneeling during the national anthem in protest of police brutality against black people.
“Playing in a golf tournament raising money for our nation’s Special Forces operators and their families,” the tweet read. Unfortunately I had these shoes in my bag. Luckily I had a marker in my bag too…”
Simone Biles, a Nike-sponsored athlete who was recently named to the 2018 World Championships in Doha, took issue with the tweet. “Don’t worry, it’s not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything,” she wrote.
don’t worry, it’s not like we needed a smarter usa gymnastics president or any sponsors or anything https://t.co/cYQizcjywn
— Simone Biles (@Simone_Biles) October 13, 2018
An apology quickly followed on Bono’s end, saying in a statement that she respects everyone’s views and regrets posting the tweet. “This in no way reflects how I will approach my position at U.S.A Gymnastics. I will do everything I can to help change the culture and to work with the entire community to build an open, safe and positive environment.”
But at the end of the day, Biles is right. More than anything, what USA Gymnastics needs right now is a smart, capable leader who can secure the organization good sponsors and help shift the culture away from the toxicity that has plagued the sport for so long. If the new CEO holds anti-Nike sentiments, it’s unlikely Nike is going to be lining up to sponsor USAG any time soon.
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.
— Mary Bono (@MaryBonoUSA) October 14, 2018
Then comes into question the deeper problem of whether this points to Bono having the best interests of USAG’s athletes in mind. What if it was Biles protesting instead of Kaepernick? Is Bono really so petty that she would air out her grievances against Nike instead of putting the benefit of athletes first?
Whatever the case may be, USA Gymnastics needs to get on Biles’ good side, and fast. “Bono may be the new interim president and CEO of the organization but Biles is, without a doubt, the most important figure in USA Gymnastics,” Dvora Meyers writes for Deadspin.
Cover image via Business Insider UK.
Also published on Medium.