As many as you know, it was recently announced that USAG has partnered with FloSports. Gymnastics fans are outraged by this due to past actions by FloSports that have inflicted harm on McKayla Maroney. For that reason, fans don’t want to see the company have any association with the sport. If you love McKayla Maroney, then sign this Change.org petition.
There are three reasons for this article. First and foremost, I felt that due to recent events, now would be a good time to produce an article celebrating McKayla. Secondly, if I can get a popular McKayla Maroney article going, it could help direct users to the Change.org petition. Lastly, this article includes content where Maroney in her own words says she just wants to move on from scandals of the past. Which adds context to just how incomprehensibly stupid it was for USAG to partner with FloSports and resurface an old scandal from the past involving McKayla Maroney.
With the exception of the introduction, everything in this article was written in March of 2020 including the title. This article has been in my drafts for ten months, and to be honest, I never thought I’d ever post it. The origins of this article started in March 2019 when McKayla Maroney produced a series of InstagramLive videos that were full of amazing quotes.
In these InstagramLive posts, McKayla Maroney made a series of revelations regarding her family life, gave insight on the tough moments she endured, and the pressure of being a high profile celebrity. The commentary ranged from acknowledging things that had been previously kept secret, to Maroney’s amazing outlook on life being seen on full display. Maroney convened a message of keeping positive in spite of being struck down so many times in the past. I felt the way she conducted herself was inspiring, and despite how personal the Instagram sessions had become, they were more an example of personal courage than anything else.
Most importantly, these sessions revealed that despite everything she has endured, McKayla Maroney never changed who she is, never lost her positive energy, and won’t let it hinder her future goals.
I initially planned to summarize Maroney’s commentary on my Twitter account. But there were so many powerful statements that a blog post became more appropriate. Even though InstagramLive sessions usually disappear, Maroney’s fanbase is so massive that copies of the InstagramLives had made its way to both Reddit and YouTube.
What I loved about this collection of InstagramLive sessions is that Maroney effectively interviewed herself. Maroney told her life story, but did so without an interviewer dictating the agenda. Maroney could talk about what she wanted to, could stop where she wanted to stop, and go at her own pace. What Maroney had done, was to provide a platform for herself, while remaining in her own comfort zone.
The article never materialized (until now) because this was at the end of March in 2020 when COVID-19 was breaking out and it was very difficult as a blogger to turn concepts into finished products with all that was going on. Because this was a “dated” article in response to a specific Instagram post from March 2020, as the months came and went it only become more dated with time. Making it even more difficult to justify publishing it.
The initial “vision” of the article was to turn a series of InstagramLive stories that were hours in length into a quick “Sparknotes” read of no more than a couple of minutes. Making all that Maroney talked about more accessible to gymnastics fans. And given recent events, perhaps the circumstances are right to finally publish it.
So without further delay, a summary of Maroney’s commentary from March 2020:
Maroney specifically cited Aly Raisman as inspiring her to go on InstagramLive. Maroney said she could disappear off social media and be happy, but maintains active social media accounts for the fans rather than for herself.
Maroney acknowledged an intent to compete in 2016, but said she didn’t do it because “I got sick. I couldn’t do it. I had to let go of my dream and it broke my heart” (giggle). Later on in the InstagramLive Maroney followed up on the topic describing herself as experiencing “terrible chronic fatigue” and couldn’t get out of bed. Later saying “I had to quit gymnastics because my body was just done.”
Throughout the InstagramLive Maroney was upbeat at all times, even while discussing highly sensitive and difficult topics. As usual, Maroney came off as likable, lovable, and honest. She was always smiling.
Music and songwriting got Maroney through the hardship of realizing her athletic career was over. Maroney admitted she is “not that good” of a singer. Even called herself a “trash singer” in a second InstagramLive. She came off as admirable for having the self confidence to criticize her own work. Maroney gave the impression that her focus on music is something she is pursuing as part of her healing process, not an attempt to become the next athlete turned music star.
Maroney was very open on the topic of her family relationships and was willing to reveal the more private dynamics of it. Maroney said her parents told her to “shut up” when she would sing. McKayla called music a “dream of mine” that was never supported by her parents. As Maroney described it, both parents came from an athletic background and did not understand her passion for music, saying “they couldn’t understand it.”
On the topic of the #MeToo movement, she said it “hit me like a train.” Maroney never mentioned Larry Nassar by name. She referred to him as the “Doctor I put in jail for 275 years.” Other times she simply called him “the guy.” One central theme in Maroney’s mindset, she embraced the concept of there being an army of survivors. Maroney selflessly gave herself minimum credit for her role in being a strong anti-sexual abuse advocate, while trying to credit others for their contributions to bringing down Nassar.
As Maroney put it, “a whole bunch of other women who fought way harder than I did.” She also made sure to thank the lawyers who fought on her behalf. Maroney’s personality mimics the behavior of so many legendary gymnasts from the past. They work to promote the accomplishments of others while trivializing their own accomplishments that are equally as impressive. Maroney’s mindset here is virtually identical to the commentary of Elena Mukhina and Olga Mostepanova.
Maroney described the “gymnastics world” while using words like “corrupt” and “toxic.” Maroney said for two years paparazzi sat outside her house trying to ask about Nassar. Not only was it a harassing presence, but they were asking questions about someone she hated. Maroney said they were making her “stuck in past life” while she was “trying to move on.” Maroney called it a tough time in her life. McKayla used the word “PTSD” while talking about how difficult this time was for her.
This particular segment is the only moment that Maroney appears to get angry. But she quickly returns to her playful/giggling self, saying “I have to have a sense of humor to move on from it.”
Maroney says she was afraid to leave the house “not looking very cute” and immediately started talking about eating habits. Maroney said she struggled with so much anxiety and didn’t know what else to do besides eat food. Maroney used the word “binge eating” to describe her situation. Maroney made a reference to the general gymnastics culture by saying “it’s still corrupt, we’re still working on it, it’s not over yet.”
Maroney’s father passed away in January of 2019 at the age of 59. Maroney talks about the difficultly of having to endure a family tragedy while she was on an upswing. Shortly before the passing of her father, Maroney was making significant progress in improving herself and overcoming the events of the past.
Maroney revealed that her father died as a result of an addiction to pain pills which wasn’t widely known prior to her InstagramLive session. Maroney’s father had managed to keep it hidden from family. Her father died while trying to detox and went to a hotel in an attempt to isolate himself and endure the withdrawal process on his own. Maroney compared losing her father to losing a piece of herself. Maroney said she lost someone very important to her life and wants to incorporate the concept of death into a future song as a coping mechanism for the passing of her father.
Maroney said of songwriting, “It just makes me so happy.” Maroney stated she didn’t get into it because she loved singing, but rather “I love creating a song that can make someone feel less alone.” Maroney’s interests are more in the songwriting process rather than the joy of singing and performing in front of others.
Maroney said she misses “flipping around” and “working out really hard to the point where I feel like I’m gonna throw up.” Maroney also stated she was planning on attending a UCLA meet in support of Kyla Ross, but ended up not following through. Maroney described the reason as “not feeling gymnastics” and only seems to miss the actual exercise. Maroney has been asked about Jordyn Wieber and said she didn’t want to be a gymnastics coach. As Maroney put it, “I wanted to move on.”
McKayla Maroney called Simone Biles “a little bit, you know, better than me.” When asked about whether she was still friends with her Olympic teammates, Maroney went out of her way to include Simone, even though Maroney and Simone were not technically Olympic teammates. Maroney said of Simone Biles “she’s fire.”
Don’t forget: Change.org petition.