NCAA Current UCLA Situation (Alexis Jeffery Transfer)

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JBS

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With all the things that have happened in gymnastics I have been asked what ChalkBucket can do to help make gymnastics better. My answer is always the same... ChalkBucket helps by allowing people to talk about things.

As we move ChalkBucket into 2022... I want everyone to feel as if they can talk about anything they would like to talk about. I have been told that people don't feel that they can talk about what is going on at UCLA here... you can. I am opening this thread so all can talk.

Please listen to this podcast first...




If you would like to read more comments from others around the web... check this thread at Gymnaverse...


Racism is not OK. If you would like to talk... please do... if you don't want to talk... just listen to the podcast above.
 
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gym_dad32608

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Really complex situation. Sad that we have gotten to a point in our society that we are so divided that we cant possibly see how the other side might feel and just issue a simple apology....

Summary of the story as it stands now, Jefferies was singing a song in practice that had lyrics using the N word. When approached by African American teammates about how it was offensive to them, she was apparently indignant and refused to apologize. A series of performative (Fraziers words) workshops were held. Which left no-one feeling better. Coaches told black athletes they were concerned about Jeffries mental health, which made them more upset. Jeffries claimed she was bullied and hence left. Whole team is upset.

Seems like a simple apology at the beginning would have avoided this whole mess. Not sure what the admin/coaches were supposed to do other than what they did? The article alludes to making Jeffries sit 2 meets, but does that really accomplish anything? Everyone seems a little bad here in my opinion.

Have you seen micro-aggressions in your gyms/meets? Just curious.
 
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PreciousJ

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LA Times Article

Really complex situation. Sad that we have gotten to a point in our society that we are so divided that we cant possibly see how the other side might feel and just issue a simple apology....

Summary of the story as it stands now, Jefferies was singing a song in practice that had lyrics using the N word. When approached by African American teammates about how it was offensive to them, she was apparently indignant and refused to apologize. A series of performative (Fraziers words) workshops were held. Which left no-one feeling better. Coaches told black athletes they were concerned about Jeffries mental health, which made them more upset. Jeffries claimed she was bullied and hence left. Whole team is upset.

Seems like a simple apology at the beginning would have avoided this whole mess. Not sure what the admin/coaches were supposed to do other than what they did? The article alludes to making Jeffries sit 2 meets, but does that really accomplish anything? Everyone seems a little bad here in my opinion.

Have you seen micro-aggressions in your gyms/meets? Just curious.
Nobody wants to apologize anymore. People view an apology as failure, instead of a learning opportunity. And this is sad.

The gymnasts at my daughter's gym (including her team) are predominantly Black, with several Asian and Latina girls as well. In the three years she's been on team, I can say I've seen/heard a few microaggressions at meets.
 

rlm's mom

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We have many black and Asian gymnasts in our gym and never had
have any incidents. I think its has to do with the management of the program. If they have a blanket enforced rule that racism is not tolerated it stays that way. A kid has once been suspended from the team temporarily for a string of racial comments. She never returned. That is the only incident I've heard of and we've been in this gym for 5.5 years
 

bookworm

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I listened/read both and all I can say is yikes. I can't imagine getting ready to compete/train in such a toxic environment. Marz flat out says "my coach hasn't spoken to me in weeks" . And the team was supposed to wear their BLM leos for the Minnesota meet and they refused , which explains why they were wearing the hideous gold ones. But Waller has definitely lost his locker room so I can't imagine how he continues in the head coaching position...

As far as Alexis Jeffrey (AJ) and her comments , on what planet did she think that kind of talk/behavior was going to fly at UCLA or any place? She was committed there as early as 2018 so you think she would have done some research on the climate of the university ...if anything, UCLA has gotten more liberal since she committed. I read that she said "that kind of talk happens all the time where I'm from" ....uh well they are telling you it is offensive where you are now so knock it off.

I'm surprised LSU reportedly welcomed her in and as Jay Clark reports , 100% of the gymnasts said yes...and what are they going to say when it's a done deal? The only way I can see her being at LSU is as a mat mover and not taking anyone's spot to compete....if she bumped me from my spot, I'd be pretty disappointed that an unapologetic racist took my place. I don't see her presence as a unifying force at all, especially where there were zero consequences for her behavior.
 

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gym_dad32608

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Wow, just wow. To me there are so many different lessons to learn here and not really all about racism. It really does sound like Waller has lost the team, at least the upper-class group. I know I am going to sound old school here, but its also an example of when you give the athletes too much "freedom" to run the program, which falls on Waller. I think with a bit more structure and involvement by coaching staff, they would have been able to temper some of the responses between all parties. Instead we get these extreme responses. Strong leadership and relationships with the athletes would teach them that the world we live in is not absolutes, and in a civil society we all make compromises that we learn to accept. Like Alexis completely refusing to budge on apology or recognizing how her words could be offensive. Or the other girls demanding the university do something other than what it did. It definitely all points back to Waller and not having a strong connection and leadership with these girls. I am pretty certain that Valerie would have nipped this pretty quickly with direct interaction with all parties.

As far as Alexis, I am not ready to cancel her as a raging racist Klan member. Rude, insensitive, juvenile, entitled, reflective of our current society, probably is a good start for me. I do think she would be a distraction on any team but it does not surprise me that she ends up at LSU. That athletic program has a history and culture of "win at all costs including cheating". Just look up all the recent scandals coming from there and the school's response. I only hope someday she will see the error of her position.
 

bookworm

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As far as Alexis, I am not ready to cancel her as a raging racist Klan member. Rude, insensitive, juvenile, entitled, reflective of our current society, probably is a good start for me. I do think she would be a distraction on any team but it does not surprise me that she ends up at LSU. That athletic program has a history and culture of "win at all costs including cheating". I only hope someday she will see the error of her position.

Soooo, you don’t think she’s a “raging racist “ but just rude, insensitive, entitled, juvenile and reflective of our current society? I’m a bit confused… she used the N word on multiple occasions, even after being asked not to and then replied that that “was how they spoke back home” and refused to apologize for hurtful comments, then pulls the M card (whether real or not threatening self harm) and those she hurled her racist comments at are told to “treat her with grace”? I see where you get rude, entitled, insensitive for sure but I can’t see that you don’t think she’s racist (I’m not sure about the Klan member either but I’d go out on a limb on racist).

I think by allowing her to be thought of as “rude, insensitive, juvenile, and entitled “ and NOT racist, totally plays into excusing behavior that shouldn’t be excused…. She was ALL of those things, including racist, and apologized for NONE of it.

Shame on Jay Clark for even entertaining the idea of her transfer … an abrupt transfer 2 weeks into the season by a highly ranked recruit was suspicious even without talking to UCLA . And from a recent article that just came out, the UCLA team is fractured over this and some sided with AJ and that’s who Clark vetted her with …. So disappointing.
 

PreciousJ

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Just listened to the podcast. Sekai and Margzetta came across as very earnest and compassionate. Again, the inability for some people to recognize when they have hurt someone is *staggering*. The coaching staff completely handled this wrong. They are being performative allies and you should not pick and choose who you stand up for.

Yes, racism sucks. Gaslighting, shaming, and deflecting the concerns of people who were wronged is worse. UCLA should be better than this, and the program WILL suffer because of it.
 

PreciousJ

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Too late to edit, but a few additional thoughts.

Sounds like AJ was approached several times, in a gentle manner, about her actions - some of which, by the way, would be considered bullying behaviors (rankings teammates physical appearance). I don't buy that the team bullied her into (possible) self harm, but to be fair, I haven't heard a statement from her on the matter.

Using racial slurs - I'm Black. I don't tolerate use of the N word. I'm not in the "let's reclaim this term and remove the power from it" camp. I hate that it's still used by POC in music/movies/etc. I believe by doing so, you're going to continue to get folks who believe that it's "OK" to use the word casually. Saying it, singing it, is not OK, no matter what your skin color IMO. Period.
 

bookworm

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Amen Precious J. She had ample opportunity to see the error of her ways … but instead tries to flip the blame onto the Teammates she offended. I also read somewhere that she said she “was also a POC “ so it was ok for her to use the N word (after some digging, she is identified somewhere as Asian on her mom’s side) . Sekai Wright tried to gently tell her that no, you can’t but that fell on deaf ears and AJ went into full defensive mode with bullying and mental health sequelae as part of what supposedly happened to her.

Bottom line , she needed to apologize and didn’t and Waller dropped the ball on this one and it will probably cost him his job …. But then again , as Tia Kiaku’s mom has pointed out when her daughter was the subject of racist comments at Alabama with no apology, Dana Duckworth continues to be employed as head coach and her daughter was blackballed out of the sport … so im not holding my breath on UCLA righting this ship.
 

gym_dad32608

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Soooo, you don’t think she’s a “raging racist “ but just rude, insensitive, entitled, juvenile and reflective of our current society? I’m a bit confused… she used the N word on multiple occasions, even after being asked not to and then replied that that “was how they spoke back home” and refused to apologize for hurtful comments, then pulls the M card (whether real or not threatening self harm) and those she hurled her racist comments at are told to “treat her with grace”? I see where you get rude, entitled, insensitive for sure but I can’t see that you don’t think she’s racist (I’m not sure about the Klan member either but I’d go out on a limb on racist).

I think by allowing her to be thought of as “rude, insensitive, juvenile, and entitled “ and NOT racist, totally plays into excusing behavior that shouldn’t be excused…. She was ALL of those things, including racist, and apologized for NONE of it.

Shame on Jay Clark for even entertaining the idea of her transfer … an abrupt transfer 2 weeks into the season by a highly ranked recruit was suspicious even without talking to UCLA . And from a recent article that just came out, the UCLA team is fractured over this and some sided with AJ and that’s who Clark vetted her with …. So disappointing.
We are all racist to some degree, so ya, if you want to label her a racist then sure, but make sure you call yourself one too. I don't think just because someone sings lyrics that include these offensive terms is then an unreformable individual. I see her point (even if I dont agree with it), in the way that how can it be ok if a singer is singing it and I cant? Her stubbornness of not willing to apologize or recognize the issue shows how juvenile, rude and entitled she is, much like many culture war discussions we are having today. At LSU they would probably ridiculously call her a patriot in some corners. If we keep trying to cast aside these people and not engage them we will never have progress and learning. Again, based upon what we know, Waller should have stepped up and been the adult/leader/coach in the room and had a firm discussion with her and her teammates about this. Instead, he went the cya, institutional route with "let's just have some sensitivity training and forget it happened" route.
 

bookworm

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I didn’t say she was “unreformable” although i think her teammates approaching her multiple times on the issue and she doesn’t stop or apologize and instead transfers doesn’t bode well for enlightment. My point was that if behavior like hers continues to be excused as “rude, juvenile etc” versus calling it what it is, it will continue.

I don’t think she should be banished from the sport and have her life ruined at 19 , but taking ownership of the behavior and committing to change would have been something that was a must for me to have her continue as an athlete on my team. Continuing to do something offensive to teammates( and she had several things she did besides the N word, ranking body sizes and shapes, ranking attractiveness… none of that is ok) after being told not to, is what i cannot fathom someone doing.
 

NutterButter

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Really complex situation

Is it really that complex though? It gets simplified to AJ inflicted harm on her teammates, was called out for her actions and then couldn't/wouldn't take responsibility for the harm she inflicted after numerous opportunities to grow and learn from her mistakes.


Have you seen micro-aggressions in your gyms/meets? Just curious.
As far as Alexis, I am not ready to cancel her as a raging racist Klan member. Rude, insensitive, juvenile, entitled, reflective of our current society, probably is a good start for me.

Yes. Racism is prevalent in all aspects of society. My DD has several stories of racism in the gym involving coaches and teammates. I've heard of racism at OTHER gyms from parents (although I live in a big city, the gym community is small). I heard one story years ago that involves a girl who has gone on to do BIG things in the sport. I bolded the sentence in the quote above because it's a very typical white person comment about racism. There's more to racism than the Klan. Most American would agree that the Klan is bad and that they are not racist, but dig deeper and you will find that nearly all white Americans have biases that result from a society mirred in systemic racism.

It really does sound like Waller has lost the team, at least the upper-class group. I know I am going to sound old school here, but its also an example of when you give the athletes too much "freedom" to run the program, which falls on Waller. I think with a bit more structure and involvement by coaching staff, they would have been able to temper some of the responses between all parties. Instead we get these extreme responses. Strong leadership and relationships with the athletes would teach them that the world we live in is not absolutes, and in a civil society we all make compromises that we learn to accept.

There's alot here to unpack but it all points back to performative allyship.

I don't think it's entirely fair to say that the athletes have 'too much freedom' Part of what you are critical of is how collegiate teams operate. For example, some of that is mentioned in the podcast w/the teammates managing when someone needs a mental health day. I see aspects of this with my DDs college team. The Team takes on a lot of the overall management of the day-to-day interactions and training. There is a heirarchy with the older athletes showing the ropes to younger ones. It's very different from club gymnastics.

Really, you think we've seen extreme responses? The only thing extreme is how secretive it all is and how the only two athletes comfortable speaking out are Seniors who are Black. One significant shortcoming in all this is that the NCAA has no code on *how* to deal with racism. These athletes, who are still essentially kids, should be given the opportunity to learn from mistakes but what does that look like? A class or seminar is a good start but then what?There are no repercussions for racist actions. Coaching staff and school administration are just as complicit. Why doesn't the NCAA have repercussions codified? Punishment for first offence, second offence etc. Rules for when/how an athlete can transfer under these circumstances. Until the entire SYSTEM changes, much of what we see turns out to be Performative Activism.

That's the real shame in all this.
 

bookworm

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1. The only thing extreme is how secretive it all is and how the only two athletes comfortable speaking out are Seniors who are Black.
2. One significant shortcoming in all this is that the NCAA has no code on *how* to deal with racism.
3. Punishment for first offence, second offence etc. Rules for when/how an athlete can transfer under these circumstances.
Totally agree Nutter Butter and to the three I list above:

1. We initially saw Norah Flatley tweet about it but now it's just Marz and Sekai, both not competing at this point with injuries. And even Sekai said in her interview, "I stopped saying anything because i didn't want to be attacked" . Can't even imagine the tension in that locker room . One story said the team "was divided " on this issue so there's that too.

2. The NCAA has no code for dealing with racism and a lot of other things that go on on teams. They leave it to the head coach to discipline the athlete and either keep them on their team or cut them loose. Think about the times you've heard of a player getting into trouble for sexual assault , DUI, selling drugs etc and the next year , they're on a new team with a "it wasn't a good fit for me" excuse as a transfer....and if they're good enough, the new team doesn't investigate the past bad behavior ("that's in the past, it's a new start here")

3. I was shocked she could go into the transfer portal with this situation still evolving , but as I note in #2, Jay Clark decided to take his first transfer in season with a mess in her wake because she was good enough. Barring any rules against her being in the portal, she was allowed to transfer. Personally I think a kid should be able to transfer from a school that is not a good fit versus being miserable for 4 years but there should be some sort of limits if the reason for the transfer is behavior infractions . Have them sit out part of a season/#games or something similar because if you can just behave badly and then jump on to another team seamlessly, what is the motivation for change?
 

PreciousJ

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1. We initially saw Norah Flatley tweet about it but now it's just Marz and Sekai, both not competing at this point with injuries. And even Sekai said in her interview, "I stopped saying anything because i didn't want to be attacked" . Can't even imagine the tension in that locker room . One story said the team "was divided " on this issue so there's that too.

2. The NCAA has no code for dealing with racism and a lot of other things that go on on teams. They leave it to the head coach to discipline the athlete and either keep them on their team or cut them loose. Think about the times you've heard of a player getting into trouble for sexual assault , DUI, selling drugs etc and the next year , they're on a new team with a "it wasn't a good fit for me" excuse as a transfer....and if they're good enough, the new team doesn't investigate the past bad behavior ("that's in the past, it's a new start here")

3. I was shocked she could go into the transfer portal with this situation still evolving , but as I note in #2, Jay Clark decided to take his first transfer in season with a mess in her wake because she was good enough. Barring any rules against her being in the portal, she was allowed to transfer. Personally I think a kid should be able to transfer from a school that is not a good fit versus being miserable for 4 years but there should be some sort of limits if the reason for the transfer is behavior infractions . Have them sit out part of a season/#games or something similar because if you can just behave badly and then jump on to another team seamlessly, what is the motivation for change?
I would love to hear from some of the other UCLA gymnasts on this situation, especially Norah. As it stands, there are people who are going think Sekai and Margzetta are "blowing this out of proportion", because they are Black women. Too many times, we are ignored and gaslit - been party to it myself.

To #3 above - I follow NCAA football closely, and athletes with "issues" transfer frequently. This needs to be reigned in. 100% agree that there should be limitations on the circumstances under which an athlete can transfer. But, the NCAA has no incentive to do so, as long as they can keep [insert star athlete's name here] under their umbrella and continue to profit from their talent and notoriety. Many changes to be made all around.
 

gym_dad32608

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Is it really that complex though?
Yes, it is, in regards to the event that triggered the whole situation. As PreciousJ pointed out in her post, modern pop culture in the African American (and some white artists) community continues to use the N word without repercussion. Now I am not saying that is an excuse for poor behavior, but I can certainly see where an 18/19 yo growing up in a closed community could not necessarily understand the issue with singing these lyrics. When this first came out it was "she was throwing around the N word in gym" without context. People vehemently jumped on her, and rightly so if that was the complete context. The context now makes it a little more complicated than she clearly is a hate mongering racist.

I bolded the sentence in the quote above because it's a very typical white person comment about racism. There's more to racism than the Klan. Most American would agree that the Klan is bad and that they are not racist, but dig deeper and you will find that nearly all white Americans have biases that result from a society mirred in systemic racism.
My use of "raging Klan member" was an allegory to someone who is so far gone in their belief structure that it is nearly impossible to change their belief system.
The use of "this is what white people say" and "performative allyship" is part of the problem with many on the left. Using terms like this shuts down the conversation. It allows folks on the right to roll their eyes and say "oh here we go again, some liberal academic high on their horse, trying to tell me what I should know or how I should act".

One significant shortcoming in all this is that the NCAA has no code on *how* to deal with racism.
Right, and you want the NCAA, the model of organizational perfection (sarcasm) to write a rule on policing racism?! The NFL, the NBA and other pre-eminent sports organizations don't even have that. Who writes it? Who gets to say what is racist versus what isn't? Or what is a poor mistake versus egregious one?

I keep going back to the point that the coach and staff failed on this one. And perhaps my use of the term "too much freedom" is incorrect. My intention was that the coach and staff should be more directly in touch with the athletes fostering these relationships that generate respect. So that when something like this happens they are the adults in the room.
 

PreciousJ

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I think the coaches were afraid to be called out for taking action (e.g., suspending AJ), but now they find themselves with even more negative press. I know I couldn't name the UCLA Gymnastics coach before a few weeks ago, but now his job is likely on the line because of his inaction.
 

gym_dad32608

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To #3 above - I follow NCAA football closely, and athletes with "issues" transfer frequently. This needs to be reigned in. 100% agree that there should be limitations on the circumstances under which an athlete can transfer. But, the NCAA has no incentive to do so, as long as they can keep [insert star athlete's name here] under their umbrella and continue to profit from their talent and notoriety. Many changes to be made all around.
Part of giving athletes the ability to transfer one time without limitation was to give them more power and say in their futures including the ability to make a profit. Just think of the flip side of the scenario before, where coaches (and now I'm talking more NCAA football here) were denying transfers of athletes because they didn't want to lose their star player or have them compete with a common opponent. I think what should have happened is LSU should have said thanks, but no thanks. And she would have had to stay at UCLA. But we know how LSU conducts themselves.
 
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