Sunday, March 19, 2017

U.S. Sports Organizations Will Actually Have to Report Sexual Abuse Under a New Law

It's probably unbelievable to you, because you, dear reader, are a normal person and not immoral, self-serving scum, that it is NOT necessarily a policy to report or take any action when an underage athlete is sexually abused by a coach, manager or other staff member associated with our Olympic or other national teams. Sickening to hear, isn't it? Well, it's about damn time that changes  and I hope to see this bill passed that was just introduced - with support from both parties, even.

Here is the press release they sent out below.

            Washington—Senators Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Susan Collins (R-Maine), Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa), Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), Jeanne Shaheen (D-N.H.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Catherine Cortez-Masto (D-Nev.), Bill Nelson (D-Fla.), Jeff Flake (R-Ariz.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), Marco Rubio (R-Fla.), Joe Donnelly (D-Ind.) and Todd Young (R-Ind.) today introduced legislation to require amateur athletics governing bodies to immediately report sex-abuse allegations to local or federal law enforcement, or a child-welfare agency designated by the Justice Department.

            The bill stems from recent allegations of sexual abuse made against personnel involved with USA Gymnastics, USA Swimming and USA Taekwondo.

            The bill would also amend the Ted Stevens Amateur and Olympic Sports Act, which governs amateur athletics governing bodies, to make it safe and easy for victims to report abuse and mandate oversight of member gymnasiums to ensure strong sexual-abuse prevention policies are implemented. For example, USA Gymnastics would implement and enforce policies to ensure coaches and personnel are trained in sexual abuse prevention.

            “Sexual abuse stays with victims their entire lives. Amateur athletic governing bodies, coaches, and personnel have a special obligation to do all they can to protect young athletes in their care,” said Senator Feinstein. “All allegations of sex abuse must be promptly reported to local or federal law enforcement. Otherwise, they may not be treated with the seriousness that’s required.”

            “Sexual abuse is a heinous crime that must be eradicated in every corner of our society,”said Senator Collins. “I have long worked to prevent sexual assault and ensure that survivors have access to the resources and support they need.  By requiring amateur athletic governing organizations to promptly report every allegation of sexual abuse to the proper authorities, this legislation will help survivors receive justice and protect more people from becoming victims.”

            “Sexual abuse should never be tolerated. This bill helps to protect young athletes from such heinous crimes, and establishes a structure to help victims safely report abuses, which must then be relayed to the authorities,” said Senator Grassley. “It also requires oversight of the training facilities to ensure that policies preventing sexual abuse are being taken seriously.”

            “As a former prosecutor, I’ve seen firsthand how child sexual abuse can destroy lives. Amateur athletes deserve better protection from this terrible crime,” said Senator Klobuchar. “Our bipartisan legislation would help ensure that the governing organizations, coaches, and trainers who are closest to these young athletes are actively reporting sexual abuse crimes to law enforcement in order to punish abusers and prevent these acts from happening in the first place.”

            “When parents entrust their children to these programs and coaches, there should be no doubt that they will be safe and protected from predators,” said Senator McCaskill. “What happened to these kids under the watch of USA Gymnastics coaches is sickening, and these predators need to be held fully accountable.”

            “There is absolutely no room for sexual assault. This legislation safeguards our athletes by strengthening mandatory reporting of sexual assault allegations and requiring amateur sports organizations to develop and enforce policies to prevent these horrendous crimes from happening in the first place,” said Senator Ernst. “Combatting and preventing sexual assault is a bipartisan issue, and we must work to ensure there is zero tolerance for sexual assault in all facets of our society.”

            “All children have the right to be protected from abuse and protected when reporting abuse. The revelations about USA Gymnastics turning a blind eye to our most vulnerable young athletes were heartbreaking,” said Senator Harris. “The systemic disregard by officials to report instances of abuse must be addressed. We must compel amateur athletic organizations to immediately report abusers to law-enforcement, and create protected environments for children to thrive. This legislation is a critical step forward.”

            “This will force the U.S. Olympic Committee and their national athletic governing bodies to do something they should have been doing all along: developing and enforcing strict policies that protect athletes from sexual abuse,” said Senator Nelson. “It’s inexcusable that responsible adults looked the other way while terrible crimes were committed.”

            “There should be no excuse for anyone—particularly those in positions of authority and who are entrusted with the safety and well-being of young athletes—to fail to report the sexual abuse of children and young adults,” said Senator Rubio. “Recent revelations about the USA Gymnastics program are deeply troubling, and it’s clear we must do more to strengthen protections for young athletes, ensure victims receive justice, and hold predators accountable.”

            The bill is supported by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC), National Children’s Alliance, Rights4Girls, University of Utah Law Professor Paul Cassell, Child Sex Crime Victims’ Lawyer James Marsh, Crime Victims Expert Steve Twist, National Crime Victims Center, National Association of VOCA Administrators, Child USA, National Organization for Victim Assistance, ToPrevail, ChampionWomen, National Children Advocacy Center, the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, and Rape Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN).

Statements from victims and supporters: 

            Jeannette Antolin, member of the USA Gymnastics National Team and abuse victim: “I appreciate Senator Feinstein and her colleagues taking a horrendous tragedy and creating crucial change to protect future athletes. By implementing such change, I feel like my pain can finally have a voice!”

            Mattie Larson, member of the USA Gymnastics National Team and abuse victim: “I am so grateful that individuals in a position of power have listened to my story and is making sure that what happened to me won’t happen to future athletes.”

            Jessica Howard, member of the USA Gymnastics National Team and abuse victim: “The culture of abuse in gymnastics, the tacit permission for emotional, psychological and physical abuse cloaked in obfuscation and denial creates an environment where sexual abuse can occur with impunity. This, sadly, was my experience. Sadder still is that this culture has been generationally perpetuated at an institutional level. The abuse must stop now. With proper legislation, we can make the changes necessary to ensure that children will be free to follow their dreams in an environment free of abuse.”  

            John F. Clark, president and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children: “As President and CEO of the National Center for Missing & Exploited Children, we know that protecting children and providing safe spaces for them to learn, play and grow is central to the mission of every youth-serving organization, including sports organizations.  We believe that the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act will go a long way in protecting youth who participate in elite sports, so we are proud to lend our support to Senators Dianne Feinstein, Charles Grassley and all the other sponsors of this important legislation.” 

            Rebecca O’Connor, vice president of public policy, RAINN: “This legislation is an important step to ensuring that allegations of sexual abuse of elite amateur athletes are taken seriously and acted upon swiftly. In supporting this legislation, we will work with Senator Feinstein and other members of the Senate to protect children from this abuse.”

            Mai Fernandez, executive director of the National Center for Victims of Crime: “This legislation will provide important protections and remedies for young athletes. We applaud Senator Feinstein for her efforts to ensure that athletes can train and compete in an atmosphere free of sexual abuse.”

            Nancy Hogshead-Makar, J.D., three-time Olympic gold medalist, CEO of Champion Women:“Senator Feinstein’s bold step is a simple one: requiring that the U.S. Olympic Committee and the national governing bodies of each sport shield athletes from sexually abusive coaches. For years these organizations have argued that the Sports Act prevented them from protecting athletes. This new legislation eliminates the legal gap that resulted in severe harm to thousands of young athletes over decades.”

            Marci Hamilton, J.D., CEO and academic director, CHILD USA: “No longer is reporting abuse in sports left solely to the states. By requiring all coaches and adults associated with a national governing body to report sexual abuse, this bill goes a long way toward changing the culture of sport. Many thanks to Senator Feinstein for her leadership in the fight to protect children.”

            Teresa Huizar, executive director, National Children’s Alliance: “Coaches and sporting federations wield immense power in the lives of child athletes, whether they train to excel at their chosen sports as a pastime or to represent America among nations on the Olympic stage. Some predators seeking close contact with children enter the ranks of amateur sports, where children and parents trust coaches and doctors to help them achieve their Olympic dreams. Senator Feinstein’s bill, the Protecting Young Victims from Sexual Abuse Act, would help protect child athletes from abuse and hold sporting federations accountable for providing child protection and appropriate oversight of the conduct of coaches and other professionals.”


Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Asking for Advice (and help): How Do We Get People to Know about Us?

Usually when I am writing this blog I am giving advice - and, believe me, I am just brimming with advice. However, today, I'm asking for it - advice, that is.

We started 7 Generation Games a few years ago with very little money - a Small Business Innovation Research grant, a Kickstarter campaign. As with any prototype, our first game was buggy and rough. Over the last couple of years, we have made MAJOR improvements as we had the time, and money.

For example, Fish Lake

We've had a couple of people stream our games on Twitch.

We have a website.

 Between our personal accounts and the company account we have over 20,000 twitter followers and over 30,000 instagram followers.

We just filmed (recorded) whatever the word is - a reality TV show pilot and while waiting for it to be edited we create a youtube channel of the raw footage.

 We have had people tell us if we only had games that ran on Chromebooks
So, we have Forgotten Trail and Making Camp - and Making Camp is even free !

 We have people tell us if we only had data to document math scores improved. So, we provided multiple studies.

If you only had games that could run on an iPad or Android devices  -- so we brought you the mobile versions of Making Camp.

Part of the problem is rising above the noise. There are millions of apps to download, literally. There are tens of thousands of really bad educational games.

Please don't try to sell me any magic SEO tricks. I get enough offers for those in my spam folder and I suspect if those tricks worked so well they wouldn't need to be sending me spam.

I've also had offers from people to do marketing consulting for me for $80- $100,000 a year.

The main thing that has worked for selling our games, or even getting people to try them, has been, and you will laugh when you read this - just asking random people on the Internet. 

Yes, it's true.

 What is related to our sales or free downloads going up is just putting up blog posts or Facebook posts and asking people like you to try out our games. Tomorrow is International Women's Day and I am trying to get 1,000 downloads just because I think that is a nice round number and it would show support for a business co-founded by two women in an industry that is very often not women-friendly. (Just read the tech news if you don't believe me.)

So, I'm asking three things.

First, please head over here and download a game. Buy one, download a free one or play Making Camp online. Check us out. If you like us, give us a nice review on Google Play or iTunes.

Second, subscribe to our youtube channel. We're interested in your comments on that, too.

Third, any suggestions that you have for getting the word out on our games, I'm truly interested, just as long as they don't involve porn or SEO.
------ NOTE ----

Over on Facebook, two people suggested we should sell t-shirts. Not letting any grass grow under my feet, here you go:

I was serious as a heart attack when I said I wanted your suggestions.
By popular demand - many fans of 7 Generation Games' Native American story lines, success in raising student math scores and merging math and history have wanted to support our work but they don't have children at home or work in schools. We've received requests for our staff t-shirts from people who might be great staff members but they live a thousand miles away. Here is your chance! Get the most popular shirt in the 7 Generation Games office, as rocked by Luis and AnnMaria and our youtube channel and soon to be reality TV show.
You can now buy the shirts here.

Friday, February 24, 2017

For Fuck's Sake, Quit Letting Fear Control Your Life

An interviewer asked me,
 "When was the last time you were afraid?"

I answered him honestly,

"I don't think I have been afraid for a very, very long time. Not since I was a child, because I figured out early on, that is how people control you."

I remember precisely. I was 8.

Yeah, pretty crazy, but a lot of stuff in my life that seemed normal at the time is kind of insane when I look back on it. That's another story, though.

When I was in juvenile hall, this belief was even more confirmed. They find out what you are afraid of - being locked in solitary, handcuffed - whatever it is - and then they threaten you with that.

It's not that stuff didn't hurt. I was a 14-year-old girl with my hands handcuffed behind my back having a full grown man who was a guard punch me in the face. Yeah, it hurt. That's why I don't talk about this stuff very much, because it totally sucked. It's why I don't write my autobiography - because who wants to relive that shit?

I'm talking about it today, though, because I see too many people living lives that are dominated by fear, even if they won't admit it to themselves.

  • I'm afraid we won't get along if we work together.
  • I'm afraid of what people will say if I quit my job.
  • I'm afraid no one will love me if I break up with my boyfriend/girlfriend .
  • I'm afraid I'll lose everything if I start a business.
  • I'm afraid immigrants will take my jobs if we let them in the country.
  • I'm afraid Muslims will kill me if we let them in the country.
  • I'm afraid my mother won't love me if I say honestly what I think.
  • I'm afraid my children won't respect me if I admit I made mistakes.
  • I'm afraid if I leave this group of friends I'll never find real friends again.

I could go on and on and on.

When did we become such cowards?

If I was afraid of something, I would do it and then I wouldn't be afraid any more. The worst thing that you think will happen probably won't and even if it does, you'll survive it and be stronger.

God, just stop!  If I could do it when I was 8, you can sure the fuck do it now at however old you are.

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Judo stunt workout

Friday it was pouring rain in Los Angeles. Not many kids came to practice and I can't blame them. Some of our kids ride their bikes or skateboard to get to practice and we got several inches of rain. They would have arrived cold and soaked to the skin. Other kids are dropped off by their parents or take the bus but, possibly because some trees had downed power lines, many stop lights were out causing major traffic jams. Practice was over at 5 PM and I didn't get home until 8 PM. Now, I did stop over at another school and meet with someone for half an hour, but still it was pretty crazy because I only live 17 miles from the school.

So, it seemed like a perfect day to do some new fun drills.

It may not be obvious what we are doing from this video.


Did you ever think about the fact that o soto makikomi  is a perfect throw if you are fighting more than one person? I've noticed when working with people who do stunts in the movies that this is one of the throws they like because as you are going to grab the person's head you can throw punch and hit someone behind you or to the side. Thus, it's a great throw for one of those fight scenes in the movies when you are attacked by multiple villains.


As you can see, the person doing the throwing gets practice doing a good judo throw and the focus on punching someone to the side gets them to get that arm around the head which students often seem to not get far enough. The further around the head you can get, the tighter the throw is going to be.

At the same time, that the person is working on their throw,   the one being  "punched"  is working on his or her falls. Now, falling probably isn't the most fun skill to work on as a general rule, this activity makes it fun. Also, I know that the ability to fall without hurting yourself is really useful to people doing stunt work.

So, there you have it, a fun drill for a rainy day, that teaches good form for throwing and falling.

 When I'm not teaching judo, I make awesome video games that teach math and history and are fun to play. You should check them out. Some of them are even free. Whether you have a Mac, Windows, iPad or android, we've got you covered.

Saturday, February 11, 2017

Manny Gamburyan Gives Private Clinic for Gompers Judo

I've seen Manny Gamburyan coach kids many times and I know what a rapport he has with kids like our Gompers Judo team - that is, they are attentive, respectful and interested in learning judo. When I heard he was available for private lessons and clinics, I contacted him the same day.

I often hear judo coaches complain about the difficulty of retaining teenagers in the sport but I don't always see them making an effort to understand what might be of interest to that age group. Manny is someone they have seen on TV and he is a lot closer to their age than I am! He has shown how judo can apply outside of tournaments in his ten-year career in the UFC.

It was a GREAT clinic. He started by asking students what they wanted to learn and when they said, "matwork" (kids after my own heart) he showed a pin and a choke.

I then asked him to show a throw.

Then, he gave the students a pep talk about staying in judo and about becoming a more respectful person, giving examples from when he was young and not as respectful as he felt he should be, and learning to be more mature.

We are at a middle school and many students came over from the gym and sat watching for the whole hour and a half class, waiting patiently to get an autograph, a selfie or a picture for instagram. Manny stayed for an extra half-hour and talked to every single kid, signed every autograph.

I am old. I admit it because it's true. It's nice to have someone young come to practice, randori with the students and give  fresh perspective.

It was GREAT.

I'm not sure how you contact Manny to get a clinic or private lessons if you don't have his number, but you can tweet to him @mannygamburyan on twitter.
or you can call or text me and if I know you're not a weirdo I'll give you his contact information.

When I'm not teaching judo, I'm making games. Please check them out. You can learn math, social studies, build your vocabulary.  Here are some free games and demos for you just because I am so nice. (Manny has been a good influence.)

Monday, February 6, 2017

Choking Makes Me Happy

I'm not sure why this choking drill made me so happy on Friday, but it did.


Maybe it is because it reminded me of when I taught it to my daughter, Ronda, when she as that age.

Maybe it reminded me of all of the times my friend, Tina Thomas, and I ran through it at Venice Dojo just for the hell of it  - so often that Gary Butts took to calling it the "Rousey Roll".

Maybe it's because I remember all of the times I did it in tournaments, starting from when I was 13 years old - old enough to choke but not old enough yet to do arm bars.

Maybe it is because I've been working so much the last several weeks that I am happy just to be on the mat, outside, anywhere but adding one more reference to a report, writing another paragraph, staring at another budget.

More likely, it is all of those things. I don't know. I just know that sometimes, choking people makes me happy - even people I like!

My day job is making video games. Support me by buying a game or donating one to a school. Give it to anyone you'd like to be smarter.

Fish Lake runs on Mac and Windows

Forgotten Trail on Chromebook, Windows, Mac

Making Camp on iTunes and Google Play

Friday, February 3, 2017

Government Bureaucrats are Braver Than Me

I've worked with federal employees for most of the past thirty years. I have found most of them to be conscientious, competent and sincere in their belief that they are working for the good of their country. This stereotype of people raking in huge salaries doing very little work has never fit with my experience.

So, I'm not a big hater on government bureaucrats, but still, "brave" was one of the last adjectives I'd use to describe them.

Most people I've seen who spend a career in big government, big business, big universities or any other "big" go along to get along. They are comfortable with following the rules from the top down. After doing their job and following orders for a couple of decades, they can retire with a pension. That's the deal.

Lately, though, I have seen people I know making major steps outside of their comfort zone. Of course, Sally Yates, who was fired for refusing to enforce an executive order she believed indefensible, was the highest profile.

However, there are other people I know who just quietly left their jobs because they felt that the policies they would be expected to enforce were immoral.

Think about that for a minute. Whatever you believe - whether you adamantly are sure that abortion is murder and a sin or you think that women have the right to choose what happens to their own bodies - however you come down on any side of a moral issue - would you really quit your job over it?

Think how often have we seen people doing things we think are horrible, whether it is foreclosing on a family farm or refusing an elder medical care that would make their life less painful because "It's my job."

It would have been so easy for the people who quit those jobs to say,

"I need to think about my family. I have kids in college, a mortgage. I could lose my house. My children need an education. What can I do?"

But they didn't. That took bravery. They are braver than me because, as we all know, it's pretty much an instinctive reflex for me to tell anyone who wants me to put up with unethical behavior to go fuck themselves.  For these people, it was out of character and it took a lot of courage.

On Tuesday, we were recording next week's podcast (not up yet, but you can listen to all of our other podcasts here) and for a moment, Maria and I discussed whether it was a bad idea to be too outspoken about how loathsome we believe the immigration ban is, how I feel not having the Joint Chiefs of Staff on the National Security Council is wrong and a lot more. Then, I thought of Sally Yates, of the anonymous civil servants I knew who had quit their jobs because it violated their conscience. So, I leaned into the microphone and said,

I call bullshit on all of you people who said, 'Oh, we're not against immigrants, just illegal immigrants.' Well, FUCK YOU because you are a liar. You can't change it now. Sixty days ago you were fine with legal immigrants who had done everything right to get into this country but now, today, you're not? Go fuck yourself!  Oh, now, it's brown immigrants you're against. If they're not the same color or religion as you, even if they are legal, even if they did everything right and waited all of  those years like you said two months ago, that you were okay with them then, NOW all of a sudden only certain legal immigrants are okay? Well, FUCK YOU, for denying entry  to the United States people who risked their lives as interpreters for us.

Yes, Maria waived the one swear word per episode rule for this.

So... maybe fewer people will buy our games. That is the tiniest sacrifice compared to giving up your job, your pension, your certain future and your quiet life.

Honestly, look in the mirror and ask yourself, would you really quit your job because it violated your ethics, your morals?  I'm finding that some unexpected people would and it gives me some faith back in humanity.

If you still want to buy our games, you can find them here. Get smarter, have fun. Learn math and social studies. Donate to a school. Donate in the name of your favorite politician, or Betsy Devos.