Who Olivia Dunne is and why does her college gymnastics team require additional fan protection?

Posted by Gareth Earl on

Young men's screams for Olivia Dunne, a college gymnast, have been described as "scary, disturbing, and cringey," and the gymnast herself has advised them to treat her with respect.

Outside of a meet between Dunne's Louisiana State University (LSU) and Utah, where she did not actually compete, fans chanted "give us Livvy" and "we want her."

While fans in the stands chanted for Dunne and held up signs and even a cardboard cutout of her on the red carpet at the ESPY sport awards, she was standing on the side of the mat cheering on her teammates during their weekend's season-opening loss to Utah.

After the competition, the 20-year-old was seen taking selfies with the fans, but he was unhappy with how they behaved.

"LSU without Livvy isn't even top 25" was written on one of the stands' signs, referring to the sixth-place ranking of Dunne's college and using her social media handle.

Samantha Pezsek, the gymnast who won a silver medal at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and is now a broadcaster, posted a video of the scenes that greeted her as she left the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City. She described the manner in which the fans were clamoring for Dunne as "so scary and disturbing."

Kathy Johnson Clarke, a commentator who has won two Olympic medals, said that she was also disturbed by the people's desperate search for Dunne at the arena.

"They were yelling at me, "Are you the mother of Livvy?" Are you the mother of Livvy? She sent tweets.

LSU coach Jay Clark informed the local media that a security officer would travel with the team for the remainder of the season, and local reporter Josh Furlong reported that LSU had to relocate their team bus and employ police as security to avoid the group.

According to what he stated to The New Orleans Advocate/Times-Picayune, "[They] will be there to create a perimeter that keeps everyone safe."

"We don't want to bury our heads in the sand, but we do want to be accessible to our fans with kids and autographs. We want to guarantee that no one is ever in danger.

He stated that gymnasts entering the stands to greet family and friends could not continue unless fans were controlled.

"Things must alter. Clark stated, "We just can't expose them."

"We're looking into some policy changes that will give parents access to their daughters in a different location."

So, Olivia Dunne, who is she, and how did the fandom become so raucous?

Is Olivia Dunne real?

When Louisiana State University (LSU) selected the gymnast, she was about 10 or 11 years old and on the elite path to the Olympic level.

Despite the fact that, given a little bit of perspective, she has stated that she was pleased to avoid the "dysfunctional" US Gymnastics program, injury stifled her Olympic dreams, as it did for many other top junior gymnasts.

In an interview with Barstool Sports, she stated, "I got hurt when I was 15 or 16."

"I kind of realized, maybe this is not for me anymore and maybe I should just go to college and be healthy and happy," I said. "My bone had died in my ankle and it fractured."

She claimed that when she posted videos during the COVID-19 quarantine on Instagram and TikTok, she caused a stir. This led to brand deals and lucrative contracts with management agencies, which increased her profile even further.

However, that would not have been an option just a few years ago.

The justification for not paying college athletes in the United States at first appeared to be sound enough: they were never allowed to make money from their activities.

It's a horrible idea to put actual children at the center of bidding wars, and if the largest schools could just pay the most for the best athletes, they would always win.

However, the first part of the term "student athlete" took a back seat for many when the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) competitions became some of the most profitable from a broadcast and gambling perspective.

Many college stars continue to study, and, like Dunne, a communications major, they can be recognized for their superior academic performance by being placed on the academic honor rolls of student-athletes.
However, there are only 24 hours in a day, and training often takes precedence when big money is at stake, especially in sports like basketball and football.

When a well-paid coach was unable to purchase lunch for an overworked student who was hungry, the archaic and obscure rules became even more noxious.

The fact that the majority of athletes, particularly in football and basketball, were young black men who were not being paid for their services added to the uneasy tension. Numerous coaches and staff members were wealthy, white men.

Therefore, in 2021, the regulations were altered to permit college athletes in the United States to reap some reward for themselves after decades of unpaid athletes earning millions of dollars for their schools and repeatedly facing opposition from higher-ups at the NCAA.

Changes to the NIL (or name, image, likeness) rule allowed amateur athletes, who train like pros and achieve impossibly high fame, to actually earn a living wage from outside sources.

One of the most likely beneficiaries of these new NIL measures was immediately identified as Dunne, who has just under 10 million TikTok and Instagram followers.

According to brand data tracker On3, Dunne signed with activewear company Vuori just a few days after brand deals were allowed. From there, he has continued his career, ranking seventh among college athletes in terms of NIL-earning potential.

The only women in the top 30 are she and Sunisa Lee, a gymnast and Olympic gold medalist who is ranked 12th.

Dunne is not ignorant about the negative aspects of that fame.

She knows that her looks are a big part of why she is the most famous college gymnast in the country, despite her incredible talent.

She told Barstool that the first videos of her doing flips on a beach went viral, and she added, laughing, "in a bikini, in slow-motion."

In the same Barstool interview, she joked about how he should stop the interview when she said she had a boyfriend and laughed off one of the interviewers' questions about buying her bath water.

She was just 18 at the time.

On social media posts by her and LSU Gymnastics, there are a lot of sexually explicit comments about Dunne, as well as comments that only focus on her and make fun of or disrespect her teammates.

Dunne has frequently attempted to refocus on other people by praising LSU teammates and US Olympic medalists like Lee and Simone Biles.

She must, however, remain active and post on social media because her income and fame are so dependent on it.

It is hoped that the ugly portion will remain on the right side of the barricades.

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