LSU gymnast Olivia "Livvy" Dunne has made a name and platform for herself after joining social media app TikTok in 2020. However, the increase in the Division I athlete's popularity may be a cause for concern when it comes to safety at events.
The NCAA made an announcement in June 2021 allowing college athletes to make their own money and profit off their fame after the Supreme Court ruled that amateur players be compensated, according to The New York Times. Now, how did this affect Dunne?
LSU's Star Gymnast Brings Unprecedented Amount of Fans
Dunne has become one of, if not the most, popular college athlete and can now benefit from the profits. She is the most followed NCAA athlete on social media, according to her official website. Which, that alone should tell you about her status as a celeb college athlete. How many college athletes have an official website dedicated to them that marks their followers real time?
Her popularity, undeniably comprised of a large male population, has led to some security concerns at sporting events and competitions.
During a gymnastics meet kicking off the season at the Jon M. Huntsman Center in Salt Lake City, a disruptive group of Tigers fans filled the room in support of Dunne. Holding signs and even cardboard cutouts of her, despite her not being in the lineup, according to FoxSports.
The groups of boys at the event were described as "rude" and "disrespectful" by Jillian Hoffman's mom, Jennifer, according to FoxSports. During other gymnasts performances, the group began chanting "We want Livvy! Give us Livvy!" Disrupting other competitors and distracting them, which given the intensity of the sport, could have caused serious injuries.
ESPN analyst Sam Peszek, who was in the 2008 U.S. Olympic's gymnastics team, tweeted a video of the chanting.
"This is actually so scary and disturbing and cringey," Peszek said in the tweet. "I'm embarrassed for them."
LSU is now increasing security at events following the incident.
"We will have security detail with us now when we go on the road and we will be working to create a perimeter around where we get on the bus, where we load," LSU head coach Jay Clark said, according to ESPN.
In a Tweet earlier in the day, Josh Furlong of KSL.com Sports said there was, "a line outside of the Huntsman Center of teenage boys that keep asking if Livvy is coming out."
Dunne Responds to Her "Fans"
Following the event, Dunne took to Twitter to express her concerns saying, "I will always appreciate and love the support from you guys, but if you come to a meet, I want to ask you to please be respectful of the other gymnasts and the gymnastics community as we are just doing our job."
This, as I would call it, "obsession" with Dunne started on TikTok where boys would fawn over her in the comments, but now as they are bringing the same energy to in person meets, Dunne and fellow competitors now have to deal with similar pressures and attention that many celebrities now face.
In terms of how LSU will handle the situation, Clark said security at home events will be slightly modified.
"We are going to change some of the policies of allowing the girls to go into the stands immediately following a meet," Clark said, according to ESPN. "We've always allowed them to go up there post-meet with their families and interact with them. We want to make sure we still provide them with that time with their families, but there won't be any more going into the stands and there will be a limited amount of time that they can interact with the fans in the stands over the rail and that will be monitored closely."
This whole situation brings into question whether other schools should be implementing similar security and how the team will handle away games moving forward.
There are plenty of other college athletes with a large fanbase, and although they don't seem to have quite the same crazed fans, it will be interesting to see if other schools begin to up their security to prevent similar encounters.
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