So earlier this week, the world’s top gymnast, Simone Biles, pulled out of the team competition at the Olympics in Tokyo. She basically sited not a physical injury, but more of an emotional, mental state as the reason why she was backing out of the team competition. Biles decided on Wednesday that she couldn’t compete in the individual gymnastic events either, citing her mental health as the reason to pull out.
Apparently, the whole thing came about when she messed up on a jump or something. Look, I’ll be the first to admit, I’m not a huge Olympics fan, and certainly don’t know squat about gymnastics. I’ve heard of Simone Biles before, but that’s about as far as it goes. But from what I can piece together without spending hours in front of the television, she blew a jump or a dismount or something and something inside her snapped. She decided for her sanity to back away.
I get it that she was under tremendous pressure to perform, and had literally the weight of the world watching on her shoulders. But she is the one that chose this path. I didn’t tell her to do this and neither did you. She’s the one that got up at 4am to train every day. She’s the one that has risen to the top of her “profession”, if you can call gymnastics a profession. And she had a whole team, nay, a whole country riding on her abilities to exceed and bring home the gold.
People have asked me this week why I’m not into the Olympics. Fair question. Actually I’m to the point where the Olympics has become this quadrennial event where, like with the NBA, and MLB, you’re getting politics thrown into the mix. Politics and sports don’t mix, period. I don’t care what any sports figure thinks about politics, just like I don’t care what any politician thinks about sports. The two don’t go together any better than ketchup and peanut butter. And frankly, I get tired of seeing these athletes, thinking that they need to celebrate this cause by kneeling during the awards ceremony, or the national anthem at their games. That’s just garbage. You are at the friggin’ Olympics. You are representing your country. And if you’re not able to do that proudly, go home.
That’s not the case with Simone Biles. She snapped. All of the pressure came to bear on her at the worst possible time, I get that. But to turn your back on your teammates that were counting on you to help them to victory is not a team player. It would have been different if she were physically unable to perform, if she sprained an ankle or something, I get that. Mary Lou Retton even performed with her ankle all taped up, remember? This wasn’t close to that. If mentally you’re not prepared to handle the pressure and the scrutiny of the task, you shouldn’t be there. To back out during the competition is like Michael Jordon walking off the court in game 7 of the NBA Finals in the fourth quarter of a tied game. Real winners fight through the pain, either physical or mental. You never see true star athletes back away.
Now, I realize this isn’t going to be the most popular blog I’ve written, and to be honest, I’ve thought about it for a few days before writing this. I’m certainly not the most qualified person to be writing this either. And while the rest of the world cheers Biles for her “fortitude” in coming to bear with the pressure or the mental state she’s in, I have to take a different stance. You don’t quit at the highest level of your sport when it’s all on the line. She did.
Carry on world…you’re dismissed!