What, you thought it was for her country?
After dropping out of the team, and subsequently all individual competitions except the balance beam due to what she ascribed to a case of the twisties, Simone Biles avenged her poor (by her standards) bronze medal on the balance beam in the 2016 Rio Olympics by winning the … bronze medal on the balance beam in the
2020 2021 Tokyo Olympics. After the competition Biles had this to say:
“It wasn’t easy pulling out of all those competitions. People just thought it was easy, but I physically and mentally was not in the right head space, and I didn’t want to jeopardize my health and my safety because at the end of the day, it’s not worth it.
“My mental and physical health is above all medals that I could ever win. So to be clear, to do beam, which I didn’t think I was going to be, just meant the world to be back out there. And I wasn’t expecting to walk away with the medal. I was just going out there doing this for me.”
Biles’ comments bring back memories of Super Bowl LI, when with 8:31 left in the third quarter the Atlanta Falcons scored a touchdown to take their lead over the New England Patriots to 28-3. After receiving the subsequent kickoff, Patriots quarterback Tom Brady gathered his teammates around him. With weary resignation, he sighed, “Guys, I know we’ve all worked hard for years – decades, really, going back to college and high school and Pop Warner for most of us – to reach this level. But look. Most of us have already won the Super Bowl one or more times. I’m sorry for those of you from whom this is your first, and maybe last, time here. But I’m just not feeling it today. People are already calling me the G.O.A.T. What have I got to prove? Besides, I’m embarrassed. I threw a freakin’ pick-six in the first half! I’ve never done that in the Super Bowl before! I just don’t have it today. I’m mailing it in for the rest of the game. Come on, let’s pretend to run some plays.”
Wait, that wasn’t how it went down? So what happened … oh.
While I disagree with labeling Biles soft or a quitter, the entire post-incident aftershocks highlight the disease of conceit permeating both sports and society. No one labels a golfer soft when they get a case of the yips. Instead, the universal reaction is that sucks and we’re pulling for you … but you have to either fight through and vanquish it or quit. There is no third option. There is no patting on the head and labeling someone a hero for admitting the truth without him or her immediately declaring they will not let this define or defeat him or her. As the song says, to fall is not to fail. Failure isn’t about falling down. Failure is staying down … and trolling for there-theres.
Simone Biles is the greatest female gymnast in history. Period. No one has, can, or in all likelihood will be capable of her athletic prowess. She has proven it time and again. She has put in the work. And she is currently trashing her own legacy by behaving like a spoiled social media “influencer” by playing to the crowd for sympathy. Did she falter on purpose? Of course not. Is she doing everything since faltering wrong? Definitely. Biles could have said I’ve got the twisties, I can’t get through them right now, I need some time, I’m deeply sorry, I apologize, I’m going to go home and fight this thing. Instead, it’s been a parade demanding one and all shine the spotlight on her pity party. It’s gotten very old very quickly.
I sincerely pray Biles finds the refuge and strength available solely through her faith to fight the past demons and discard her present self-absorbed silliness. Then, come back and nail that vault like never before. In the meantime, please stop talking.