Simone Biles has done what she has done in the sport. Though she is held to a higher standard as a heroic Olympian, I hope she doesn’t lose her mind. Whatever the set back, I always hope people recover from it. Still, after withdrawing from competition Simone Biles’ brand takes a huge hit.
Today the general public throws around the phrase mental health. Every other week you hear mental health this and that. Honestly, most people are not under that much pressure. Their jobs expect little from of them. Stress is intense but all stress is not pressure.
Then you have athletes, largely considered heroes in many nations. These people are under immense pressure. Trade offs for this brief but intense lifestyle are money, praise, fame, validation, visibility, and historical relevance earned through years of focus and execution.
Simone Biles is a human being. We the people are not entitled to an explanation from Simone Biles as a general woman walking this earth.
Civilians however will not accept an athlete withdrawing from a competition because of “mental health” with no further explanation. Because we do not know what exactly spooked or disturbed her, she is not entitled to our grace as an athlete.
Olympic athletes represent us all, and onlookers expect you to endure what they do and then some. Pay check to pay check Americans show up to work every day with syndromes and pain. People’s children and spouses die and they have to show up and not make a scene. Cancer patients have their finger nails fall off and have to tough it out just to get by.
Average people can’t leave work in the middle of the day and say, “boss, I’m not feeling it today I’m going home. I don’t know when I’ll be back or if I am coming back but don’t fire me. I still want to be paid and respected and seen as dependable going forward, but I refuse to work because of my mental health.”
As much as I hope she is ok, Biles’ brand takes a huge hit after pulling out. I have to explain the resentment of many fans who are reacting based on their experiences. Everyone would love to do what Biles did when they feel the way she feels. However, when civilians get sick their bosses want a doctor’s note etc. As a person, she has to do what she has to do. As an athlete there are consequences for her actions.
Her situation is not unique. Athletes act brand new with the spotlight all the time. When we’re telling them they’re special and they’re better than other people, athletes accept it. Once they start to have problems or get old, all of the sudden no one understands how hard it is, and the attention is too much for them.
Notice, the money is never too much at any point. Few public figures cancel or withdraw from their endorsements. The validation of being a superior performer is never too much until they decide arbitrarily that the trade off isn’t beneficial anymore.
These athletes put so much more into their training. They sacrifice so much more to be special within the special. Thus, we expect them to endure and succeed the way others cannot. If they can’t keep it together when the spotlights are on, what are we even watching for?
Something to think about as we learn more about Biles’ situation.
Starts every morning with an obscene amount of black coffee & a nice long look in the mirror. Always puts him in a good mood. Product of Chicago and SMU that likes to talk sports and drink a lot so that he stays healthy and hydrated.
If you’re reading this, I’ve likely done a tremendous job.
As you were,
September’s Very Own