The whole Simone Biles wanna-go-home-now psychic meltdown reminded me of a meme I created a couple of months ago after another one of those airplane meltdowns to make the national news.
The analogy is “then” and “now.”
Simone Biles will not make any immediate decisions about any further participation in these Olympics after she withdrew from the women’s team final mid-competition at the Tokyo Games on Tuesday, citing mental health concerns.
“We’re going to see about Thursday, we’ll take it a day at a time,” said Biles of her prospects of lining up in the individual all-around final. “I know tomorrow [Wednesday] we have a bit of a break from training so that’ll be really nice, to have a mental rest day.”
The four-times Olympic champion explained that she decided not to compete as she had been struggling mentally in recent days and after a difficult opening vault, so she decided that she wanted to “take a back seat” with full faith in her teammates to win a medal. When asked later what her goal was for these Games, Biles replied: “To focus on my wellbeing. You know there’s more to life than just gymnastics.”
The internet uproar that greeted Biles’ psychological surrender is predictable and entirely understandable. I too had a preconceived notion that Olympics-tier athletes were in a class of their own. In addition to superhuman physical abilities, I expected that similar mental resiliency would follow suit.
Apparently not, based on what happened in Tokyo. Olympic athletics is not a military venture, is it?
These are athletes, not soldiers.
Perhaps it could be that accusing these athletes of “weakness” is not fair and maybe it misses the mark. It’s not weakness or lack of backbone that we’re blaming.
It’s about this thing called “headspace” people toss around so cavalierly and self-importantly.
Maybe these young athletes have too much space in their head and not enough in their heart.