Olympics

Simone Biles Doesn't Exist To Make America Proud

It isn't an embarrassment. It isn't heroism. It just is.

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Simone Biles, broadly understood to be the best gymnast of all time, withdrew on Tuesday from the Olympic team event, citing a medical condition. With Biles at the helm, Team USA was favored to win the top prize; without her as anchor, her three colleagues snagged second-best to Russia. Today, Biles announced she will also abstain from the all-around final, a competition she was almost without question expected to win.  

That medical condition, Biles later revealed, was her mental health. Her disclosure elicited widespread encouragement, but also widespread scorn. "Simone Biles is a quitter," said Ben Maller of Fox Sports. "Are 'mental health issues' now the go-to excuse for any poor performance in elite sport?" asked British commentator Piers Morgan. "What a joke." UFC fighter Michael Bisping distilled it down in a tweet that generated a heap of positive engagement: "Quitters Never Win."

All told, those criticisms were relatively mild compared to some of the darker corners of American punditry. Simone Biles is a "selfish sociopath" and a "shame to the country," said the right-wing provocateur Charlie Kirk. "What an absolute embarrassment," noted The Daily Wire's Matt Walsh, who prides himself on his Christian commentary. "But in some ways an appropriate representation of a country that has gone soft."

Many others came to her defense. Though Biles simplified it as a mental health issue, the way that manifested, she said, was with the "twisties," a little-known disconnect experienced by some gymnasts where you lose control of your body mid-stunt, unable to tell your limbs to twist in the way they usually do. 

For Biles, those mental gymnastics come with some life-threatening consequences, when considering the gymnast's repertoire is, by far, the most hazardous of all time—so much so that her judging potential, partially determined by difficulty level, was downgraded to disincentivize other gymnasts from even attempting the maneuvers she takes on. Her signature move—the "Biles"—is a triple-twisting double tuck that sees her careen through the air with more contortions than ever performed by any other human being.

In other words, the stakes of Biles' routine are high. She could, for instance, land on her neck. And Biles is old for gymnastics: At the ripe age of 24, she calls herself the "grandma" of Team USA, in a sport where some of her competitors are almost a decade younger. 

Those familiar with the competition were thus quick to defend the decision as magnanimous. She was actually helping the team, some said, as the score she posted on vault—the warmup event she did before withdrawing—was a 13.766, so low that, had she continued along that line, a medal may have been out of the question entirely. "I am not going to lose a medal for this country and these girls," said Biles, "because they've worked way too hard to have me go out there and lose a medal." Others took it a step further, deeming it heroism, or, as The New Yorker put it, "radical courage."

But I'm not interested in those arguments. Here's what I am interested in: the very simple and radical idea that Biles' decision was hers to make, because she doesn't owe viewers, or the country, anything at all. No one is entitled to her performance simply because she is the best in the U.S.—and the world—at a sport. It isn't an embarrassment. It isn't heroism. It just is.

Those reaming hardest into Biles were generally political types of the national conservative variety, a subset of right-wingers that place an obligatory allegiance to the nation above all else. Their demand that (some) individuals put country above self undergirds the entire ideology of "America First." 

Yet Simone Biles' team silver medal does not belong to the U.S. writ large just because she wears the country's colors on her leotard. Nor do her 25 World Championship medals—the most of any other female gymnast—or the 5 medals she earned at the 2016 games. They are hers. Kirk and Walsh did not help her get them, and they lose nothing by her not nabbing more this time around. 

The spectacle of the Olympics and the ensuing camaraderie can sometimes make us forget that we were not the ones to train for 16 years, the majority of Biles' short life, sacrificing a normal childhood and young adulthood for a grueling existence.

I assume Biles was expecting to be crowned the all-around winner for her second Olympic games, an exceptionally rare superlative in the sport. It won't happen. Although Biles is capable of some superhuman feats, she is, after all, still human. And that's fine.

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  1. YES, thank you.

    1. 100%
      Athletes should be free to walk away whenever they damn well please for whatever reason they please.

      Hell, I’d rather athletes walk away at the top of their game than hang on too long.

      1. She is free to walk away whenever she wants.

        Americans are free to say about her and her choice whatever they want.

        1. “Being miserable and treating other people like dirt is every New Yorker’s God-given right.”

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        2. “She is free to walk away whenever she wants”

          This is the USA Gymnastics contract athletes sign, agreeing to participate in their sport in exchange form cash and other valuable services of USA gymnastics

          Here is an important section of that agreement from the athlete:
          Recognizing the critically important role played by USA Gymnastics’ events in generating the funds necessary to support the Team, I will use my best efforts to participate in those national or international competitions and exhibitions to which I am
          invited or assigned by USA Gymnastics. …
          When I accept an invitation to compete in an event as a member of the Team, I will make every effort to perform to the best of my ability. I will participate for the full duration of the
          event unless I am excused by the head of delegation, High-Performance Team Coordinator, or program director. I also acknowledge that I understand that my participation in gymnastics competitions, exhibitions, and/or events that are not
          sanctioned by USA Gymnastics or the International Gymnastics Federation (FIG) may jeopardize my eligibility to participate in competitions sanctioned by the FIG.

          1. “Retirement or Inability to Compete. I will notify USA Gymnastics promptly if I decide to
            retire from the Team, or if I suffer any injury or illness which may prevent me from
            fulfilling my responsibilities as a member of the Team. In the event of such injury or
            illness, I agree to submit to all reasonable requests for examination or evaluation by
            medical personnel retained by USA Gymnastics.”

        3. Yup, and I’m free to say whatever I want about people saying whatever they want about an athlete doing whatever they want.

          And yeah, you can say whatever you want about me saying whatever I want about… well, you get the idea.

          The question at hand isn’t “what should people be legally allowed to say” but “Is [insert person] being an entitled dick demanding Biles do risky stunts for their amusement?”

          1. “Is [insert person] being an entitled dick demanding Biles do risky stunts for their amusement?”

            Probably no more than Biles is an exhibitionist and narcissist for performing the way she does.

            I never understood the compulsion of people to watch sports on TV, or the deference people have for Olympic athletes.

  2. Free speech only matters if you’re a preening leftie.

  3. Today, Biles announced she will also abstain from the all-around final, a competition she was almost without question expected to win.

    So… definitionally NOT the greatest gymnast of all time.

    1. She is objectively the most accomplished gymnast of all time, with the most gold medals and the highest scores. She has performed routines that no one else can yet do.

      All while being sexually assaulted by the Team USA doctor who was convicted for his actions.

      So, objectively, she doesn’t owe anyone, anything. She would be justified to walk out to the middle of the floor, give USA Gymnastics the middle finger, and take a 0.

      Instead, she had a mental breakdown, did not have the skills, training or support to manage it, and did the next best thing of benching herself.

      Toughing it out is what she did in qualifying where she looked like hell, and still had the highest score on the team.

      1. Guess her teammates don’t count…

        1. If you listened to any NBC coverage, no. It was all about Simone Biles from beginning to end.

      2. So, objectively, she doesn’t owe anyone, anything. She would be justified to walk out to the middle of the floor, give USA Gymnastics the middle finger, and take a 0.

        It makes me wonder why on earth she’d put herself through all this again if her mental health was really that bad. This is one of the highest-pressure environments you can imagine, she’s already accomplished everything one possibly could in the sport, and she’s 24 years old, which is getting up there in age for the upper echelons of women’s gymnastics.

        I agree with Billy that the social/mass media frenzy over this is incredibly stupid. She doesn’t really deserve to be vilified nor celebrated for this decision, but Zoomers and Millennials have adopted this pretense that mental illness, or even just general anxiety, is something that has to be put out front and center for everyone to see just like every other aspect of their personal lives.

        1. “It makes me wonder why on earth she’d put herself through all this again if her mental health was really that bad.”

          In what other environment can an entertainer like Biles command this many of the World’s eyeballs? And how many more opportunities to perform on this stage does a women of her age have?

          I understand why she showed up. She just got injured, is all. Mental health injuries often don’t show. Especially not like a snapped tibia.

          Hard for her. I hope she finds something else meaningful to her, to do with the very lengthy amount of time she likely still has left on this rock.

          1. The over 6 million she earned doing gymnastics will help her along the way of her long life ahead. If she invested it wisely she could live a good life just off what it made.

        2. My problem is that people are acting like her decision to step aside is some sort of heroic move. That’s been the coverage.

          The whole machine was so hyped-she was going to be utterly untouchable beyond anyone’s ability to compete with her. After she suffered a total mental collapse nobody seems to want to re-evaluate that and continue heaping praise on her.

          1. This. It’s really sports media’s crow to eat, not Biles. You can’t sell your audience that much unchecked hype and still call someone the GOAT after she does the exact opposite of live up to the hype. I feel bad for Biles because she gets to take all the crap for what was a massive misfire by sports media. One thing I hate about professional athletics is this hype game that gets played. The athletes have to talk big because that’s the only way they get any press. The humble ones never get any attention. No one is ever respected for being an amazing athlete who would deign to not act sociopathic about it. And the media adds to that crap tenfold. The end result is you’ve got guys like Connor McGregor who were fun to watch when they were on the up and now you’re just humiliated for buying pay-per-view to watch them crumble into an uninspiring mess. A more humble sports media could make the highs feel that much higher and the lows feel that much more bearable. But this overly prideful media just propagandizes you with hype and the celebration of narcissism and arrogance and then you end up red faced having to watch the “GOAT” walk away after the first minute over mental injury. Today’s professional sports media is just a special genre of humiliation porn.

    2. Keri Strug did the vault with an injured ankle landing on one foot… she preserved while Simone did not.

      Simone is great but to be the greatest you don’t throw in the towel when at the big dance. You take it to the next level for your team mates.

      1. Kerri Strug’s coach Bela Karolyi reportedly put immense pressure on her to do the vault even on a twisted ankle, and he was known for his severe methods and disregard for gymnastic injuries, so I really don’t think we can draw an equivalence.

        Suffering for the sake of one’s teammates is noble; likely paralyzing yourself for a gold medal (yours or someone else’s) is foolish and reckless.

        1. It was most likely the idea she would lose that made the decision. She is used to winning and the thought of a less then perfect performance was something she could not face. Being mentally strong enough to persevere to the end is what separates the true champions from the rest of the crowd. They do it for themselves.

  4. She let her team down. Performing under pressure is what athletes are supposed to do, and giving up to the point that you won’t even try is disgraceful.

    Incidentally, it isn’t just athletes that are expected to perform under pressure. People not being able to perform because of personal problems, stress, anxiety, or depression shouldn’t be fired for their failure to perform–unless they fail to tell their manager that they can’t perform beforehand.

    Don’t show up on game day, presentation time, or at a meeting with a client and tell your manager you haven’t been able to concentrate for a week so you can’t perform. The time to tell your manager you can’t concentrate is a week before game day–so he or she can find someone else.

    Failure to perform is just a failure. Knowing that you can’t perform ahead of time–and pulling out at the last minute–is sabotage. If she were actually trying to hurt her teammates chances of winning a team medal, she would have done the same thing. They prepared their whole lives for that.

    1. “so he or she can find someone else”

      That someone else was literally standing on the sidelines with her and ready to perform.

      Athletes get benched during games.

      And if a 24 year old athlete has a breakdown after years of psychological manipulation by USA Gymnastics, that’s on them.

      I’d blame NBC for fanning the flames with their stupid GOAT interview, but I’m sure this has been awesome for their ratings. Frankly it was brilliant on their part.

      1. USA Gymnastics and NBC?

        Surely, she has some manner of responsibility for her own choices.

        Sounds to me like she shouldn’t have been on the plane.

        Naomi Osaka pulled out of Wimbledon more than a month ago citing mental health issues. Bombing out at the Olympics appears to have been a foregone conclusion there, too. At some point, people become responsible for their own choices–even if something terrible happened to them.

        1. Simone Biles had the top overall score in qualifying and the team finished second to Russia.

          Simone Biles benched herself after the vault in finals and the team finished … second to Russia.

          Maybe USA Gymnastics should have put Jade Carey on the team instead of Chiles.

          “ As for the other members of the U.S., Carey finished in eighth with a 56.265, Skinner was 10th with a 55.398, McCallum is 12th with a 55.165 and Chilies, who struggled on bars and beam, is 38th with a 52.698.”

          Finals. Maybe it was Chiles that choked.
          “ 8:38 a.m. — Chiles stepped out of bounds early in her routine and proceeded to fall in the corner later in her routine. She scores an 11.700 on the floor. With a clean run, ROC can all but clinch the Olympic gold.”

          1. Did the team want to finish second to Russia, or did they want to win the gold?

            1. “Biles’ Exit Vaults Russia to Gold”

              Springboards also works.

          2. That’s Monday morning quarterbacking, though. Chiles is a fine athlete. Carey’s just doing better at the Olympics, but you couldn’t know that in advance.

        2. “ Sounds to me like she shouldn’t have been on the plane.”

          Oh does it? Well Ken. Next time who should have been on the plane. You should have been consulted.

      2. I’d blame NBC for fanning the flames with their stupid GOAT interview, but I’m sure this has been awesome for their ratings. Frankly it was brilliant on their part.

        I honestly don’t think there’s any more contemptible sector of the mainstream media than the jock-sniffing, stunted, hot-take spewing sports press. Honestly, instead of citing social anxiety, Osaka really should have just said, “You all are bunch of gossipy bitch queens, and I’m not going to waste my time playing gotcha games with you idiots.”

        1. Love ‘gossipy bitch queens’. The sports sector of mainstream media is People magazine level journalism.

          1. ^ 100%

        2. NBC made the whole thing about her from start to finish. They have been infatuated. Every opening shot and closing shot was Biles. If she wasn’t performing, they wanted to catch her reaction to the gymnast who was. It was unfair both to her and to her teammates who were unlucky enough to be stuck in her shadow while in their prime.

    2. Ken….We normally see eye to eye on things. We do not in this instance. Here is why I think you’re a little off the mark here.

      Simone Biles is twenty-four (yes 24) years old. She has been the best gymnast in the world for years now. She is only competing against herself for all practical purposes. For whatever reason, she lost her mental focus. The why or how is immaterial.

      To her credit, Biles displayed unusual maturity for her age by pulling the plug before she damaged Team USAs chances any further for any medal. Her vault was not good, and it is clear from the footage that she was not mentally/emotionally focused. The 24-year olds I see usually (stupidly) press on (and fail spectacularly) because they don’t have the smarts to back off and deal with setbacks. Hell Ken, I have 40-somethings and 50-somethings that work for me who don’t have the street smarts to back off and retrench.

      Maybe the 24-year olds where you live (CA?) are cut from a different cloth. But Simone Biles gets a huge pat on the back for having the smarts (and courage) to pull the plug. She did Team USA (and more importantly herself) a huge favor. Team USA will do Ok without her. There is no shame in saying, “Geez, I was a silver medalist in the Olympics”

      1. My point is that she shouldn’t have waited until it was too late to pull the plug.

        We agree that Project A is your responsibility, and you’ll have it done in one week–next Monday. I’m making plans and promises on the basis of that promise from you, and I pay you because I can depend on you keeping your promises.

        If you realize next Monday is a no-go by Wednesday, don’t wait until after the weekend and tell me on Monday–or I might fire you. Tell me on Wednesday and add some suggestions about what we need to do to get it ready by Monday, and I might think about giving you a raise.

        The time and resources spent on her could have and would have been invested in someone else.

        Treating her as if she’s a victim of forces beyond her control–when we’re talking about the choices she made–is to make assumptions about her capacity for decision making that are probably unfair.

        And the choice I’m criticizing isn’t that she decided not to put herself in an extremely situation. I’m talking about why she chose to be on the team and why she chose to get on the plane. You can’t think straight because you’re anxious or depressed or you have PTSD? I understand that. The team should do whatever they can so that you get the help that you need. We’re here to support you.

        Did you not have these problems three months ago? Did you not have these problems three weeks ago? Why didn’t she choose not to compete back then? Plans were made. Resources were invested. Time was lost. Now all the other women on the team had to settle for silver.

        You know what you win for coming in second place in commercial real estate? Your coworkers lose their jobs, some of them lose their homes, and their wives divorce them and take their kids. If they’re lucky, they get to keep their dog. We are responsible for the choices we make and the promises we don’t keep.

        1. What evidence do you have that she knew this in advance?

          She’s been there. She knew what to expect and knew what she was capable of. She, and everyone else, had every right to expect she would be able to perform. But the mental pressure of something is not always a think known in advance. Maybe she really thought she could do it, that she could push through. But once it became clear that pushing through would be worse, for her and the team, she let someone else who, in that time and compared to Biles in that state, was better.

          I agree… had she known for some time that she wasn’t ready, and in a way that wouldn’t go away once the games began (after all, butterflies don’t usually last after the first play) then sure… she did the team wrong (not the country… the article is right that she doesn’t owe “us” a damn thing). But the likelihood of that being the case with a professional (and not just any, but someone both experienced and the best) seems rather small.

          Can an athlete play through an injury? Sometimes, sure… and can do great things. And sometimes they play through the injury and suck. Simone knew (because of the scores she just got) that she was in the second category.

          She did the right thing.

          1. What evidence do you have that she knew this in advance?

            Did her choices cost her teammates the gold? If my team fails because of me, it’s my fault.

            What evidence do you have that she’s not responsible for the choices she makes?

            “She did the right thing.”

            She did the right thing by not putting herself in an extremely dangerous situation.

            She should have done the right thing much sooner than she did. That’s the point.

            1. Ken – It’s alright to admit you’re off base once in a while.

              Do you not think that the pressure she likely experienced in private before making the call was immense, such that her defiance of it in her own right was, indeed, a remarkable exercise of personal autonomy?

              Give her some due credit for chrissakes.

            2. Ken, I very much doubt that Biles actually knew for certain until that last vault. She was erratic, not her usual self, during the qualifiers. Doubt breeds. She probably was preoccupied between the qualifier and finals thinking about her performance. Then the vault and she knew. That shit happens in athletics.

              Your ‘Project A’ analogy is inapt because of the qualitative differences between the two scenarios.

              1. She revealed the trauma she experienced some three years ago? I have a hard time buying that this came on suddenly, but I find it practically impossible to believe that this was unavoidable. It can be hard to make the right choice, but this outcome is the result of choices she made weeks and months ago. And ultimately, if your choices hurt the team, that’s what they did.

                Progressives tell us that we’re innocent victims of the choices we make, and that’s why we shouldn’t be free to make choices for ourselves. We often make the wrong choice. It’s so mean to make people take responsibility for the negative consequences of their own choices!

                I find that logic abhorrent.

                Suffering the consequences of the choices we make doesn’t make us victims. Accepting full responsibility for the consequences of the choices we make is what makes freedom possible.

                Riding a motorcycle through traffic on the freeways of southern California requires a certain predisposition. People who imagine that everyone else is to blame for their problems–or that some negative consequences simply can’t be avoided–have no business riding a motorcycle, on a regular basis, through freeway traffic in Southern California.

                It isn’t enough to take responsibility for your own mistakes. You need to take responsibility for anticipating and avoiding the mistakes of others. This is why autonomous cars only getting in accidents when it’s some other driver’s fault doesn’t impress me. I’ve done better than autonomous cars for more than a decade. What good does it do me to know it was someone else’s fault–when I’m in a wheelchair for the rest of my life or they’re spreading my ashes in the Pacific ocean?

                There are no unavoidable motorcycle accidents. If a drunk driver hits me, it’s my fault. I should have anticipated and avoided it. Was I driving through a bar and entertainment district at closing time on a Saturday night? If I get run over by a drunk driver because I made a choice like that, the courts may say it legally wasn’t my fault. The insurance company may say it wasn’t my fault. If my friends and family say it was my fault for riding a motorcycle–they’re 100% right.

                People who think there is nothing you can do to avoid some motorcycle accidents are wrong, and for their own safety, they should stay off motorcycles. People who tend to blame other people for their problems should stay off of them, too. Ever meet someone whose life is a mess because of the choices they made, but somehow none of it is their fault? Those people should never be put in positions of authority where the choices they make impact the lives of their subordinates and coworkers.

                When you tell me that this gymnast isn’t responsible for the choices she made–even though she hurt her team with her choices–I find that hard to believe. If she apologized for hurting the team, then she did the right thing, and if the individuals on the team forgive her on a personal basis, that’s their prerogative. No one should pretend, however, that the choices we make that hurt our teammates aren’t our fault or that the negative consequences of our choices are somehow unavoidable.

                Agency is the essence of libertarian ethics, and mens rea is the only legitimate basis for libertarian crime. I am respectful of this gymnast’s agency ability to make choices for herself. We are legally obligated to respect the choices she makes, and anyone who willingly chooses to violate that obligation has committed a crime. She is morally responsible for the choices she makes, and to whatever extent her choices hurt her team, she is responsible for that.

                1. “I find that logic abhorrent.”

                  You prefer the logic of the ‘average American.’ Nothing less than gold is good enough for the average.

                  1. It’s the reason we were the most exceptional country on the planet. Now, this is what it means to be an American, a fucking victim. That is the apex people in this country are aiming at. This country, the Elite, and cunts like you deserve all the shit that is coming our way.

                    1. “this is what it means to be an American, a fucking victim”

                      Tell me how you are victimized by the actions or inactions of an Olympic gymnast.

        2. “My point is that she shouldn’t have waited until it was too late to pull the plug.”

          Chutzpah

          For you to say what she should or should not have done. What gall for you to say what this individual should make as her choice.

          1. All of ethics is about what should have been done. Are you saying rational discourse about ethics is impossible? Stop being ridiculous.

            1. “All of ethics is about what should have been done.”

              That’s closer to navel gazing. Ethics is about telling right from wrong.

      2. XY

        He is not just a little off the mark.

        He has no business telling off this young woman what to do with her life and her body.

    3. If you are so stressed that you literally can’t perform which is what happened in her case, she flubbed a few exercises that she normaly does with ease, then there is a time to walk away before you do hurt yourself and others. I have no problem with her realizing now is the time to quit even though its a bad time to quit.

    4. Sorry Mrs Jones, I’m having a bad week. Let me reschedule your cardiac surgery with someone who cares.

  5. Wait…there is an Olympics going on? Don’t care.

    1. That, too.

  6. USA Gymnastics sucked her dry.

    They overtly abused her for years.

    They set her up as both the symbol of sexual assault survivors and an unbeatable titan. Do you see Tom Brady holding a fcking GOAT in an interview before the super bowl? What coach thought that was a good idea? They coaxed her into saying she couldn’t imagine losing a competition.

    Then they completely failed to ensure she was supported psychologically.

    USA Gymnastics is the failure here, not Simone Biles.

    1. This seems like a reasonable take. I don’t know anything about her story, but if they managed to weave #metoo into her story and subsequently put pressure on her to win as some sort of “symbol” of overcoming adversity, then yes, I would agree that the US Gymastics team may have some culpability here.

      1. She was one of the gymnasts abused by Larry Nassar.

        One of the reasons she gave for not yet retiring was that she was the last of the Nassar victims still competing and she didn’t want his abuses to be swept under the rug.

        “The federation ignored the possibility that its brightest star had been sexually assaulted while in its care, walled her off from investigations—and she didn’t find out for years”

        https://www.wsj.com/articles/usa-gymnastics-was-investigating-larry-nassar-nobody-told-simone-biles-11574358875

      2. Please #metoo stopped being a thing when people found out about Tera Reed and Joe biden

        1. It was after Biden got the nomination. I vaguely recall Harris bringing it up in a debate when she (thought she) was in the running.

          1. It was before he got the nomination but after the establishment Dem candidates all dropped out at the same time so Biden could beat Bernie. Their hands were kinda tied.

    2. You know what. Fair point. She also recently had a family member charged with triple homicide. I guess the only criticism you could make is Biles was probably dealing with the mental stress well before she got out on the competition floor and she should have either told USA Gymnastics to slow their role or said “I can’t handle this stress right now, let’s give one of my very talented teammates a shot while I sit this one out.”

    3. Oh Puleeeze….
      This was the best gig possible for a trans-sexual dwarf in blackface….(I mean, who knows?)
      “They” is rich and famous because, because they’re very small, young and black, and can bounce good.
      The “Greatest Of All Time” ??? Let’s see the GOAT do flips over some Cretan Bulls.
      If she can’t do that, she not the greatest of all time. But it wasn’t such a big deal 3500 years ago.
      If you duel with Cyrano, and he runs you through, you are not the greatest fencer of all time, no matter how many medals you win.
      Live long enough and you will see a plethora of the “Greatest of All Time” athletes.

  7. UFC fighter Michael Bisping distilled it down in a tweet that generated a heap of positive engagement: “Quitters Never Win.”

    He is correct, she has won nothing.

    Simone Biles is a “selfish sociopath” and a “shame to the country,” said the right-wing provocateur Charlie Kirk.

    WHO?!!

    Though Biles simplified it as a mental health issue, the way that manifested, she said, was with the “twisties,” a little-known disconnect experienced by some gymnasts where you lose control of your body mid-stunt, unable to tell your limbs to twist in the way they usually do.

    For Biles, those mental gymnastics come with some life-threatening consequences, when considering the gymnast’s repertoire is, by far, the most hazardous of all time—so much so that her judging potential, partially determined by difficulty level, was downgraded to disincentivize other gymnasts from even attempting the maneuvers she takes on. Her signature move—the “Biles”—is a triple-twisting double tuck that sees her careen through the air with more contortions than any other human has ever performed.

    Going back to her mental health issues, I will not comment or attempt to armchair diagnose her condition. This all seems like a tempest in a teapot. Taking her at face value, that she is in fact suffering these conditions and not “faking an injury” to get out of a tough competition (as we’ve seen in some other sports), I support her decision to bow out 100%. But unfortunately, if she can’t perform– presuming for 100% legitimate reasons, then she’s not “the greatest gymnast of all time”, any more than a great, but perennially injured downhill skier who has to bow out of competitions due to knee problems is. It’s all part of the picture as a whole. If you can’t perform or compete, then you can’t win.

    I have no disagreement with the rest of the article.

    1. “If you can’t perform or compete, then you can’t win.”

      https://www.npr.org/2019/10/13/769896721/simone-biles-becomes-the-most-decorated-gymnast-in-world-championship-history

      and

      “There are currently four elements in the Women’s Artistic Gymnastics Code of Points named after American gymnast Simone Biles: one on vault, one on balance beam, and two on floor exercise.”

      She has a skill named after her that no one else has ever completed in competition.

      1. Big deal.

      2. Thank you for the detail on her background.

    2. WHO?!!

      Lol, that’s what I thought as well. Binion had to dig deep to find his evil right-winger quote.

      Apparently:

      * Charlie Kirk (born 24 December 1997) is an English professional footballer who plays as a winger for League One side Crewe Alexandra.

      * Charlie Kirk (born October 14, 1993)[3] is an American conservative activist. He founded Turning Point USA (what?) with Bill Montgomery (who?) in 2012.

      * Charles Kirk (1791–1847) was a builder and architect who worked on many buildings in Sleaford and South Lincolnshire, England.

      1. “Charlie Kirk, Piers Morgan slam Simone Biles as a “selfish sociopath” and “shame to the country”
        Right-wing media pundits rush to minimize an Olympic gold medalist and her mental health concerns”
        https://www.salon.com/2021/07/28/charlie-kirk-piers-morgan-slam-simone-biles-shes-a-selfish-sociopath-shame-to-the-country/

        Piers Morgan assigned to the right!

        1. Missed that, pretty rich about Morgan’s team reassignment.

          I “took one for the team”, so to speak, and actually read the Salon article. Apparently, Piers has “no respect for black women, going out of his way whenever he can to be nasty to any high profile black woman who struggle with their mental health” because he also criticized Princess Meghan and Naomi Osaka.

          So of course he’s a ‘right-wing media pundit’ now.

      2. Is the footballer a right winger?

        1. Hmmm… Have those three ever been seen at the same time…
          *rubs chin*

    3. Yea, if she has the yips that would certainly be a dangerous position for her as a gymnast.

      For once, it seems the Reason title/subhead got it right. Fair criticism is appropriate – she let her team down by committing then not following through, but it’s not disgraceful. It’s also not praiseworthy. It’s disappointing.

      I’m not going to criticize her mental fortitude – she’s been through some real stuff and shown previously she had the chops to perform in the highest pressure situations of her sport. She tried to give it a go and couldn’t. It happens. At the same time, I suspect the current zeitgeist created by the left in praising weakness and victimhood contributed to her struggle and failure to overcome it. They want a weak, codependent, and compliant populace, which isn’t good for anybody but the leftist vampires pushing it.

      There’s no virtue in falling off the horse. It’s getting back on that’s virtuous.

      1. Yeah, that’s been my thing. She’s not a bad person for choking, it says nothing about her as a person or a human being.

        What’s weird to me is that she choked and then the news hyped up how she’s some sort of legend for pulling out. No, the legendary thing would have been to somehow force her way through and recover her focus. Again, failing to be legendary isn’t really a failure, which is why we celebrate it when we see it-like Kerri Strug.

        I don’t blame her but I wish she’d stop being celebrated for choking. Nobody wrote about Bill Buckner heroically watching the ball shoot between his legs.

        1. That gets to that point about the left I was making.

          “Be a hero: give up… and let us run your life”

      2. This is something that really drives me crazy about progressives: their belief that being oppressed or marginalized (or simply belonging to a category thought to be oppressed/marginalized) confers virtue, wisdom, and insight. Perhaps you have some insight into the specific ways you’ve been marginalized (*if* you actually have been, and more often than not now that’s a pretty big if), but progressives have gone well beyond that. Now if you’re thought to be marginalized, you’re treated as some kind of magical, holy creature. It’s not real, and it actively strips people like Biles of their humanity, treating them as symbols or avatars instead of autonomous human beings, heroes simply for possessing the coveted status of victim. I would imagine that in her shoes, it would be difficult not to want to opt out of the whole rotten mess. Our culture and society right now is a narcissistic shitshow. What do any of us owe to it?

    4. UFC fighter Michael Bisping distilled it down in a tweet that generated a heap of positive engagement: “Quitters Never Win.”

      I read that “Retired MMA fighter who lost the belt to a guy who took 4 years off complains about other athletes taking time off.”

    5. Would she be such a GOAT Goddess, with all the media licking her arse, is she had but one difference…?
      That she was a white athlete pulling out of Olympic competition over her nerves.

  8. For Biles, those mental gymnastics come with some life-threatening consequences

    Yeah, seeing that she could very likely risk paralysis if her head’s not in the game, easy call to make. Might suck for all the associated people/businesses involved, but she’s the only one that’s going to end up in a wheelchair, not them.

    1. Surely, there must have been another way to avoid this–without screwing all the associated people/businesses involved at the last minute.

      1. I think it is fair to say that it is at least ill-advised if not completely inappropriate for us to try and pass judgement on her mental, and medical status from afar.

        Pretty much all we know is that she was having mental issues and that put her health and success in jeopardy. We don’t know if the mental issues were under her conscious control or not. We don’t know when they manifested, or to what extent the coaching staff knew about its status leading up to this.

        I am willing to give Biles the benefit of the doubt on this. She has proven over the past 10 – 12 years that she is absolutely capable of showing up at game time. She doesn’t strike me as a choker, and so if she says something was wrong and (most importantly) beyond her conscious control to fix, I lean towards believing her. At the least I am humble enough to believe that she and her coaching staff have more context than I ever will.

        1. When did she know she might not be able to hack it?

          1. At the age of 12, when nasser told her if you can’t suck cock you can’t compeate?
            Too soon for that joke?

          2. We don’t know for sure.

            But again, people make “game time” decisions for injuries all the time. How many times have we seen footballers or hockey stars sit out with an injury, go back in to try it out and only under game-time stresses realize that they just couldn’t make it work?

            I’m not saying that Biles has no responsibilities to her team, or even to the country. I’m even willing to entertain the idea that maybe she breached her responsibilities to her team or country- though I don’t think we will ever be privy to the facts necessary to make that determination.

            I do know that even if she absolutely choked and gave up, that does not make her a “selfish sociopath” or “shame to our country”. Pretty much everyone has had an off day at the job where we did not perform as well as we are capable. That doesn’t make us a sociopath. It makes us human.

            1. Anthony Davis, of the Lakers, is a recent example of trying to give it a go with a groin injury. Guy played 5 minutes, could barely move, and they had to pull him because it was clearly not going to improve. It’s debatable whether him trying to play hurt the team or had little effect, but they weren’t as good as the Sun’s either way.

              1. So, it was basically involuntary. He tried to play but couldn’t.

                He was probably a game time decision, too–by the coaches. They knew he was hurt.

                Did this gymnast become traumatized, anxious, or depressed sometime after she got on the plane to Japan? Sounds to me like this has been a long time coming.

                1. She tried to gut it out, like Davis did.
                  Was that a wise choice, or selfish?
                  Who knows, moot point.
                  It is what it is.
                  Disappointing, but not heroic.
                  And for the record, Davis made the decision himself.

                  1. The question, though, is would she have pulled out if she didn’t suck in the qualifiers as badly as she did?

                    Super easy to compete when you’re performing well.

                    1. And that question will always, fairly, hang over her head.

          3. She knew after her vault. Don’t try to make something out of this that isn’t there.

          4. Bruins goalie Tukka Raask (spelling) left the team just before or during the first COVID Stanley Cup playoffs for “my head is not in this” reasons.

            1. Finnish guys have the coolest names.

              I’m a hockey guy. Could you link to that?

              Has Tuukka Rask had concussions in the past?

              1. It was on the local sports radio show when it happened. Sorry this is WaPo but the first one I found and the first paragraph is consistent with what I recall:
                https://www.washingtonpost.com/sports/2020/08/15/bruins-tuukka-rask-opts-out-nhl-postseason/

                1. That appears to have been about the bubble–except for this:

                  “We understand completely where Tuukka is coming from,” Sweeney said. “I don’t think it’s any big surprise to us, to be honest. We were privy to some information before the rest of the public. This has been a difficult decision for Tuukka. But the Boston Bruins are in full support of why he made this decision.

                  —-Washington Post

                  It sounds like maybe he didn’t want to be in the bubble or maybe his wife wasn’t having it–not knowing when he’d be able to get out of the bubble again and his wife is stuck at home with a newborn without–for maybe months at a time.

                  I don’t know what information they were privy to that hadn’t hit the news, but if for whatever reason, within his control, if he let his teammates down, then that’s what he did.

                  1. Similar to Biles in that it is easy for an outsider to suggest the “I’m not playing/competing” decision could have been made well beforehand. But in each case, it was in the middle of it. Potentially with factors that just aren’t public knowledge. It is bad optics but the sun did come up the next day for all of us. And sports is entertainment.

              2. I do not think Rask has had any (and if so, very few) conclusion issues.

                IIRC… this particular issue had to do with worry about his family during Covid. Had he gone to the bubble he would be locked away from them for some time. He instead decided that being with them was better than worrying about them when he should be focusing on the game.

                I hate the Bruins… but Rask is a monster and I felt bad for him over this.

                1. I feel bad that he felt like he had to choose between his family or letting the team down, but regardless of how you feel about people in that situation and the explanation, he let his team down.

                  Ever had a conversation that went something like, “When I said I loved you, I didn’t realize you were the kind of person who get in the way of my career just to make yourself feel important”?

                  There were lots of guys on that team who didn’t want to be in the bubble–and didn’t let the team down.

      2. Maybe there was no way to avoid it. We don’t know. Are you holding BIles to too high a standard? You offer great insights on many issues, but it may be that the best take here is not to have one.

        1. See my response to the idea that there was no way way to avoid it here:

          https://reason.com/2021/07/28/simone-biles-doesnt-exist-to-make-america-proud/#comment-9017840

  9. If Biles wasn’t mentally ready to compete, she made the right call. Too many athletes with physical injuries try to tough it out for the team, when a healthier backup might have helped the team more.

    But Aaron Rodgers better play, he’s on my fantasy team.

    1. Pageing Brett farve

    2. These Olympics were/are Biles’ swan song from the sport. She left her teammates down by dropping out of the team competition, but she likely left herself down by dropping out of the all around competition.

      I think she can still compete in the individual competitions for some or all four events, and winning one or more golds would resolve her ongoing dilemma.

  10. So if I’m paid millions of dollars to play baseball, I should just quit after the first inning citing “mental health issues”? Maybe medical researchers and volunteers in disaster areas should just all quit at the first sign of anxiety?

    This is silly. No one forced Biles to become an Olympic athlete. Once she chose that path and the national program spent resources to train her, she was under (at minimum) a moral obligation to compete on the highest level and stage. Biles didn’t enter as some free agent, she’s part of a national team. A world series title won by the Angels belongs to the Angels, not just Mike Trout.

    Collectivism mandated by the state is bad thing. But if a sports team or society exists only as a collection of self interested individuals and not as a cohesive, collaborative unit, they won’t last. If Binion’s mom decided to be a half assed parent because good parenting is too hard, he might be writing for a magazine even less relevant than Reason.

    I get it, Olympics is just a pageantry. But we’re allowed to criticize athletes in the in the context of the competition and individuals in social obligation. Binion would get pissed if people regularly failed to appear in casual meeting citing random personal reasons. They would have no credibility in his eyes. That’s true for society at large.

    What Biles did was unprecedented. We cannot just wave off individuals of her caliber walking away from her duties at a whim. If her mental condition was THAT compromised, she said have withdrawn from the competition entirely for her own safety. How are we supposed to have any innovation if people don’t have any sense of sacrifice and commitment that overrides their own well being even in the slightest?

    1. “What Biles did was unprecedented.”

      Nope. Bode Miller (downhill skier) missed olympic events because he was too busy partying.

    2. Didn’t Biles completely bow out? Or is she staying in certain events still?

      Fundamentally, while I agree (see below) that there is SOME obligation between Biles and the Country, I will not second guess a person who says that they are unfit to perform a dangerous routine. I know many athletes who tried performing, hoping they could make it, only to realize at game time that they weren’t healthy. That is not ideal, especially if they were not being honest with their coaching staff, but it happens all the time without the public outrage.

      If this were a hamstring injury that Biles had been nursing for a week, hoping to get better, and finally leading to her pulling out, no one would have given a shit. It is only that her disability is “mental” that she is getting all this flack. But some times, even mental problems are not under our control. I do not trust that we have been given the full context of what is going on to make a judgement one way or another.

    3. Professional athlets generally don’t get paid if they don’t play. Most contracts would state that they get paid the perdiem of what they would normally play. There are also clauses that they are completely out of money if the medical issue doesn’t happen during team events. So in your analogy the million dollar athlete would get nothing.
      Also do Olympic athlets get paid outside of endorsements?

  11. She might want to remove that goat pin from her team jacket.

    1. LOL…that was funny.

      She had the presence of mind (at age 24, mind you) to pull the plug when she knew she could not perform. Team USA walked away with only a silver medal.

      I have a feeling we have not seen the last of Simone Biles. The next summer games are only three years away. Biles might decide to go for it. I hope she thinks about it.

      1. I was under the impression that even 24 is pretty old for a gynast

        1. Or a gymnast

          1. It is. And if she comes back at the next international competition (the Olympics aren’t the only game in town) and cleans house…

            Lots of people should, but won’t, eat crow.

            1. I said elsewhere here that part of being the goat is defending the title. I guess reclaiming the title can count. I’d be happy to see her come back and clean house in 3 years and I’ll reconsider whether she deserves the title at that time. 26 is pushing it though and I’m still ragging on her a bit now. I’m prepared to eat a bit of crow.

      2. They were chasing gold, and Biles was expected to repeat as Olympic champion. They settled for silver because the ace of the team suddenly lost all nerve and ability to compete. At best, she made the right decision for a situation that she created. That’s not really heroism.

        People questioned her mettle as a competitor because she initially walked away saying “I need to focus on mental health”. That blindsided them. Later she suggested that she was dealing with trauma from the Nassar incidents. Now the prevailing narrative is that she had the “twisties”, which apparently means she lost all sense of orientation.

        This has all the makings of another Jessie Smollett saga. I’m not saying she made things up. But what’s being offered as explanation is so out of left field that it begs further inquiries. The US gymnastics program did nothing as Nassar abused literally dozens of young girls. They know something and or contributed to this problem. Something tells me Biles felt forced to protect her image and what’s left of her career outside of the Olympics.

  12. “No one is entitled to her performance simply because she is the best in the U.S.—and the world—at a sport. It isn’t an embarrassment. It isn’t heroism. It just is.”

    I don’t know about this.

    First, let me say that Kirk and other cons that insulted her for flaming out are dicks and should STFU. They are just as bad as the assholes at ESPN and NBC who want to inject politics into every sports moment.

    That said, Biles is famous, has endorsement deals, meteoric fame and other perks because she sold her services to the United States Gymnastics Team. The US Olympics program is SOLD on patriotic duty. We fund it because we are Americans and we are expected to support OUR athletes. The whole reason we have a Team USA is that the Nationalist Pride is a two way street- they perform for our country and we support them for it.

    When Biles (and the rest of Team USA) had their all expense trip paid by Team USA, they didn’t say “Oh, no, USA, you don’t owe me anything. I am doing this for myself.” No, they mouthed the same platitudes that every Hockey, NFL, etc etc athlete always mouths- about how important their fans (and their money) are.

    So contrary to what Binion says, there was a transaction here. Biles *has* been trading on the goodwill of her fans and the country that supported her trip to Tokyo. Unfortunately, that transaction wasn’t so much a contract as a social contract- and so reasonable people will disagree on what Biles owed herself, her team, and her country versus what we and her team owe her.

    (That doesn’t change the fact that a lot of the criticism is beyond the pale.)

    1. “First, let me say that Kirk and other cons that insulted her for flaming out are dicks and should STFU. They are just as bad as the assholes at ESPN and NBC who want to inject politics into every sports moment.

      That said, {…}”

      So the people who criticized her were terrible, awful, and … right?

  13. When someone on my son’s basketball team is having an “off” game, they bench him for another player who is performing better.

    In gymnastics, there’s no mechanism for this. The only way one can be removed is by injury or self-removal, and I credit Ms. Biles for having the self awareness and courage to step out of the way for the good of her team’s score. I would like to think that my son would do the same in that situation.

    I agree that it’s not heroic, but it certainly isn’t shameful. What is shameful is the seemingly sole focus of the entire media coverage on this one young athlete (can anyone name any other athlete on the US team, other than the pro NBA players?), and the typical twitter takedowns.

    She is a team player.

    1. Bingo. She didn’t quit. She benched herself when no one else could.

      1. That would be the very definition of quitting.

        1. It’s true

        2. If no one ever quit anything, we’d all still be playing tee ball.

          1. For participation trophies, not gold medals.

          2. A few months ago, I finally stopped smoking. But then I remembered back to when my parents taught me to never be a quitter. So I’m back up to 2 packs a day.

  14. It was a good strategic move when she saw the results of the qualifying. Better to quit undefeated than to lose in competition.

  15. Turns out it’s possible to criticize someone without believing that they owe you anything.

  16. By the description, she had the gymnast version of the “yips” (golfers being unable to make relatively easy putts). If that is the case, then maybe she did her team a favor. However, she does owe at least her teammates something and if she was feeling this way before arriving in Japan, then she should have bowed out before getting on the plane, when could have put in an alternate.

    1. Maybe. But the other POV is that there was a lot of pressure there. She’s been hailed as the best in the world for years, and everyone was counting on her to bring home the gold. She’s been in the Olympic training meat grinder since she was a child. Maybe she felt she had to show, got there, and realized she fucked up and was going to ruin her team’s chances.

      Either way, I’m hard pressed to judge some of these Olympic athletes- especially gymnasts- who have been training since they were young kids. Look at their weird bodies. It’s hard to believe that a training regimen that results in that kind of physique on a young woman, and in some cases causes them to have delayed puberty or lose their menses, doesn’t have some really significant mental tolls as well, especially on young kids. Some of those competitors are only 15 or 16.

    2. By the description, she had the gymnast version of the “yips” (golfers being unable to make relatively easy putts).

      That’s how I saw it described in a different article earlier. I’ve had the yips before in golf, and I’ve also something similar happen while practicing taekwon-do (see comment below). It happens sometimes, and the worst part is it usually comes out of nowhere. Something you’ve done a thousand times but you just brain fart for no good reason, then it gets in your head and you lose all confidence. In golf (and even TKD) the worst case scenario is usually just a bruised ego, not a potentially serious injury.

      if she was feeling this way before arriving in Japan, then she should have bowed out before getting on the plane

      Agreed, but I haven’t seen or heard of anything to suggest this was a problem before, and in my experience with the yips and whatever the TKD equivalent is (I just call it brain farting) it often comes up out of nowhere. I’ll withhold judgement, it is what it is.

      1. I have a friend who started playing men’s league baseball a couple years ago. They put him at catcher, and he did ok at first.
        All of a sudden, he couldn’t get it back to the pitcher. I’d go to piedmont Park with him to work on it, and he’d sail the ball 10 feet over my head. It was the weirdest thing. Then eventually it just went away.
        I believe this was part of the storyline in Major League 2 and the catcher solved it by memorizing playboy bios

        1. Steve Sax, Chuck Knoblauch…and then there are all of the golfers who “the yips” were originally named for.

          Turns out our brains do a whole lot unconsciously, until they don’t. Do the math on repeatability and precision for golf swing clubhead angles and low points. It might surprise you. At least, it did me. And yet our bodies can sometimes do that automatically and repeatedly.

          1. Athletes are at they’re best when they’re “in the zone”.
            In my experience, being in the zone is when your conscious mind becomes subservient to your instinct/subconscious. You’re not thinking about how you’re doing something, you’re processing everything around you, all the factors at play, and thinking about what’s going to happen the moment before it does.
            I used to be a really good three point shooter. There were times I’d take the ball upcourt and pull it from 25-30 feet without any preconceived plan to do so. It was just instinct. Other times, I’d have someone jump out to contest the shot, so I change it to a crazy high arc mid jumper.
            You don’t really want to be thinking about what you’re doing as you’re doing it, you want to be thinking about what you’re going to be doing while being automatic in the moment.
            Humans are at our best when instinct and consciousness are harmonious, and in sports that means instinct leading the way.
            It’s amazing what we’re capable of.

  17. What would Brian Boitano do?

    1. He’d skate for the gold.

    2. Would he make a plan and follow through?

      1. That’s what Brian Boitano’d do

    3. Probably Greg LubeAnus

    4. two Salchows and a triple Lutz

  18. Though Biles simplified it as a mental health issue, the way that manifested, she said, was with the “twisties,” a little-known disconnect experienced by some gymnasts where you lose control of your body mid-stunt, unable to tell your limbs to twist in the way they usually do.

    … Her signature move—the “Biles”—is a triple-twisting double tuck that sees her careen through the air with more contortions than any other human has ever performed.

    I’m not a gymnast, but I do practice martial arts and have experienced something similar, just recently actually, while attempting a technique called a “flying 360 back kick.” A kick I’ve done probably 1,000 times yet in mid jump it was like the connection between my brain and legs just went dead. Luckily for me it’s nothing like the move described here so I was able to just bail out of it and land back on my feet with nothing hurt but my ego. I can’t imaging something like happening while doing a “triple-twisting double tuck” – whatever that even means – while flying through the air several feet off the ground.

    1. But Ken assures us that Biles knew she had these issues well before the games and should have quit then. You know, because Ken is a good friend of hers.

  19. How about “Billy Binion does not exist to make Reason proud”?

    1. I would think that’s fairly obvious.

  20. Biles didn’t build that (Olympic team).

  21. Eh, cancel the Olympics. Simone Biles doesn’t exist to make America proud, but she was sent to the Olympics to do so. And that’s all the Olympics are, countries sending proxies to compete for glory. It’s an outdated concept, kill it off.

  22. Too much amphetamines or too little amphetamines?

    (Simone Biles has a Therapeutic Use Exemption to take psychostimulants for ADHD. Someone with ADHD has understimulated executive organization, it’s not that amphetamines don’t still have all the same effects as people without ADHD.)

    1. Oops my bad, methylphenidate works like cocaine, not amphetamines. Dopamine reuptake inhibitor, instead of presynaptic release stimulator. That’s what the TUE is for. Or was for in 2016; usually you start there and eventually step up to amphetamines (and ultimately to methamphetamine (Desoxyn) if those don’t work).

      I also have ADHD and have taken both. You don’t lose your appetite and spend months adjusting to be able to sleep after dosage changes, or have to be screened for heart issues, because it’s not acting as a stimulant everywhere except the small part of your brain it makes normal.

      Also if you inject methylphenidate it’s much better than injecting amphetamine… smoother and more euphoric high, like cocaine.

  23. The vitriol she has received proves her point.

    1. That’s nothing compared to the abuse you get here, and you’re still around pissing and moaning.

    2. “vitriol”?

      Are athletes are singularly incapable of handling ANY criticism without falling to pieces. A “sports media” that will not ever ask a serious question does them no favors.

  24. I don’t know if you agree to represent your country in an international athletic event partially funded by tax money maybe you do owe us a little bit.

  25. Why am I not surprised that the right wing Twitter assholes completely ignore and disregard her claims of mental distress. They are probably the first ones to declare authoritatively that all Trans people are mentally ill.

    1. Or that basement nerds like jeff are recovering Twinkie addicts.

    2. Too many people don’t take mental illness or mental health seriously enough. It is too bad.

    3. Trans people are by definition mentally ill.
      If believing you were born in the wrong body isn’t disorder, nothing is.

      1. Some people believe they were born on the wrong planet.

    4. Whether you classify it as a mental disorder (which there is certainly some argument for) or just add in the fact that the majority of trans people have significant co-existing depression, anxiety, or both, you could make the claim that is goes along with mental illness.

      Dont know if you personally know many trans people, but its a rough road. They have very high amounts of mental anguish (as one could imagine if they felt they were in the wrong body). It is more the rare exception than the rule that a trans person is very happy and well adjusted in society. I still havent met one that doesnt have significant psych issues yet, but have heard rumors of the magical creatures.

      1. Don’t forget that an early term for psychologist was alienist, and it is still used as a term that refers to psychiatrists who assess legal competency.

        At it’s most broad meaning the term metal illness refers to any sort of mental state that creates lasting problems for the individual.

        As an example consider the person with a tremendous degree of confidence and self regard. Essential characteristics if you wish to become a neurosurgeon or a fighter pilot. Because the people who will train you expect you to display such traits, and will tend to decline anyone who does not display above average (but less than extreme) levels of hubris.

        Conversely, if/when your success level does not match your apparent self regard then your personality trait can become narcissism. Whereby internal (disappointment) or external (disapproval) forces begin to adversely affect your life.

        The biggest problem for the trans patient AND for the people advocating current treatment modalities is that they are highly dependent upon the cooperation of other people. Which is why there is such a focused push into very specific sectors of our society such as the military or the prison system. It being much easier to enforce compliance with the members/employees of those organizations as compared to the society at large.

    5. I don’t think anyone is disregarding her claims of mental distress. More just critiquing how she handled the mental distress and scoffing at the media calling her the GOAT when they’ve seen plenty of high performing male athletes choke for whatever reason (mental or physical), without such efforts by the media to run cover for them.

  26. BILLY BINION: FUCK YOU you damn PUSSY!!!!!!

  27. This article sums up the problem with many libertarians; they confuse government coerced obligations with voluntarily assumed obligations. If this had been China and Biles were forced to go to the Olympics, no one could blame her for walking away. Being there at all wasn’t a choice she voluntarily made.

    That is not what happened here, however. No one made Biles agree to be on the team. Had she retired a week before the Olympics, no one could have held that against her. She doesn’t owe anyone competing. Once she agreed to compete and started to compete such that her spot on the team couldn’t be filled by someone else, she does owe both the team and the fans and the person whom she beat out to be on that team competing in the competition as long as she is physically able to do so. She agreed to compete and took a spot from someone whose life dream was no doubt to compete in the Olympics and has an obligation to meet that agreement. And it doesn’t matter that she isn’t being paid. A promise doesn’t have to involve money for it to create an obligation.

    Dumb Libertarians, and I don’t say all Libertarians because I think the smart ones understand this, seem to think that because the government shouldn’t impose obligations on it’s citizens, that no obligation or responsibility is legitimate. That is not only false, it attacks the very basis upon which a free society is built. With freedom necessarily becomes responsibility. If you don’t accept the responsibility that comes with freedom and try to shirk it off on someone else you are not free. You are a child subject to the will of whomever you shirk off the responsibility on. And a society can’t really be “free” unless people trust each other and there are social mores that enforce voluntarily assumed obligations. In fact, the more people follow mores and voluntarily meet their obligations, the less need there is for government. People generally and should only run to court or call the cops or otherwise turn to government force when others fail to meet their obligations and responsibilities. If everyone paid their debts and didn’t victimize others, we wouldn’t need courts. So, the less people do that, the less demand and need there is for government.

    Reason’s defense of Biles here is a small thing. Whether Biles meets her obligation to the Olympic team is not a significant issue in the overall world. The principle that she should meet that obligation and shouldn’t be praised or excused for not doing so is, however a significant issue. And shame of reason for not understanding that

    1. Funny thing is, she is being paid via sponsorships. Interesting how her withdrawal was synchronized with her corporate partners and corporate media defending her.

      She may not have won any Olympic medals, but she won the gold in mental gymnastics and covering your ass by any means necessary.

      1. “Had she retired a week before the Olympics, no one could have held that against her. ”

        Are you for real? We’d be hearing similar complaints from most of the talking heads.

  28. “so much so that her judging potential, partially determined by difficulty level, was downgraded to disincentivize other gymnasts from even attempting the maneuvers she takes on. Her signature move—the “Biles”—is a triple-twisting double tuck that sees her careen through the air with more contortions than ever performed by any other human being.”

    So many of her defenders on social media complain about how unfair this is. My thought was simply: if the scoring system only rewards tricks just so far, then gymnasts should work within the scoring system and get perfect scores there rather than trying to do over-and-above with a higher degree of risk–of failure and injury.

    They don’t give 5 points for a half-court shot in basketball, so common sense says don’t shoot from there unless absolutely necessary, you’re probably not going to make it. It is certainly exciting when someone does it though. They don’t give more points for a 75-yard field goal, but if someone hit one it would be in the sporting news for weeks.

    Then, of course, all this is a function of racism:

    “Biles’ talent has also been criticized as somehow being unfair to other gymnasts, for her ability to do what others can’t — something that’s often celebrated and glorified for white or male athletes. For example, Michael Phelps, a swimmer who’s won more Olympic medals than anyone in history, is widely recognized and beloved as the greatest swimmer of our time, despite his immense, built-in advantages, including not just the size and proportions of his body, but how his body produces half the amount of lactic acid of the average person, which decreases his fatigue and sharply increases his recovery time.

    “In other words, on a technical and cultural level, Biles, a young Black woman, is being punished and subjected to undeniably racist and sexist double standards for her greatness. After all, we’ve seen some form of this before, for other Black women athletes — Caster Semenya, a South African two-time Olympic champion runner, was literally barred from competing in women’s sports last year unless she agreed to take medication to lower her naturally higher levels of testosterone. When Black women athletes work hard and go above and beyond, they’re treated with suspicion, as if they’re somehow being dishonest, or as if their success is a detriment to others that should be punished, restricted and prevented rather than encouraged. From Semenya to Biles, they and other Black women athletes face the same, intertwined racism and misogyny.

    [https://afromerica.com/afrone/simone-biles-should-be-praised-not-punished-for-achieving-a-feat-that-was-deemed-impossible]

    1. Americans have been getting screwed by judges in Olympic Sport for decades. She is not getting screwed, assuming she is, because she is black. Indeed, she wiped the floor at the last Olympics. I don’t think the judges suddenly became racist in the last four years.

      As far as the system goes, she knows the system and should adjust her routine accordingly. If they don’t give enough extra points for difficulty, then do a less difficult routine better than the other competitors. One way of scoring is not necessarily better than the other. As long as the rules are consistent and everyone knows what they are beforehand, then it is up to the competitors to compete and win by those rules.

      1. I should have said

        Then, of course, all this is a function of “racism”

        1. I got the sarcasm. I was just agreeing with you. It is a shame. I really liked her and thought she was probably the best woman’s gymnast of all time. I hate to see her career end this way. It is a really lousy move on her part.

      2. Good explanation. Degree of difficulty is agreed to prior to the event. There is no extra credit above that.

  29. I don’t have a problem with her pulling out of the competition. I have a problem with the timing. Its not like she suddenly had the mental problems that day; her problems were weeks/months/years building up. She should have withdrawn before the Olympics.

    1. Yes. She is taking a spot from someone who would have used it and achieved a lifetime dream by being there. If she wasn’t up to it, fine. But she owed giving up her spot to someone who was instead of taking it and then walking away half way through the competition.

  30. This non-issue is one of the dumbest events in recent history. There’s no way to get a good reason on her choice without knowing personal details that nobody should know except her. I’m glad she has chosen not to share those with the world.

    However, the optics here are horrible. If these issues are truly a culmination of different factors up to this point, then they were valid issues yesterday, a month ago, and a year ago. The truly selfless act would be not going to the Olympics at all. Performing would have hurt the team, but trying to perform when you knew this was coming hurt the team even more. That’s not empty rhetoric either. Biles’s withdrawal meant the team couldn’t use any substitutions, which put more pressure on everyone else. We could have sent someone else.

    I think the larger problem here is that we send kids to “represent” our country. Biles is just a kid and her teammates even moreso. Biles isn’t even aware of the power dynamics in her ask. She knows how talented and respected she is. Of course her teammates will support her, even if they really don’t. In that sense, I can see why Charlie Cuck called her a sociopath.

    Finally, the Olympics themselves are a bit of a joke. The games offered keep changing and the more meaningful sports are the smaller ones that don’t have the same level of competition in professional leagues. The idea that scummy people who play sports well “represent” the country is comical to begin with. They don’t represent shit and I think that’s the real reason people are overreacting to Biles. The facade has been destroyed.

    1. She’s 24.

      1. “Biles is just a kid “. She’s 24, but some people–usually of a progressive bent–seem to want to keep infantilizing young adults. They can’t be trusted to make good decisions, like drinking beer, buying smokes, using drugs, getting tattoos, buying firearms. They cannot even be expected to get their own health insurance until age 27. “Their brains aren’t fully formed until age 26” you’ll hear them cry.

        But yeah, we need to lower the voting age to 16 they say. Because all that other stuff doesn’t affect their ability to make sound voting decisions! My ass.

        A 24-year-old is an adult, and should be expected to make adult decisions and accept adult consequences.

      2. She’s immature for her age. That’s all I was pointing out is that she acts like a kid.

        Regardless of your age, you get treated based on how you act. If she wants to be respected like an adult, she should start acting like one.

    2. She never represented “our country”. No athlete does. They are there to compete against others in the sport.

      They are not entertaining servants. This is not the hunger games.

      This young gifted hardworking woman has done feats in gymnastics which have never been matched. Enough said there.

      Anyone here gonna get on that floor and contest her? I don’t think so.

      Neither is it to anyone of us to judge her. She has courage beyond match.

      1. “She never represented “our country”.

        You are a bona fide expert at saying stupid shit.

        Every country that participates sends one team. Nobody who is not accepted to a national team gets to participate at the Olympics. And everyone who does participate does so as a member of a national team.

        She wears our team uniforms and wears our national flag. The idea that that somehow is not ‘representative’ defies not merely reason, it defies sentience.

  31. Who cares? Does anyone still watch the Olympics? I can understand some criticism as someone else could have gone to Tokyo if she was not up to snuff. Some of the commentary is laughable as no one actually cares aside from the slighted gymnast that could have had that spot.

  32. She should be free to walk away — but should be banned for life from the Olympics, and maybe should repay any expenses that others had to pay for.

  33. I am more interested in the Men’s water polo competition

  34. Around here we should be pushing to get statism out of sports, but the fact remains that Simone voluntarily signed up for Team USA and implicitly promised to make Americans proud. Just like if she signed up for team Rothbard, she would have promised to make Rothbardians proud. Most of us wouldn’t expect such commitments to be absolute, even at the expense of one’s life or permanent destruction of health. On the other hand, most of us don’t expect professional sports to be without risks and we should choose contenders who we think can take the heat.

  35. Yet another AmeriCan’t.

    Perhaps she should go join the women’s soccer team.

    1. The women’s soccer team could kick your ass in soccer.

      Go ahead.

      1. A team of 15 year old boys beat the US women’s team 5-2. I wouldn’t be so sure they could.
        https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.cbssports.com/soccer/news/a-dallas-fc-under-15-boys-squad-beat-the-u-s-womens-national-team-in-a-scrimmage/amp/
        Now, just me versus the entire USWNT, yeah they’d probably win cause it’s 11 against 1. But me and 10 clones of me, against them? I like my odds a lot, quite frankly.

        1. I dunno it was a friendly scrimmage. The girls were not playing to win. The five year old beats me in basketball. The eight year old beats me in chess. How does that happen? You know that grandpa wants you to win. Oh he wants you to work for it and learn.

          Never underestimate the pony tail.

          1. I’ll also add that I can play soccer better than I did when I was 14. I can run faster, jump higher, kick further, play with more endurance.

            Maybe it was a friendly scrimmage. Maybe the 14-year-olds were the ones going easy on the USWNT. The fact that they kept an official score suggests to me it was a bit more than just a pick up game. I can also say with certainty that professional men’s soccer players play at a higher level than their female counterparts team.

  36. The Olympics are not held in order to generate lack of attention either. But lectures from twits are apparently part of the deal.

    FTR: I do not know what was going on in her head. Everyone who competes goes in saying “I think I can, I think I can” but sometimes that changes. Maybe in her case it only changed once she had started and it became obvious to her that she really couldn’t. It’s disappointing, but one thing I know for sure is that it does not need further commentary from me.

  37. The greatest do not quit when the going gets tough.
    Willis Reed is a great example of this, his game 7 heroics in 1970, limping onto the court with a knee pumped full of steroids and literally carrying the Knicks to a NBA Championship.
    Curt Schilling is another great example of this in his 2004 post-season pitching with his recently stitched ankle bleeding through his sock to help the BoSox win a WS for the first time since 1918.
    Michael Jordan is an example of this when in 1997 he played with a severe case of flu to score 38 – THIRTY EIGHT – points in game 5, a pivotal one in that series.
    Champions don’t quit when the going gets tough or they are down, they get up and forge ahead, they lead their team and carry them if needed, even when they are less than 100%.
    Simon Biles should be ashamed of the example she presented to all those young girls who looked up to her.

  38. Naturally, people are entitled to express whatever opinion they so choose. Remember the old saying; “sometimes it is better to keep your mouth closed & have some people think you are an idiot rather than to open your mouth & prove them ccorrect”

    What I will add to the mix is that it is reprehensible to criticize her for dropping out because of her mental state. Not a single critic can come anywhere close to performing the kinds of routines that Ms. Biles performs as standard. She does routines where a mental slip-up could easily kill her or cripple her for life. This isn’t comparable to competing with a pulled muscle or even a broken bone. For an ordinary Olympian, the mental game is easily as important as the physical game. For what Ms. Biles does, continuing to compete without complete focus is life threatening & criticizing her for her decision just proves you to be an idiot.

  39. Unfortunately for Bile’s will anyone hire her to perform again after this. but I’m sure some sports maker will use her in adds maybe if enough idiots make a big enough deal about the poor black woman being treated meanly by some imaginary people

  40. She gave her word to compete. She quit. She has no honor and should be shunned by all respectable people. A person is only as good as their word. Biles word is worthless.

    1. Sue her. Remember, you are the victim here.

  41. In the past we’d have said she choked – something that we’ve seen from other star athletes before. It happens. It’s not heroism. However, there’s a limit to how much criticism she should get. I expect she’ll live this over and over in her mind for the rest of her life and wonder what she might have done differently.

    1. Now tell me about you.

      1. Oh, I sometimes think about things in my past I wish I’d done differently. Should I assume you don’t?

        1. Sure but no regrets.

  42. “Simone Biles Doesn’t Exist To Make America Proud”

    No, she doesn’t *exist* solely for that purpose, but she … *competes on America’s Olympic team* in order to do so.

    Doesn’t she?

    1. Jesse Owens, the winner of 4 gold medals in Berlin 1936, didn’t.

      “After the games had ended, the entire Olympic team was invited to compete in Sweden. Owens decided to capitalize on his success by returning to the United States to take up some of the more lucrative endorsement offers. United States athletic officials were furious and withdrew his amateur status, which immediately ended his career. ”

      He managed to find work as a janitor and gas station attendant.

    2. “Doesn’t she?”

      No.

      That is to see her as an object, not a human being competing. Already she is competing with herself having performed feats never before attempted or mastered.

      Now she makes decisions on her own. Good for her.

  43. For gymnasts, gamblers and other risk takers, knowing when to quit is what separates the winners from the losers. I can’t help thinking of ‘the Greatest’ Mohammad Ali who didn’t quit until after the pathetic spectacle with wrestler Inoki at the Budokan in Tokyo. Had he quit a year earlier after beating Foreman in the ‘rumble in the jungle,’ his reputation would have not suffered.

  44. “It isn’t an embarrassment. It isn’t heroism. It just is.”

    Best take from Reason in a minute. It’s also a better headline than the current one. Biles doesn’t exist to make America proud but she is at the Olympics to make America proud. She chose to go. She has the talent to win the gold, but she also was the one to know best what her mental state was going in. Maybe the nerves were sudden onset, but if you follow some of her family life/career semi-closely, you could kind of see the nerves building. It would have been a blow to the team to back out before the games started, but it might’ve done less damage to the team than backing out mid competition (in the former scenario, an alternate could have been picked to go into the team competition). She made an agreement to represent Team America and that agreement filled a limited slot that could have gone to someone who might have been slightly less physically up to the task of winning gold but still up to the mental task of it. At the same time, competing in her sport when you’re head isn’t in the game could be fatal. She made the best personal choice, but not necessarily the best team choice. That’s a harsh reality and I know that sounds very critical, but it’s the truth. The various media folks trying to sell it as a positive and describe her as the G.O.A.T. are just trying to sell her decision.

    Now here’s where I will make the various caveats:
    Is Biles one of, if not thee best, in her sport? yes

    Can I achieve an ounce of what she can in her sport? No, an ounce would be generous.

    Is her sport dangerous? Yes

    Is she required to take that-life threatening risk? Absolutely not

    Did her decision deprive the team of winning a gold? Probably

    Did her decision deprive someone else of the chance to compete in the team event? Definitely

    Does the fact the USA didn’t take gold in one event matter? Not terribly

    Did Bikes communicate her reason for withdrawing honestly? That was a little wishy washy. One moment we were hearing she just had nerves. Next we were hearing the team was saying she was injured. Now we know for sure it was nerves. A straight answer might’ve spared her a lot of the criticism.

    Is Biles the G.O.A.T.? The G.O.A.T. doesn’t break under pressure. She dominated at the 2016 Olympics, but part of goat status includes defending your record. Maybe she can earn that title in the future when she’s mentally prepared.

    What’s a bigger story than Biles withdrawing? The fact that the FBI failed to properly investigate the fact that this team was dealing with a sexually abusive cretin. Seriously that should be a way bigger story and maybe what can unite the country over Biles dropping out is blaming the FBI for failing to actually do the job the taxpayer pays for and protect the team. Hell, the FBI sucking at their jobs and being little more than self-involved NKVD rejects, probably cost the US some Olympic medals. Let’s blame them for it instead of Biles.

    1. Agree, GOAT’s never quit on their team. Sure she had reasons but for example, Michael Jordan, a GOAT played an NBA finals game with food poisoning and a raging fever. Scored 38 points and pulled his team to victory.

      That’s GOAT. This is not.

  45. This Biles drama is just a microcosm of why it’s no longer fun to watch professional or Olympic level sports. You can’t sell your audience that much unchecked hype and still call someone the GOAT after she does the exact opposite of live up to the hype. I feel bad for Biles because she gets to take all the crap for what was a massive misfire by sports media. One thing I hate about professional athletics is this hype game that gets played. The athletes have to talk big because that’s the only way they get any press. The humble ones never get any attention. No one is ever respected for being an amazing athlete who would deign to not act sociopathic about it. And the media adds to that crap tenfold. The end result is you’ve got guys like Connor McGregor who were fun to watch when they were on the up and now you’re just humiliated for buying pay-per-view to watch them crumble into an uninspiring mess. A more humble sports media could make the highs feel that much higher and the lows feel that much more bearable. But this overly prideful media just propagandizes you with hype and the celebration of narcissism and arrogance and then you end up red faced having to watch the “GOAT” walk away after the first minute over mental injury. Today’s professional sports media is just a special genre of humiliation porn.

  46. “……….a competition she was almost without question expected to win.”

    You know who else was almost without question expected to win?

  47. Oh stop please. I respect her decision to quit, it is her choice obviously, but let’s face it is not an act of heroism. It is just QUITTING!

    That is the hype that is unusual in this case. Trust me the word hero would not be in any vernacular at all if Tom Brady had walked out of the last Super Bowl at halftime.

    1. Let’s face it. Football is a team sport. Gymnastics isn’t.

  48. Ms. Biles may not have existed to make America proud, but Sunisa Lee certainly made Minnesota proud.

  49. Sure, she has the right to walk away, especially for a legitimate medical reason. But the problem is that she took away someone else’s right to participate in Olympic training, paid for by other people. So, it’s not so simple as the author presumes.

    1. Tax money should never go toOlympic training anyway. That’s theft.

  50. Obvious but necessary. Gymnastics, like everything else, should be voluntary.

  51. Sunisa Lee lost an aunt and an uncle to COVID; her Dad was in an accident that put him in a wheel chair. She hung in there and won the all around despite these things. I would not use the word heroic, but she demonstrated admirable grit and determination. But Biles is the media darling.

    If you are at the top of a sport for a long time; then on the world’s biggest stage, you see you are off and not going to win gold, there is a certain humilation in that. So, to avoid that humilation, you drop out

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