Simone Biles Betrayed Her Team…Stop Making Excuses For Her


Here is the jaw-dropping opening to the New York Times report updated a few minutes ago:

In the biggest upset for the United States at the Tokyo Games, Simone Biles withdrew from the gymnastics team competition after it had started on Tuesday, handing Russia’s squad a path to the gold medal and ending American domination of the event for more than a decade. Biles, Team U.S.A.’s star, said she pulled out of the event because she wasn’t in the right place mentally to perform the difficult and often dangerous skills she is known for, after feeling so much pressure to be successful. She had been struggling with the stress of being the greatest gymnast in history, she said, and outside expectations were just too hard to combat. It is not clear whether she will compete in her individual events.

I have been following sports, and especially team sports, since I was 12-years-old. I cannot imagine any male athlete withdrawing from his team during a crucial series or before a pivotal game because he “wasn’t in the right place” mentally, or because he was feeling “pressure to be successful.” Any male athlete behaving like this would be universally condemned by the sportswriting establishment, team members and fans, and rightfully so. But The Boston Glob’s Tara Sullivan this morning provided another jaw-dropping article headlined, “Bravo to Simone Biles for taking care of herself when she needs it most.”

When she needed it most? The entire concept of a team, be it in sports or in any other pursuit, is to sacrifice one’s own desires and comfort when the team needs it most. In the 1996 Summer Olympics, female gymnast Kerri Strug sucked it up and preserved her team’s medal by performing a vault despite a seriously injured ankle. This was hailed as the epitome of sportsmanship and athletic courage. Now Biles quits her team because, as she wrote on Instagram before her decision, “I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times.” Indeed, every star and superstar on any team seeking the distinction of a championship facing top competition feels the weight on his or her shoulders. Only Biles not only decided that this was ample justification to abandon her team mates, but is being praised for it. Astounding. Astounding. I keep thinking about how I would react as stage director to the leading actor in a stage production who came to me on opening night and said, “I just can’t go on. The pressure is too much!”

Biles choked, that’s all. It happens to lots of elite athletes when the spotlight gets too hot, and that’s one way we distinguish the truly great from the pretenders. Sometimes it’s unfair: Ted Williams only played in one World Series, and stunk. He was injured but never complained or used his injury as an excuse; still the Boston sportswriters heaped abuse on him, writing for decades that when the Red Sox needed him most, he couldn’t come through. But Williams, who was a war hero and fighter pilot that even his worst enemies never accused of not having guts, didn’t quit his team during the 1946 World Series because he was afraid of hurting himself worse or because he felt the “weight of the world’ on his shoulders. If he had, he would have been run out of town.

Williams is just the first example that came to mind; there are too many others to count. Biles isn’t a child; she’s 24. In women’s gymnastics, that’s a crusty veteran, and someone who should be counted upon to be a role model. If female athletes are going to insist on equal respect and equal compensation in comparison to male athletes, they can’t simultaneously be held to different, lesser, “kinder” standards. Unless Biles is suffering from something a lot more serious than a crisis of confidence and the bruised ego of a superstar for whom winning has been all too easy in the past, her withdrawal is a betrayal of her team and her sport, and she should now have to shoulder exactly the kind of criticism any male athlete would who behaved similarly.

76 thoughts on “Simone Biles Betrayed Her Team…Stop Making Excuses For Her

    • Her race should be a non-issue here. Are black athletes subjected to more pressure than white athletes? I expect to read someone making that claim, but she’s not Jackie Robinson. Just another superstar who couldn’t handle losing, which is one test of greatness.

      • If I gave the impression that *I* care about her race, I apologize, because I don’t.

        But she was one of the people that the article you linked in the warm up from July 25th referenced. Biles was absolutely under pressure to perform based on her race, but that pressure wasn’t coming from conservatives. And while it might not be fair to Biles that she was made a public face of a racist point of view… The fact remains that she was, and the people that did it are just as stupid now that it hasn’t panned out as they were when they originally floated the idea.

        • NO, I don’t think that, and I had to fight not to raise the racial issue in the original post.It’s just that her conduct would be equally indefensible under any set of group categories. The main reason she is getting this pass is that she’s a “girl.”

      • Thank you for having the courage to state the simple truth, but as a female athlete, I do not appreciate your accusation that the excuses are because she is a female.
        This is not about her race, color, nor gender; she bailed out on her team during a crucial time, creating further drama and attention to herself instead of focusing on what she could to do help the team. Then adding salt to the wound, even afterward, she doesn’t take any ownership nor accountability of bailing out on her team but is now capitalizing on the “mental Health awareness” trend. She certainly doesn’t mind the $millions due to the “weight of the world” and sponsorships.

        • No male athlete in her position has ever behaved this way, and one who did would never be excused. She did it, she’s a female athlete, and she is being excused because being a star and the team leader is just so, so hard! This, coming after all the excuses made for Osaka refusing to answer all those mean reporter questions. That’s two female superstars in a row getting passes no male would get or has received.

          If it’s not gender, what is it? You owe me a theory.

        • I really agree about how you point out Biles made this stop in competing, mid-competition, ALLLL about her. I heard her answer questions tonight, about how maybe her choice to withdraw had inspired others, only name-dropping famous people who reached out–she mentioned Oprah and the spoiled tennis player as the only 2. No mention of it being “regular people” who were inspired, no way, and the question was posed to her that way. She also keeps saying, “I did this for me”, as well as her reason for coming back to do the balance beam in individuals, “this was for me” over and over in interviews. What about for YOUR COUNTRY? Or at least… For your teammates?, as this is the one huge honor of competing in the Olympics, as it is not just all about me, me, me. What I find most intriguing is how this embroidered goat on her leotards was a few days and meets too early. No way you can be the greatest of all time (G.O.A.T…I point it out because it took me a hot minute to connect the dots..and the narcissism)… if you quit and make it all about you when you do. I did note the ads featuring her have all been taken down…Subway, Comcast, Disney, etc…gone for now. But all these pompous athletes who let fame and hype get in their heads, in their way, are all falling by the wayside during the Olympics…the US womens soccer and their kneeling for justice, the hammer thrower who wanted to demonstrate on the podium, etc…perhaps instead of virtue signaling and therapy coaches, US Gymnastics needs an Ego Coach on hand, too.

          • Thank you for making me Google GOAT…while they have called Tom Brady that for years I never once looked it up and I pondered her reason for that. I remember her asking people not to call her that some years back and then in fact she has it on her line of leotards… I agree with these comments about her letting down her team and this being about her ego, and the fact that she could not take her normally prescribed Ritalin for ADHD which she was not allowed to take in Japan. It could certainly have had an impact on performance but why sugar coat this, as Mental Health blanket phrase.

  1. What is particularly falling about Biles is that this comes after all the criticism that the judges are sexist for denying her high points for complex acts that would be dangerous for a lesser gymnast. This stinks of that tennis player who quit because she didn’t get her way. (Incidentally, I heard this news second hand this morning that she was injured, potentially proving the judges right – albeit only in hindsight. That she just quit is appalling).

      • I caught the tape delayed coverage. I think there was enough genuine confusion about what the heck happened to justify initial uncertain headlines. Biles walked away from the competition with medical staff. Announcers were unsure why. Judges said she wasn’t competing; didn’t say why. A possible injury or disqualification were responsible guesses. Because it was a tape delay, it’s impossible to know the original timeline, but there were several minutes of uncertainty. The excuses only started after it was revealed why she was out of the competition.

  2. Jack, Jack, Jack. You ignorant, white supremacist yokel. Simone Biles is a Black Girl Magician! Don’t you remember your post from a few days ago? The only reason she’s having a problem is because of white expectations. And why am I even using “white” to modify “expectations?” Expectations are a white supremacist construct! Who are you to question her lived experience? Check your privilege! She’s above criticism. To criticize her is racist. Sports are white supremacist. They are not equitable. We need to defund sports and the Olympics.*

    *Which would be fine by me, by the way.

    • Bill, I decided that the race issue is just a distraction here. Does Biles’ being black increase the tendency of critics and reporters to give her a pass on conduct that would be universally condemned in a male athlete? Maybe, but there’s no need to go there, and I’d rather not. This is infantilizing women exactly when they are demanding to be treated as equal to men. It’s disgusting, frankly. If a woman with great responsibility can’t take the pressure in any field, that is as great a failing of character as it would be for any male in the same position. Feminists should be all over Biles. Maybe the fact that she’s black protect her, but it has nothing to do with what’s wrong with her conduct.

      • It doesn’t as much as it would. Gabby Douglas was already the original “black magic girl” gymnast, so Biles does not have the same uniqueness as she would if she were the first. That said, she folded, just like “Cougar” at the beginning of “Top Gun” who lost it after a harrowing encounter with enemy planes (actually US F-5s painted with red stars) and turned in his wings. I’ve seen athletes choke on the field, like Bill Buckner, but I’ve never seen any of them pull out unless injury forced it. As Jack pointed out, Kerri Strug vaulted to win it for the team in 1996, despite a bad ankle injury. In that same Olympics Shannon Miller and Dominique Dawes both slipped on the floor exercise, which knocked them out of winning the all-around, but, despite both sobbing their hearts out at the failure, they soldiered on, and Shannon did win one more gold medal. This is diva behavior. I’ve seen it in music too, when former crossover child star Charlotte Church suddenly up and decided she wanted to go pop, and failed miserably. She said she was tired of doing what others wanted and was going to do what made HER happy. Unfortunately, she wasn’t very good at pop music, or acting, or any of the other angles she tried to pursue, and everyone who previously was making money off her wobbly warbling dropped her.

      • The contrast is stark: Same age, different disciplines, similar pressures. Katie Ledecky is the dominant force in women’s swimming – she is the standard bearer for medals, records, and overall awesomeness. She lost to Aussie Australia’s Ariarne Titmus in the 400 Meter Fee. By tenths of a second. Ledecky demonstrated grace, poise, and maturity, congratulating her rival. She didn’t whinge about the pressures of having a huge (“UGE”?) target on her back.

        I am surprised the Biles withdrew. She seemed off the other day, making concentration mistakes. Even with those mistakes, she was the best performer in the sport, overall.


        • Good, experienced, mature athletes know some days you win and some days you lose. The Olympics are just one competition these athletes wend their way through every single year, not that NBC wants anyone to realize that. For most of these athletes, the world championships in their sports are a bigger deal.

          And … how ’bout them Ruskies? (It’s Trump’s fault!)

      • I think the racial component has everything to do with this story, and the Osaka story. These women’s race trumps their being women. Feminists will stand down. You really expect Meghan Rapinoe to dress down Simone Biles for anything? No. Race trumps feminism. Aggrieved groups have a definite (but fluid when necessary) hierarchy. Biles is a black athlete first, a woman athlete second. It’s much more fertile ground to till. I fully anticipate seeing race hucksters come to Biles’ and Osaka’s defense.

        • And speaking of infantilization, this is a standard trope in race huckstering. Michael Brown was just a child, as was Trayvon Martin. Roll the tape of the mother wailing, “They killed my BABY!” even though her baby was twenty or thirty or forty. “He was just a child!” It’s standard operating procedure in the the race huckster industry. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Ben Crump suddenly appearing as Biles’ spokesman.

    • Oh, but all you people that are defending that epic loser, Simone Biles. All you people defending her over look the fact she did not quit until she started her performance and could not stick the landings at all. Then and only then she decided to quit!!! And how about her sponsors??? It would be like you paying me to build you this big ass house, andd when you come out to look at your house I just built you see a dog house.

      She should be forced to give all sponsor money back. The sponsors did not pay her to quit. Simone Biles should have a lifetime ban from joining the Olympics.

  3. I propose that the OOC create a new award in Bile’s behalf: That would be the Precious Snowflake award which she richly deserves.

  4. After I read the story, I knew you were going to write about this, and I share your opinion on this story.

    This is the Olympics! This isn’t just a practice session. She is representing her country at the highest possible level of gymnastics. One person I read said that the decision on whether the stress would be too much should’ve been made before she decided to compete. You can’t just quit in the middle of a competition because of “mental health” unless you are solely in it for yourself. Are you having a literal nervous breakdown? Do you have a mental disorder and your meds have somehow screwed you up? Do you have a physical injury that risks hobbling you for the rest of your life? Otherwise, compete. You can break down after it’s over if need be, but for now, you’ve gotta be strong.

    Get therapy during/after if you need to be, but don’t quit! People are so obsessed with “mental health” now. I have struggled with depression since my early 20’s, but I would never dream of qualifying for the Olympics, representing my country, and then quitting because I felt too much stress. Every single Olympic athlete is under tremendous stress. I feel for them, but they also know what they are getting into. The same goes for professional athletes. Part of the sport is tremendous pressure and sacrifice, which is why people who succeed are commendable.

    I suspect you may be right about the bruised ego. It’s hard to say, but the fact people are defending her decision is really a sign of the times.

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    • Number #1. What does this have to do with Simone Biles???? Number #2 if that article had any truth to it. Then can you please explain why the Democrats, FBI & DOJ will not release any of the video they took from thousands of people that day? Tell me why when blm & Antifa burned buildings in DC during Trumps inauguration was not charged with insurrection and held with no bail??? Nope instead the democrats bailed them all out. To this day. There is not one person charged for an insurrection from January 6th??? There was Dirty Harry that day. He goes by the name of Michael Leroy Byrd. The Identity of the cop that murdered a 90 pound unarmed woman surrounded by capital police. Yet the Democrats would not release his name. Why? Because he killed an innocent woman with no warning at all. Watch the video. you will see there was capital police direct behind Ashli Babbitt.

  5. Well, I guess if a person never quit when the going got tough, they wouldn’t have anything to regret for the rest of their life.

    -Lance Armstrong (Dodgeball)

    As a side note to this quote, if she had competed and failed (silver, bronze, nothing), she would likely still have the sympathy and support of people who now freely criticize her. Of course there is pressure to perform, she is still better off if she tries and fails.

    And, yes, losing at the Olympics is better than not competing at all.

    It makes no sense.


  6. As you might imagine, the NYT (and its endless supply of ‘woke ‘n progressive’ commenters) is providing the (politically) correct exegeses for both the Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka stories. BTW, according to one of the commenters, Biles had every right to pull out of the event because (as everybody knows):

    … just remember that one small error in gymnastics can lead to paralysis or death. Being in the right mental state is crucial for Biles’ very survival.


    Two observations:
    1) Osaka is slated to participate in the US Open from30 August to 12 September.It’ll be interesting (and telling) to see how that plays out.
    2) Biles pulled out of the team event. However:

    Biles is scheduled to compete in the individual all-around on Thursday. She said of that decision: “We’re going to take it a day at a time.” (WSJ)

    Again, it’ll be interesting (and telling) to see how that plays out. And it also begs the question, “Would it be ethical for Biles to compete individually if she withdrew from the team competition earlier in the week?”

    • I think she can complete in the induvial. The team event ALL three scores count (they used to have four compete and one score could be dropped). If she falls on her own it is just her metal is effected not that of three other girls as well. I see her maybe pulling out of some of the apparatus events and competing in the all around or pull from all around and try on an apparatus or two. She qualified on all four apparatus and the induvial all around.

        • Well, Jack, your not fixing typos as punishment is kind of like the pot calling the kettle the N-Word. Ironically, I correct your typos as a secret form of punishment.

          I can kind of rationalize not competing (see above) for legitimate reasons.

          However, if you forsake the team, but still want to compete in individuals, that is kind of the worst of all possible worlds. You refuse to be a team player, but still want individual achievement (reminds me, again of Al Capone’s baseball speech in The Untouchables).

          If you are afraid of failing, the team competition is where you have the leeway to screw up. You screw up on individuals, you are on your own.

          This makes no sense.


          • “Well, Jack, your not fixing typos as punishment is kind of like the pot calling the kettle the N-Word. Ironically, I correct your typos as a secret form of punishment.”

            Valid point. But I correct dozens of typos in comments every day, both to make up for WordPress’s refusal to allow commenters edits, but also because I don’t like to see intelligent commentary undermined by slips of the fingers. However, really, really stupid comments like that one, which also appears to have either been typed with feet or by someone unfamiliar with English, don’t deserve that boost, certainly not when I could be catching my own typos.

            • I thought you would think that, but I predicted you would not respond to that, but then….

              Where was I?

              Anyway, I understand your perfectionist attitude of spelling things right. You always want to do that.

              At the same time, I no longer think typos show someone who can’t spell. Typing adds a mechanical aspect to the problem. I can spell, but I can’t type for crap. Throw in auto-correct and I am a ducking mess. And, online, conscientious proof-reading is not standard.

              So, I correct you only partly to annoy you, but primarily when the typo confuses the meaning of what you are trying to communicate.


              • Agreed. That commenter’s post, however, could have easily triggered the EA “Stupidity Rule,” which holds that I reserve the right to decide that someone is just too dim to contribute here.

        • Sounds just a bit rude to me, especially the bold type, and I could not find the previous comment which apparently warranted this, ah, treatment.
          Nevertheless, those who post are, as I see it, responsible for their spelling, punctuation, and, egads, even content.

        • I can appreciate her typos as they opened up an opportunity for wordplay. Not only did Biles affect her own mettle, she affected the mettle of the entire team.

          Initially I was going to comment how off your take was and was going to cite Lebron James exiting early. Then I realized it’s past my bedtime. Then I realized the Lebron comparison actually reinforces your point. Lebron rightfully got crushed for heading to the locker room early in an already lost game. Biles should have shown her “mettle” and powered through, potential metal rod due to injury, or potential loss of medal due to failure.

          I would be interested in seeing if all those supporting Biles in their tweets were as supportive towards Lebron. On one hand, I hope not because it would show hypocrisy. On the other hand, I hope they were so they can display consistency in their embrace of weakness.

          *Sorry for any typos.

    • Absolutely NOT ethical. Whomever the alternate the USA has sitting on the bench should be the one competing in every event she can, instead of letting the whims of a snowflake like Biles compete at all. She had her shot, and she blew it. If her team subscribed to Amish philosophy, she’d be completely shunned by now.

  7. I hate to say it, but this is the first Olympics where I can honestly say I don’t give a damn how the US team does. This exchange shows why – it’s become all about race and woke-ism. The US can’t even unite behind our Olympic team, and our team can’t even represent us without woke grandstanding, although this is far from the first example of that. This nation is so fractured along every possible line (now we have competing holidays and anthems) that I wonder if we COULD unite if another 9/11 or Katrina happened tomorrow. I’m inclined to think we couldn’t. I wouldn’t be inclined to go fight and die for Biden or Harris. I’m definitely not fighting for BLM. I’m not inclined to help a majority black city that runs into problems. Let the snowflakes defend the puppet and the cackling incompetent, and let BLM go into a drowned city with trucks and clipboards. I wash my hands of the whole thing.

  8. I don’t think she betrayed the team. If her head wasn’t in in should could have gone out and bombed EVERYTHING and no medal would have been won, by the team. What would that headline look like? “Biles falls on everything USA gets no metal’ She is the tail end of a system that allowed a team doctor to sexually abuse DOZENS girl for decades, including her. The article talks about Kerri Strug ‘sucking it up’ who was in the system of emotional abuse under the Karolyi era which is TERRIBLE to read about. Simone BIles is the BEST gymnast probably ever and does very dangerous things and falling the wrong way could paralyze her or worse. The sport is just as mental as it physical a broken mind space is just as bad as broken arm.

    • And the winner of Fragrant Rationalizer Of The Week is… YOU! (clapclapclapclap!)

      “If her head wasn’t in in should could have gone out and bombed EVERYTHING and no medal would have been won, by the team.”

      1. As an athlete, she is trained to have her “head in it.” That’s not even coherent.

      2. Going out and bombing is what every athlete risks. Being so afraid of failing that you can’t compete is for rank amateurs and children, not pros pulling down millions and endorsements. If she wasn’t better than that, she misled her team.

      3. “And..and…maybe if she bombed and lost she might have gone psycho and murdered everybody!” What’s the matter with you?

      “What would that headline look like?”

      4. Who cares? If you’re terrified on negative headlines, don’t be a public figure. Whenever a favorite chokes, they get criticized…except this time. At least the failures try. Biles is much worse. and should be seeing far worse headlines.

      5. “She is the tail end of a system that allowed a team doctor to sexually abuse DOZENS girl for decades, including her.” 100% irrelevant to the entire story. Talk about stretching to find excuses!

      6. “Simone BIles is the BEST gymnast probably ever.” Ridiculous. The best gymnasts don’t quit when their teams need them and when they aren’t at top form.

      7. “falling the wrong way could paralyze her or worse.” The time to worry about that is before one goes into gymnastics, or tries to excel.

      This is one of the most depressing comments I’ve ever read.

      • But typical of the usual excuse-making to excuse women for everything under the sun. You can’t be both equal and pandered to and coddled. I wish more women understood it.

      • There are four team members for women’s team gymnastics, but only three compete on each apparatus (vault, uneven bars, floor, and beam). There was no replacement for Biles. She was planning to do all four apparatuses, so whichever team member was not scheduled for an apparatus had to do it anyway.

  9. At the Spectator, Amber Athey restores some of my faith in women and argues that Biles’ assessment that she wasn’t fit to compete should have been made by Biles much sooner:

    “The timing of Biles’s decision suggests it had something to do with the mistakes she made during the team qualifying round. Biles flew way off the mat during her floor exercise, took a major step off the vault landing strip and bobbled part of her balance beam routine. In sports, mental toughness is key. It is a necessity to be able to recover from errors like this without having a breakdown. Biles, however, has not lost an all-around competition in eight years and emblazoned one of her Olympics leotards with a goat, referencing her ‘GOAT’ status. Is it all that surprising that someone this overconfident — some might say arrogant — would struggle to mentally rebound from a poor performance?… Biles’s decision also affected her teammates and her country. She chose not to leave until the middle of the competition, when it would have the biggest impact on the other US gymnasts. Several of them had to compete last-minute in events for which they had not prepared. And, in taking the pressure off herself, Biles unloaded even more onto her three much-younger teammates. Will the media and the US gymnastics team consider the effect that Biles’s withdrawal may have had on their mental health?”

    Bingo. If she gets any rich endorsement deal after this, it will be pure charity. She choked. Nobody rushed to fill Bill Buckner’s pockets…

  10. And as if I needed any more incentive to NOT watch the Olympics, I just saw a clip regarding the opening ceremony’s performance of John Lennon’s “Imagine.” Good grief!

  11. As somewhat of a contrarian and someone willing to kick the hornets nest, I’ll just throw out something without any expectation that it will be taken seriously (well, I know a very few might).
    Commenters here have been quick to jump on the band wagon of Biles denouncers. But, none of us have walked in her shoes (If there’s an Olympian in the crowd, please step up).
    Biles, I would propose, is a far better judge of athletic ability than any of us. I would further propose that she is a far better judge of her and her teammates ability than any of us are. Given that, she was in the best position to decide which team composition would have the best chance of winning the gold.
    Someone referred to her as a crusty veteran (at 24), and there have been on this site suggestions (demands) that those far enough past their prime just get the hell out of the way.
    So, why not, at the top of her game and starting to flag just a bit, why not say the team will do better if I step aside and let this up-and-comer take my place? Should she have done that before the Olympics? Sure, if that’s when the realization struck. Apparently it didn’t.
    So, why the rush to castigate her now when the realization did strike?

    • Heck, I’ve followed baseball long enough to know how fans complain when a manager insists on playing someone whose work ethic is impeccable, but simply doesn’t have it anymore. It could be that the withdrawal was a precautionary means to prevent a potential breakout of the yips.

    • I’d call this a desperate effort to be contrarian. Surely you don’t believe that. For one thing, it’s not her place or job to decide what composition of the team has the best chance of winning: that’s the coaches’ job. Imagine an astronaut pulling out of a scheduled moon flight saying, “Upon reflection and much as I’d like to go, I’ve decided that the chances of success are better with Phil here in my place.” Imagine a surprise pitching choice to start the 7th game of the Would Series declining, saying, “No, I think Joe over there, with his great off-speed stuff, would be a better choice. Use him.”

      Come on.

      I should also point out that I didn’t read or hear ANY “Biles denouncers” before I wrote my post, just Biles excusers.

      On the good side, thanks, sincerely, for flagging a rationalization that belongs on the list, and one that should have been IDed long ago. The hoary “Walk a mile in his shoes” line can be used to excuse everything from murder to suicide to grand theft. If you like, I’ll dedicate it to you.

      • “You can’t have an opinion on abortion because you aren’t a woman.”

        “You can’t have an opinion on military matters because you were never a soldier.”

        “You can’t have an opinion on immigration because your family has been here in comfort.”

        Isn’t it just an ad hominem diversion? Not necessarily a rationalization?

        • I think it’s closer to the Biblical rationalization, “Judge not lest ye be judged.” It’s really broader than the doges you mention, asserting that everyone’s lived experience is unique, so we have no reason or justification for being critical when we haven’t experienced the exact same problems, traumas, disappointments. Yes, it’s ad hominem and also feed into the “privilege” trope.

          • Nothing wrong with having opinions on abortions, the military, nor immigration, regardless of gender, work experience, or life situation. Nothing wrong with judging, either; ethicists do a lot of that.
            But, opinions and judgments need to be informed and rational. Those who have skin in the game have insights and perspectives that others do not have.
            I’m not aware of a way for a remote observer to know just what is in Biles’ mind, certainly not when she has not said much about it herself. So, we grasp what straws there are and leap to what conclusions we favor. Then, based on that imperfect knowledge, we decide whether that mental state would cause significant impairment of physical performance. Here, if we’ve done some type of difficult and dangerous physical activity that requires strong mental acuity, we might have the basis for knowing what we’re talking about, but only if we’ve guessed the mental state correctly.
            The timing of withdrawing after a poor (for her) vault performance could make it look as if she was protecting her own image and therefore letting her team down. But it could just as well be that on landing the vault, she realized the team would be stronger without her. FWIW, she had the 4th worst score of the 24 competitors in the vault.
            I did not find anything one way or the other as to whether coaches were involved in the decision.
            Bottom line, I’ll stick with my view that she was the one best able to make the decision, and with my impression that she did it for the good of the team.

      • Also, among the un-imaginable in sports: A Cy Young award winner, fresh off a victory over the Red Sox, leaves his team as they are headed into the playoffs and pursuing another World Series win. Tells the world, “I owe it to myself and to my family to get myself right.” Nah. Couldn’t happen.

          • Because it was. CC (See, I know my baseball lore) was, in fact, sick, and sick in a way that affects athletic performance. I have lots of alcoholics in my life. That’s a genuine health issue, easily as serious as an injury. And though he indeed won the game that clinched a play-off slot (as if it was in doubt), Sabathia was lousy in that season (2015), so you are kind of cheating to call him a Cy Young winner. His record was 6–10 record in 29 starts with a 4.73 ERA in 167+1⁄3 innings; in other words, the Yankees weren’t depending on him except maybe as a mop-up man. He was certainly not the team’s star, or top pitcher, so any comparison with Biles is kind of silly.

            And he got criticized anyway, much more than she has been. Ethics Alarms praised him.

              • I knew you would know the guy. And, I don’t disagree that, once a decision is made to rehab, acting on that decision immediately is critical, most especially for someone with such a long history of alcoholism (his book is fairly interesting and an easy read). We can’t see inside Biles’ mind, but her view seemed to be that there was a similar need to act immediately.

  12. One could compare Ms. Biles mental toughness with that of Giannis Antetompuko during the last game of the NBA finals in Milwaukee last week.
    His teammates all contributed enough to win, but all were off their usual scoring abilities. Their defense was great, but anticipation anxiety stole the accustomed timing and touch required to put the ball in the basket.
    Giannis saw all of that, hoped for it to change, but then hitched up his considerable drawers even further and poured in fifty. He had only two fouls and sunk 17 of 19 free throws which is not normally a strong point of his game. He rose to the moment for his team, coaches staff and city.
    He is naturally playful yet humble. From all appearances he is a committed Christian family man who was raised in poverty and money has yet to spoil him. Nobody forces him to spend the unbelievable amount of extra effort and gym hours that he puts in. His teammates even say they don’t know how he does it.
    My take is that Ms. Biles is getting bored with success and doesn’t want to risk losing. Unethical time to quit on her teammates though.

  13. Pure speculation, but I suspect Ms. Biles was under a lot of pressure to make some sort of political statement, but she just didn’t want to do that so she folded.

    • Great point. I wouldn’t be surprised at all, but this never occurred to me. Of course, the courageous and ethical thing to do would be to refuse to jump on the political bandwagon and to explain why.

      • It did not occur to me, either, because Biles has remained remarkably unpolitical over the last year, especially considering her status as the best all around gymnast at this moment and has a huge (“‘uge”?) megaphone.


  14. For every athlete who is considered the greatest ever, there comes that point where you’re just not any longer. Whether it’s mental, physical, or someone better comes along, your reign has a time limit. Some hang on for the money, some because they can’t accept it, and some because they just love what they do and don’t care if they’re not always number one. What bothers me about what Simone did is that she decided it was over after a disasterous vault. Not before the compeition, not during the extensive warm-ups, only after an awful performance that counted. I just get the feeling that pressure or not, as she’s been under this same pressure for a decade, it likely wasn’t about saving the team since she guaranteed they’d lose the gold at that point, that it’s more about losing the perception of perfection. Better to go out on top, than fall from grace.

    • I think this is appropriate:

      To an Athlete Dying Young

      By A. E. Housman

      The time you won your town the race
      We chaired you through the market-place;
      Man and boy stood cheering by,
      And home we brought you shoulder-high.

      Today, the road all runners come,
      Shoulder-high we bring you home,
      And set you at your threshold down,
      Townsman of a stiller town.

      Smart lad, to slip betimes away
      From fields where glory does not stay,
      And early though the laurel grows
      It withers quicker than the rose.

      Eyes the shady night has shut
      Cannot see the record cut,
      And silence sounds no worse than cheers
      After earth has stopped the ears.

      Now you will not swell the rout
      Of lads that wore their honours out,
      Runners whom renown outran
      And the name died before the man.

      So set, before its echoes fade,
      The fleet foot on the sill of shade,
      And hold to the low lintel up
      The still-defended challenge-cup.

      And round that early-laurelled head
      Will flock to gaze the strengthless dead,
      And find unwithered on its curls
      The garland briefer than a girl’s.

      It would have been better to walk away before this failure. It would have been better to try and fail. But no one likes a quitter.

  15. Suffice it to say no one knows her motivation for quitting the games midway. As a past sufferer of depression, I can attest that your thought process is not always rational. And if you contemplate suicide, you really don’t care about anyone or anything else other than yourself. If that is her problem, then my heart goes out to her. From experience, I can attest it is a very dark place where you feel all alone, overwhelmed, and totally without hope. If that is not her mental state, then I have very little compassion for her. Ethically she should have sucked it up and soldiered on.

    Given that she quit after very poor performances I suspect severe long-term depression is not her malady. If it was her poor performance would have been noticed long before she took the floor in this Olympics. Since we don’t know her reasoning we are left to speculate. One possible reason for quitting is as deep throat counseled “follow the money”.

    Most sources put her net worth at $ 6 Mil. Most of it coming from endorsements. If she performed poorly in this Olympics that money stream would probably diminish considerably. By claiming mental incapacity her poor performance could be excused and she might even pick up some additional sympathy cash. She could very well have made an arithmetic calculation. Staying in the competition and doing poorly results in a guaranteed cash flow reduction. Claim an illness that cannot be proved or disproved, and your cash flow could stay the same, go down marginally, or maybe even go up. Faced with a guaranteed cash flow loss vs potentially no or minimal loss it’s an easy decision if you don’t let pride and ethics get in the way.

    • You really think quitting the Olympics after a bad performance mid-Games protects her endorsements? Boy, I sure don’t. Unless she’s hauled off in a straitjacket, this will be attributed to fear, not injury or illness.

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