Questions, Theories And Observations On The End Of The Simone Biles Affair [Corrected]

Biles medal ceremony

Well, the last on Ethics Alarms, anyway, I hope. I wish I could justify not dealing with the “rest of the story,” but I can’t: too much metaphorical ink has been spilled here, there and everywhere over this annoying Ethics Train Wreck.

To bring you up to date, Biles returned to Olympics competition on the balance beam today (well today in Japan) and did well enough to win the bronze medal. She performed back handsprings, flips, split leaps and a double back flip for her dismount, but it was a safe routine not calculated to win. She did not, for example, dismount with the signature move named after her.

What’s going on here? Damned if I know. After debating a number of Biles defenders and reading the relentless spin being offered up by the mainstream media, it is clear to me, at least, that whatever Biles did or didn’t do, said or didn’t say, these people would stick to the established compassionate narrative. Biles, meanwhile, would follow a scripted effort to salvage some of her value as a celebrity cash cow after an Olympics disaster that would have sunk any similarly acclaimed male athlete, and most female ones.

Here’s how the New York Times began its story about Biles, the Greatest Of All Time, aka GOAT, not being able to be better than the third best in a single Olympics gymnastics event:

“Simone Biles didn’t want her Olympics, and perhaps her career, to end with her in the stands and not on the competition floor. It couldn’t end that way, after all, considering everything she had sacrificed to make it to the Tokyo Games. She suffered through years of self-doubt as a sexual abuse survivor after realizing that Lawrence G. Nassar, the longtime U.S. national team doctor, had molested her. And she had endured an extra year of training on aching muscles and painful ankles and dealing with U.S.A. Gymnastics, the entity that failed to prevent her abuse.”

Such shameless framing of an elite athlete’s failure in order to ensure minimal accountability has surely never appeared in print before in a reputable publication. Did any account of Babe Ruth failing to come through for his team in a big game ever begin with a reference to his traumatic upbringing in a shabby Baltimore orphanage? Was Ty Cobb excused for attacking a fan during a game because of the trauma he suffered when learning about the tragic death of his father? [ Notice of Correction: In the original post, I wrote that Cobb’s father had committed suicide, which is what I thought I knew. I was wrong, and should have checked. I apologize for putting more misinformation into the web. Much thanks to LoSonnambulo for alerting me.] No, because the various traumas and tragedies athletes have suffered on their way to triumphs, celebrity, fame, and wealth are irrelevant to their performance in their chosen sports—except for Simone Biles.

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A Simone Biles Thought Experiment I Dare Her Apologists To Try…

Womens soccer goalie

The New York Times writes of the U.S. Women’s Soccer team’s desperate-needed victory over the Netherlands in the Olympics:

“It was only afterward that Alyssa Naeher let down her guard. After she had dived to saved the penalty kick late in the game. After she had dived again to push aside the header in extra time. After she had turned away not one but two penalties in the shootout. Naeher’s teammates count on her to do her job as well as they do theirs every time they take the field. Better than they do even, since their mistakes have a tendency to wind up in the back of her net.

In the quarterfinals of the Olympic tournament on Friday, facing a dangerous Netherlands attack, that had already happened twice. Now the United States needed Naeher to save them again. After the teams played a 2-2 tie, a penalty kick shootout would decide who would go to the semifinals, and who would go home. The Americans turned to Naeher. Save us, they said. Just like you have before. “There’s no one else I’d rather have in the net than her,” midfielder Rose Lavelle said later. “She’s saved us so many times.” And so Naeher, who had saved her teams in big games and small ones, in World Cups and friendlies, saved them again.”

Now imagine that Naeher suddenly announced when the game was a tie that she would not guard the goal in the shootout, but was quitting the game. “It’s been really stressful, this Olympic Games,” she says. “I think just as a whole, not having an audience, there are a lot of different variables going into it. It’s been a long week, it’s been a long Olympic process, it’s been a long year. So just a lot of different variables, and I think we’re just a little bit too stressed out. But we should be out here having fun, and sometimes that’s not the case. I truly do feel like I have the weight of the world on my shoulders at times.”

So she quits, just as her team is depending on her. The back-up goalie takes her place, and the American Women’s Soccer Team loses, and is out of the Olympics.

Would Naeher be hailed as a hero and a role model? Would her team mates say afterwards that they support her decision 100%?

Comment Of The Day: “Gee, Jason Whitlock, What Do You REALLY Think About Simone Biles’ Quitting On The Olympics?”

Yes, I guess this is the sixth post related to the Simone Biles controversy. Isaac’s Comment of the Day elaborates on one of the many reasons this episode bothered me so much and continues to, especially as the excuses and rationalizations for Biles’ conduct appear to be taking over the “narrative” in the absence of what I consider persuasive facts and arguments. The next ugly shoe to drop, I predict, will be when the female American gymnast who won a gold in Tokyo gets endorsement contracts in preference to the “Greatest of All Time” who somehow couldn’t access that greatness when the spotlight was on, and chose not to try. The preference for the winner over the “hero” will be attributed to malign influences. Just wait.

Giving women appropriate power and influence in American culture has been generally beneficial to all, but the ascension of traditional female virtues has had the unfortunate effect of diluting some of the the very values that allowed the United States to come into existence and succeed over the centuries. The disastrous handling of the pandemic has been one example of how this development is not an unalloyed good, and the fact that Biles’ conduct is not merely greeted with sympathy, which is nice, but praise, which is offensive, is another.

Here is Isaac’s Comment of the Day on the post, “Gee, Jason Whitlock, What Do You REALLY Think About Simone Biles’ Quitting On The Olympics?”

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America used to be associated with very masculine qualities: toughness, stoicism, risk-taking. This reputation did not exclude American women. Harriet Tubman, Sojourner Truth, Calamity Jane, Amelia Earhart.

It’s easy to point out the Generation X and millennials’ glaring lack of these qualities, but to me it’s their parents who steered America wrong. Specifically every boomer who jumped on the socialist bandwagon and participated in the 1960s and 70s revolutions against marriage, Christianity, monogamy, patriotism, sobriety, and hard work. The ones who think Woodstock was some kind of beautiful, transformative event. The ones who wax nostalgic about the “Summer of Love” when their poorly-raised grandkids turn chunks of Seattle into murder-dystopias. The generation that necessitated the invention of the term “latch-key kid” to describe their neglected children.

So I perused Simone Biles’ Wikipedia page, and, sure enough…in and out of foster care…abandoned by Mom…no Dad ever in the picture. Showed incredible talent that was her ticket to a secure future, only to be one of the gymnasts sexually exploited by serial abuser and boomer Larry Nassau. Diagnosed with ADHD; currently on medication. These are the symptoms of growing up in a world created by the values of the 60s and 70s. We can mock them for not knowing how to talk to girls, change a tire, be in a stable relationship, or cope with stress…but these are things people learn from their dads, their faith, and their stable community of neighbors, extended family, and church. Younger generations were not only not given those things; they were taught they didn’t need them.

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Unethical Quote Of The Month: NBC Gymnastics Commentator Nastia Liukin

2021 Gymnastics - Nastia Cup

I’m not going to pull a single quote from former gymnast and current ethics corrupter Liukin’s much-praised and shockingly awful letter slobbering all over Simone Biles. The whole thing is revolting, and as riddled with offensive anti-ethics as Sonny Corleone was riddled with bullets. Here it is—I’m going to letter each line for reference.

Dear Simone,

Thank you.

A. Thank you for showing the depth of who you are beyond an athlete as a leader, role model, mental health warrior, and person.

B. Thank you for epitomizing what the next generation of role models should be.

C. Thank you for creating a safer space for current and future athletes to unequivocally be themselves.

D. Thank you for helping the world realize that prioritizing your physical and mental health is the mark of a true champion.

E. Thank you for illuminating that nobody is defined by the depth of their trophy case, and that you don’t owe anything to anyone but yourself and the pursuit of happiness.

F. Thank you for taking the sport of gymnastics to new heights as the unanimous GOAT. No one will be remembered for any single routine, competition, or medal.

G.You, however, will undeniably be remembered by many for the compassion and bravery shown here in Tokyo.

H.You came here as a gymnast, and you’re leaving as a hero.

xo NL

Wait, I have to gag…ACK!!PTUI!GGGGACK!

I think it’s past, but as I review this astounding exercise in gaslighting and designating as admirable what isn’t, my gorge may rise again, so you have been warned. Well..

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Gee, Jason Whitlock, What Do You REALLY Think About Simone Biles’ Quitting On The Olympics?

simone-biles

Yikes.

I felt that the feminist hypocrisy allowing Simone Biles to bail on her team when it depended on her as its star and foundation was enough; for once in 20121, the racial angle wasn’t necessary to get into. Am I convinced that if Mary Lou Retton had similarly withdrawn from the Olympics competition because she felt like she had “the weight of the world” on her shoulders she would have also been given a big group hug, near unanimous sympathy and “the King’s Pass”? Yes, I do.

However, defiant conservative black sports pundit Jason Whitlock has taken a racial approach to the Biles fiasco, and as is usually the case with Whitock, he takes no prisoners. Also as usual, he’s spot on.

Some excerpts:

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Comment Of The Day: “Simone Biles Betrayed Her Team…Stop Making Excuses For Her”

USA gymnastics

Well, I can write about the great issues of the day here or universal ethics principles, and attract crickets, but when a spoiled superstar female gymnast chokes on the Olympics stage, THAT attracts the most comments in a 24 hour period that Ethics Alarms has seen in months.

Actually, there is more of ethical significance to the Simone Biles Affair than is immediately apparent. The main issue, I think, may be the hypocrisy of feminists and sports journalists who rush to rationalize conduct by a young woman that no male athlete of any note would ever get away with. There are also profound issues of character, duties to one’s team, the ethics of sport and the the narcissism that celebrity creates. There are also some issues that I expect to emerge down the metaphorical road. For example, I haven’t yet encountered anyone arguing that criticism of Biles’ choke is racist, but given the response in Japan to Naoimi Osaka’s shocking loss in tennis, I expect that is coming. I also have written in my head the Ethics Alarms post responding to any post-Olympics product endorsement deals that come Biles’ way.

Yet another issue is raised by the Comment of the Day by JStevens, in what appears to be his inaugural contributions here, as his reaction to the post, “Simone Biles Betrayed Her Team…Stop Making Excuses For Her”…

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Simone Biles Betrayed Her Team…Stop Making Excuses For Her

Biles

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!”

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