Since Simone Biles announced she was taking a step back from the Olympic competition. I’ve seen many different opinions on her decision.
Opinions - not facts - and those opinions are primarily being expressed by people that not only don’t know Biles personally, nor care about her well-being, but have never competed at that level.
I’m the first to say I am not an athlete. Heck, I am doing good to walk and chew gum at the same time, so there’s no way I could do any of the feats Biles has done in her young life.
But I do have a background in psychology and health and wellness, and know how important self-care, especially mental self-care, is.
Biles said she was needing to focus on her mental health and added that she felt like mental health was important in sports right now.
Her statement has caused people - those armchair Olympians - to say she is a “quitter,” not a team player, and letting her country down.
My disappointment in those statements are also wrapped in anger.
First of all, you don’t make it to the Olympics by quitting anything. The level of training and commitment those athletes put in is something most of us can’t even fathom.
She is absolutely being a team player by stepping back. She is part of a team. A team. As a team, if one person can’t participate, the rest of the team is there to jump in. By saying she is letting her team and her country down is totally negating and dissing the efforts, time and training the rest of Team USA put in.
In no way is she letting her country down; this country needs to quit focusing on the idols they have created as symbols of patriotism and focus on things that truly impact our country - not sports.
But it’s easier to latch onto something that we have no true connection to and be outraged and upset about because we like to feel united in misguided anger.
Let’s go back to Biles’ comment about mental health in sports right now.
According to Chang et al (2020), there has been evidence of eating disorders, increased anxiety and occurrence of eating disorders, and lower levels of self-esteem in elite athletes. Why would we want anyone to endure that?
As a human being, why would we want anyone to endure that?
Further research has shown that there is tremendous stigma behind mental health and athletes which prevents them from seeking treatment when needed. Instead of being applauded for addressing a wide-spread issue for all athletes, Biles is being chastised and ridiculed for advocating for herself and her own wellness.
That’s another thing that bothers me. As an athlete there is some erroneous belief, she is not able to say “No.” She knows her body the best. She knows how she feels mentally and physically, and if she is not up to flinging her body into the air at incredible heights and speeds, she should be able to make that call.
I’ve always watched Biles in awe at what she can do and envied her skill, ability and gifts. Now, I am wondering how she is, if she is getting the true care she needs, and hope she is feeling peace with her decision.
If anyone is questioning her abilities, this is her list of achievements.
She’s 24 years old. She’s been competing since she was 6.
She owes us absolutely nothing.
But we owe her a tremendous amount of compassion, support, and grace.
Sudie Crouch is an award-winning humor columnist and author of the recently e-published novel, "The Dahlman Files: A Tony Dahlman Paranormal Mystery."