Nadia and Nastia’s Nest, 2020 Summer Olympics Gymnastics

twoBshorty

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Whatever the issue was, if you are not 100% on your game in all facets in gymnastics at this level, it is hazardous to go ahead. If something is making you balk, it could end with a mistake that causes a broken neck. The low vault score before Biles withdrew was a warning sign, IMO, that she was smart to heed. Maybe after that she had the sudden “WTF am I doing?” epiphany. The myopic and gymnastics-obsessed may compare her unfavorably to Dalaloyan yesterday because it’s sitting right there, but as gutsy as it was, him competing on events that he wasn’t medically cleared for was manifestly unsafe and idiotic and probably shouldn’t have been allowed, no matter that it turned out ok. Biles did the right thing if that’s the position she assessed herself in.

Also, for my own view, Simone Biles has been horrifically abused in all kinds of ways for years by USAG, as have many of our other female gymnasts, the house has not been sufficiently cleaned, and USAG have no right to say one unkind word about any of this. Any mental issue she has is probably their fault. She owes them nothing.
 

BaseballJones

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They showed an interview with her that aired last night - though I don't know when the interview was done. She expressed her growing fears about doing some of the moves she can do - the crazy, high risk moves that nobody else in the world can do that led to the IOC limiting how many point she could score for fear that other athletes would try to do them and would get seriously hurt - I mean, just as an aside, how insane is that? This woman is SO good that they have to adjust the scoring just to keep others in the competition with her. Unreal.

Anyway, the interview made it clear that she was having all kinds of doubts and struggles even heading into the competition, and that the weight of the world was on her shoulders.

I also didn't realize until the other night that she had been a victim of Nasser's sexual abuse. As a dad of a daughter that's been through that, I was enraged (not that you have to have a daughter that's been through that to be angry).

Biles has been through a LOT and it just seemed to all pile up on her. I'm sure she thought she could get through it okay, which is why she didn't back out before the competition. But it must have reached a breaking point, obviously. :-(
 

Preacher

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To do some guess work, I think that you might be right in that the "not having as much fun anymore" line suggests that she has been having doubts and struggles previous to Tokyo. That being said, as a top competitor and confidence that you are the best in the world, I can see it likely that she convinced herself that when she got to Tokyo it would be different, or that she could overcome any anxiety she was having through the spirit of the Olympics, and she would never give up her spot on the team. A big hurdle with anxiety is the need to push yourself, to put yourself in situations that make you uncomfortable to show that you can beat it. Biles I'm sure got on the plane to Tokyo with the belief that she could beat it; but during the competition realized that the mental strain she was putting herself under was not healthy.
Not to mention, it’s not like this olympics would be anything like the previous. No family or friend support, no fans in the stands. I could imagine that someone at that level is used to performing in front of cheering fans and now she’s in an empty arena and doesn’t have that boost from the fans and family there cheering her on. So she may have expected the anxiety to pass based on her prior experiences competing but this was just totally different.

Anyways, I’m glad she was able to step back if she was feeling like her normal self. At the end of the day, it can be a pretty dangerous sport, especially if you’re not fully dialed in.
 

Kliq

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Not to mention, it’s not like this olympics would be anything like the previous. No family or friend support, no fans in the stands. I could imagine that someone at that level is used to performing in front of cheering fans and now she’s in an empty arena and doesn’t have that boost from the fans and family there cheering her on. So she may have expected the anxiety to pass based on her prior experiences competing but this was just totally different.

Anyways, I’m glad she was able to step back if she was feeling like her normal self. At the end of the day, it can be a pretty dangerous sport, especially if you’re not fully dialed in.
Yeah, I got similar vibes to what some NBA players mentioned last year while playing in the bubble. That coming in and quarantining is extremely stressful because you don't have the same kind of outlets to release stress and anxiety because you are essentially in lockdown, and its just basketball (in this case, gymnastics) all the time.

I have always been uncomfortable in general with women's gymnastics, it feels like a sport that prioritizes the youth of teenagers above their health and well-being.
 

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I have always been uncomfortable in general with women's gymnastics, it feels like a sport that prioritizes the youth of teenagers above their health and well-being.
Is gymnastics the only sport that has a minimum age to compete in the Olympics? That's got to be due to some sort of realization by the governing body(ies) that pushing these kids at too young an age is just a bad idea.
 

Fred not Lynn

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That's the only issue I have with this. I'm glad she has the wisdom and courage to withdraw and take care of herself, and I respect her decision immensely, but on the other hand I'd be pretty pissed if I was the the last person cut from the roster.
This was my first thought. Somewhere there is someone who walked out of Olympic Trials devastated…four long years…no FIVE long years, and the ONE thing that matters in your sport, the one thing people will ask you about thirty years later when they hear you had been a gymnast is gone, forever.

Somewhere in America a disappointed gymnast is eating cold cereal, watching tv at home in their underwear, thinking, “Mental health issues my ass. Anyone care about MY mental health?”

Simone Biles is a superstar, but that doesn’t give her the right to waste that spot. Everyone at the Olympics owes an appearance on the starting line to those they defeated to be there.
 

lexrageorge

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This was my first thought. Somewhere there is someone who walked out of Olympic Trials devastated…four long years…no FIVE long years, and the ONE thing that matters in your sport, the one thing people will ask you about thirty years later when they hear you had been a gymnast is gone, forever.

Somewhere in America a disappointed gymnast is eating cold cereal, watching tv at home in their underwear, thinking, “Mental health issues my ass. Anyone care about MY mental health?”

Simone Biles is a superstar, but that doesn’t give her the right to waste that spot. Everyone at the Olympics owes an appearance on the starting line to those they defeated to be there.
Not if doing so would threaten her own health and well being.
 

54thMA

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If you saw some of her interviews leading up to the Olympics this isn't surprising. She was so frustrated when 2020 was postponed because she couldn't wait for it to be over. She wasn't looking forward to it in any way.
I saw some of her comments, words to the effect that she's not a teenager anymore and she has injuries, aches and pains that she never had before, etc, etc.

I can only imagine what it must be like to train day after day after day and commit yourself totally to something, a year round pursuit. Also the mental aspect of the sport vs the physical aspect and how that wears on you too.

I am happy for her that she is thinking of herself first and what's best for her and her well being.

She's an amazing human being, I wish her nothing but the best, if she decides to continue to compete then great, if not, that's fine with me.

Anyone who says a negative thing about her has no soul.
 

twoBshorty

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Is gymnastics the only sport that has a minimum age to compete in the Olympics? That's got to be due to some sort of realization by the governing body(ies) that pushing these kids at too young an age is just a bad idea.
FINA requires divers to be 14 by the end of the calendar year to compete in the Olympics. It used to be 14 with FIG as well but it was increased to 15 in 1981 and 16 in 1997. Boxing is 18. It depends on the individual sport’s governing body.
 

Jnai

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I am glad for her as a person if this is what she felt was right. I'm not super into gymnastics, but my wife has watched all of these meets so I've seen a fair amount of Biles during the qualifiers etc, and she hasn't looked right all season. So I'm glad if this really did keep her from hurting herself.

But I don't see how this doesn't impact people's perception of her legacy. Yes, she pushed the sport into places it had never been. But also, she bowed out of the biggest competition in the sport.

I don't mean this particularly negatively - I'm more surprised than anything. She really leaned into this GOAT thing pretty hard. She qualified for the Olympics wearing bedazzled slippers that had goats on them. Not that public persona is a fair representation of mental health, but it's pretty shocking that of all athletes, it would be her that would experience this.
 

Fred not Lynn

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Not if doing so would threaten her own health and well being.
At minimum I would like to see Simone Biles publicly acknowledge and apologize to the person who stayed home so she could go to Tokyo and then withdraw. That person isn’t famous, so no one cares - but she has feelings, mental health needs of her own, and should matter as much as the famous person everyone is talking about.
 

Jnai

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At minimum I would like to see Simone Biles publicly acknowledge and apologize to the person who stayed home so she could go to Tokyo and then withdraw. That person isn’t famous, so no one cares - but she has feelings, mental health needs of her own, and should matter as much as the famous person everyone is talking about.
It's a selection committee, so she might not really even know who that person is, and I don't see how it helps that person to have the most famous gymnast in the world, at the height of her own mental crisis, direct 18847 reporters to their doorstep to ask questions like "Do you hate Simone Biles or not? Do you accept her apology?", which would put them in a fucking awful position. (If Jade Carey doesn't get to compete in the individual all-around, then she probably deserves such an apology, but I don't see how it helps anything right now.)

To clarify for others, the US is only allowed to have 2 spots in the individual all-around competition, even if multiple other team members would qualify based on points (so, if the US has the top 4 gymnasts, they can only send 2 to the individual all-around). Simone Biles qualified for one of those spots. Jade Carey, who was maligned herself for qualifying to Tokyo in a weird way based on some strange international points rules rather than team selection processes, threw down during the qualifiers, only to lose out by tenths of a point in a debatable scoring decision to Suni Lee (who currently owns the other US spot). Anyway, I think it's currently unknown as to whether Carey will be able to take Biles' individual all-around spot. Of all the people materially impacted by this decision, I think she has the best case if they don't allow her to use that spot.
 
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djbayko

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Simone Biles is a superstar, but that doesn’t give her the right to waste that spot. Everyone at the Olympics owes an appearance on the starting line to those they defeated to be there.
At minimum I would like to see Simone Biles publicly acknowledge and apologize to the person who stayed home so she could go to Tokyo and then withdraw. That person isn’t famous, so no one cares - but she has feelings, mental health needs of her own, and should matter as much as the famous person everyone is talking about.
This is ridiculous. You have no idea how events transpired. If she genuinely intended to compete in the Olympics, then she owes no such apology. She can say she feels sorry if she wants to, but she doesn't owe anything.

Jesus Christ. Sorry, @canderson , maybe you were right. I didn't expect to see those sentiments here. No wonder she feels so much pressure.
 
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Comfortably Lomb

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At minimum I would like to see Simone Biles publicly acknowledge and apologize to the person who stayed home so she could go to Tokyo and then withdraw. That person isn’t famous, so no one cares - but she has feelings, mental health needs of her own, and should matter as much as the famous person everyone is talking about.
It sounds like she showed up fully intending to compete and realized she's just not in a position to do so right now. I don't think she owes an apology to anyone.
 

canderson

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This is ridiculous. You have no idea how events transpired. If she genuinely intended to compete in the Olympics, then she owes no such apology. She can say she feels sorry if she wants to, but she doesn't owe anything.

Jesus Christ. Sorry, @canderson , maybe you were right. I didn't expect to see those sentiments here. No wonder she feels so much pressure.
I think it's going to be pretty rough for her. "She let America down" is a shitshow.
 

Fred not Lynn

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It sounds like she showed up fully intending to compete and realized she's just not in a position to do so right now. I don't think she owes an apology to anyone.
Maybe apology is not the right word, but at least an acknowledgment.

And given the complexity of the qualifying process, that person might now even be American…and “they” might not know exactly who it is, but I guarantee you THAT person knows who they are.

The problem is everyone here is commending the famous Simone Biles on looking after her own mental health with zero regard for some obscure non-Olympian, because we don’t even know her name.

It’s like the quadrennial media pieces about “Post-Olympic Depression” where we’re supposed to feel sad for the poor young people who are down because the greatest experience of their lives is over. How about you all try on “Post-Olympic Trials Depression” for size instead?
 

BaseballJones

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The recent examples of athletes bowing out of major events (French Open, Olympics, etc.) has me wondering about the idea of mental toughness. Mental toughness is the ability to work through all the haze and pressure and external and internal stuff that keeps you from performing at your peak. Now nobody can question Biles' mental toughness, as she's proven herself many times over. But how do we balance the need for mental toughness with the recognition that athletes (like the rest of us) need to tend to their mental health?

We celebrate athletes who are going through massive struggles and overcome them. For example, athletes who fight through sickness or injury, or athletes who play the day after a loved one dies and who are dealing with massive amounts of grief.

How is this all supposed to work?
 

johnmd20

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This is ridiculous. You have no idea how events transpired. If she genuinely intended to compete in the Olympics, then she owes no such apology. She can say she feels sorry if she wants to, but she doesn't owe anything.

Jesus Christ. Sorry, @canderson , maybe you were right. I didn't expect to see those sentiments here. No wonder she feels so much pressure.
Yeah, she's really getting ripped to shreds in this thread.

It's fine to say that Biles should do everything to take care of herself and it's also fine to say that her choosing this particular moment to step aside let her team down. She's not being excoriated. But the greatest gymnast in history lost her edge at the worst moment. It's just an unfortunate and disappointing result but not a travesty, they still won the silver.
 

Marciano490

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I'm not going to blast her, but shouldn't she have figured this out prior to the Olympics to give someone else a shot?
I’m sure you can imagine the pressure and doubt ratchet up in the days before competition in ways that are impossible to predict.

Also, after watching At the Heart of Gold, the documentary on the Nasser scandal, it’s impossible for me to criticize any gymnast. The sport is horribly abusive, even taking out the straight up molestation many athletes endured.

After the shit McKayla Maroney took for her “sneer”, I’d be super careful over criticizing anything any of our gymnasts do.
 

Marciano490

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Maybe apology is not the right word, but at least an acknowledgment.

And given the complexity of the qualifying process, that person might now even be American…and “they” might not know exactly who it is, but I guarantee you THAT person knows who they are.

The problem is everyone here is commending the famous Simone Biles on looking after her own mental health with zero regard for some obscure non-Olympian, because we don’t even know her name.

It’s like the quadrennial media pieces about “Post-Olympic Depression” where we’re supposed to feel sad for the poor young people who are down because the greatest experience of their lives is over. How about you all try on “Post-Olympic Trials Depression” for size instead?
Maybe the obscure non-Olympian should’ve been better at gymnastics? Why should I care about someone who couldn’t make the team on her own and why would anyone feel good about making the team only when its best meme bet drops out.
 

djbayko

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Yeah, she's really getting ripped to shreds in this thread.

It's fine to say that Biles should do everything to take care of herself and it's also fine to say that her choosing this particular moment to step aside let her team down. She's not being excoriated. But the greatest gymnast in history lost her edge at the worst moment. It's just an unfortunate and disappointing result but not a travesty, they still won the silver.
Saying things like “that doesn’t give her the right” and “at minimum I expect” seem way out of line to me. Who the hell are we?

We don’t know the name of the girl who’s sitting at home right now. And we don’t know the name of the second girl after her, or the third, or… We don’t worry about the guy in AAA ball when a major leaguer fails on the big stage. What about the guy who’s sitting at home because that AAA roster is full? Where does it end? It’s just the way the world works.

These girls earned the right to be on the Olympic team. That’s why we know their names. I feel bad about any human suffering or sadness but I’m not sure what that has to do with Simone Biles.

Nevermind that she’s a survivor of abuse at the hands of her own sport, and on top of that she’s given fans and teammates plenty over the years.
 

jezza1918

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My analogy might be slightly off here, so please call me out if so...but to me if an athlete has a slightly nagging physical injury, but checks in with his/her medical team and is given the go ahead, and then the injury comes home to roost forcing that athlete to pull out, would that athlete be forced to apologize?
Because, to me, that's what happened here. I doubt Biles' mental health issues popped up out of nowhere 24 hours ago. She's been dealing with these (as many athletes have) types of issues for years, and works on them.* And I'd be shocked if she hadn't discussed them at all with her coaches/medical team leading up to Tokyo. And was given, and gave herself, the go-ahead.
She owes an apology to no one.

*and I don't even know how to begin to approach typical mental health issues & athletes with the Nasser scandal.
 

Fred not Lynn

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Maybe the obscure non-Olympian should’ve been better at gymnastics? Why should I care about someone who couldn’t make the team on her own and why would anyone feel good about making the team only when its best meme bet drops out.
You’re absolutely correct that if you don’t want to be on the bad side of this equation you just need to get it done at Olympic Trials. Period.

That said, being a super star shouldn’t give one the moral right to simply hoard start positions to use or not use at will.

And if you’re one spot away, you’ll take that spot - especially if you’re a US female gymnast; You’re a top ten contender. You belong there.

And no, YOU don’t need to care, but I would like to see Simone Biles care, at least a tiny bit…
 

johnmd20

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Saying things like “that doesn’t give her the right” and “at minimum I expect” seem way out of line to me. Who the hell are we?

We don’t know the name of the girl who’s sitting at home right now. And we don’t know the name of the second girl after her, or the third, or… We don’t worry about the guy in AAA ball when a major leaguer fails on the big stage. What about the guy who’s sitting at home because that AAA roster is full? Where does it end? It’s just the way the world works.

These girls earned the right to be on the Olympic team. That’s why we know their names. I feel bad about any human suffering or sadness but I’m not sure what that has to do with Simone Biles.

Nevermind that she’s a survivor of abuse at the hands of her own sport, and on top of that she’s given fans and teammates plenty over the years.
Ok. Who is arguing with all of your strawmen?

Are you suggesting that the team shouldn't be disappointed they didn't win gold? It's ok to be disappointed in the result. But you are really heaping a lot of stuff on a couple of posts.
 

djbayko

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Ok. Who is arguing with all of your strawmen?

Are you suggesting that the team shouldn't be disappointed they didn't win gold? It's ok to be disappointed in the result. But you are really heaping a lot of stuff on a couple of posts.
I thought I made it clear what I was taking issue with since I quoted it twice. You're jumping in and making a completely different argument about the team not winning gold. Yes, her teammates probably would have rather won the gold medal. We agree on that. But that wasn't the point being made in the posts I replied to.
 

Marciano490

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You’re absolutely correct that if you don’t want to be on the bad side of this equation you just need to get it done at Olympic Trials. Period.

That said, being a super star shouldn’t give one the moral right to simply hoard start positions to use or not use at will.

And if you’re one spot away, you’ll take that spot - especially if you’re a US female gymnast; You’re a top ten contender. You belong there.

And no, YOU don’t need to care, but I would like to see Simone Biles care, at least a tiny bit…
This is a person who has had historic performances for years and years at the highest levels not only dealing with various injuries but representing a sport, association and country that turned away as she and her teammates were molested. Her mental fortitude is beyond doubt.

Like many athletes, I’m sure she thought her mindset would improve as the competition approached. I don’t get the sense she was just place holding a spot hoping she may wake up day of feeling good to go.
 

McSweeny

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Maybe she has already acknowledged, maybe she’s already reached out - certainly hope either that, or that eventually she will. It would be an extremely meaning gesture…
Sure but what makes you think she was “hoarding” a spot? What about Biles’ gymnastics career makes you think she doesn’t care about the US team? She has specifically used her voice and platform to bring about positive changes to a program that oversaw the sexual abuse of dozens of children. Again I’ll say that giving her anything but the benefit of the doubt feels extremely unfair.
 
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Ralphwiggum

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She tried to compete and then decided she couldn't. She's the best gymnast in the world, maybe she was having confidence issues before and felt like she could (or had to) push through them. Or maybe she was totally fine until she got to the event and then the enormity of what is on her shoulders got to her. I find it ridiculous to say she "hoarded" a spot that could have gone to someone else unless it turns out she knew she was going to do this all along. And even then, given who she is, maybe she simply felt she didn't have the option of taking her name out of consideration for a spot on the team.

There's a last person cut from every olympics team in every sport. That's the nature of the game. In addition to everything else she is dealing with shaming her for hoarding a spot on the team just seems beyond ridiculous.
 

Deathofthebambino

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I think Biles is actually hurt. I thought she was hurt when she was at the qualifiers (everyone was in shock when she fell off the beam), and she's looked "off" ever since.

The cynic in me believes that she and USA gymnastics and probably NBC decided that it was worth way more for her to show up and then bow out than it was for her to stay home. NBC has reportedly sold something like $250 million in ad buys that were slated to run specifically during her appearances in primetime. She was destined to make a ton of money from her sponsorships, including Athleta, who she just jumped to from Nike recently.

If she is hurt, I suspect they'll let this "decision" to pull out or not pull out of the individual events go on for a few more days, and then we'll get the announcement that she's heading home from Tokyo.

If this was indeed mental, and she was afraid of ending up on a stretcher, she could have honestly just toned back her routine and not done any of the truly death defying stuff she was planning to try and probably still won everything quite easily.

Either way, I don't really care. Simone Biles doesn't owe me or any American anything. She's the GOAT, and if there is a financial reason for her deciding to go and then bail, I've got no problem with that either. As far as I'm concerned, NBC and USA Gymnastics should be cutting her massive checks for what she has given them the last decade, and for what they've done to her between the Nassar stuff, the Karoly ranch, etc.
 

lexrageorge

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The nature of high-level competition is that the athletes will force themselves to compete even when not 100%. Biles did not achieve the heights she achieved by ducking away any time she felt less well than normal. She made a decision to attempt to persevere through whatever demons she was battling. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to predict in advance the course those demons took.

The idea she owes anyone an apology is ludicrous. If a male athlete dropped out, nobody would even think to bring up such an idea.
 

BaseballJones

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The nature of high-level competition is that the athletes will force themselves to compete even when not 100%. Biles did not achieve the heights she achieved by ducking away any time she felt less well than normal. She made a decision to attempt to persevere through whatever demons she was battling. Unfortunately, she wasn't able to predict in advance the course those demons took.

The idea she owes anyone an apology is ludicrous. If a male athlete dropped out, nobody would even think to bring up such an idea.
I agree with your larger point that she doesn't owe anyone an apology. But your last line is a bridge too far, IMO. I see no reason whatsoever to think that she's being criticized (any criticism of her is minimal, as far as I can tell) because she's a female.

If Cam Newton or Mac Jones took the Patriots to the Super Bowl, and then stepped out before the game, citing mental health issues, you don't think there'd be just as much (or more) criticism?

Heck, remember when Cam Newton didn't dive for the fumble in the SB against Denver? That's probably a bit of a mental health issue - fear of getting hurt. Which is legitimate, because, well, I would think that diving and extending your arms only to have a legitimate ton of human mass land on you is a good way to get seriously hurt. But he didn't, and he got eviscerated for it.
 

lexrageorge

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Agree about Biles, don’t agree that a guy wouldn’t take heat.
I agree with your larger point that she doesn't owe anyone an apology. But your last line is a bridge too far, IMO. I see no reason whatsoever to think that she's being criticized (any criticism of her is minimal, as far as I can tell) because she's a female.
You're both right and I was wrong. Just have to look back to the reaction of Tuuka Rask pulling out of the playoffs last year. Still, the concept of Biles owing anyone anything just grates on me; nobody has any idea of what she is going through, or what she went through to lead the US team to successive gold medals.
 
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BaseballJones

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You're both right and I was wrong. Just have to look back to the reaction of Tukka Rask pulling out of the playoffs last year. Still, the concept of Biles owing anyone anything just grates on me; nobody has any idea of what she is going through, or what she went through to lead the US team to successive gold medals.
Agreed. And Rask is a great, and recent, example of a male athlete (and a white male athlete) getting major heat for pulling out of competition for mental health reasons.
 

DJnVa

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Agreed. And Rask is a great, and recent, example of a male athlete (and a white male athlete) getting major heat for pulling out of competition for mental health reasons.
Rask pulled out because his daughter was sick, no?

Granted, before we knew that, he was likely getting some heat based on folk assuming things.
 

Fred not Lynn

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The idea she owes anyone an apology is ludicrous. If a male athlete dropped out, nobody would even think to bring up such an idea.
I would say EXACTLY the same things I am saying if she were a male athlete.

And I backpedaled from “apology” to “acknowledgement” for the person who stayed home. And no, other than to that person, she owes nothing to anyone.
 

lexrageorge

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I would say EXACTLY the same things I am saying if she were a male athlete.

And I backpedaled from “apology” to “acknowledgement” for the person who stayed home. And no, other than to that person, she owes nothing to anyone.
I also retracted the male athlete comment above. At this point, I'm just planning to wait things out a bit and see what happens in the upcoming days and weeks and hope that Biles comes out of it OK.
 

dirtynine

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Did the team take a penalty for her dropping out? Or did others just cover her events?
 

BaseballJones

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Rask pulled out because his daughter was sick, no?

Granted, before we knew that, he was likely getting some heat based on folk assuming things.
I don't know exactly, but he himself, if I recall, cited mental health issues.
 

Pitt the Elder

Member
SoSH Member
Sep 7, 2013
3,021
The recent examples of athletes bowing out of major events (French Open, Olympics, etc.) has me wondering about the idea of mental toughness. Mental toughness is the ability to work through all the haze and pressure and external and internal stuff that keeps you from performing at your peak. Now nobody can question Biles' mental toughness, as she's proven herself many times over. But how do we balance the need for mental toughness with the recognition that athletes (like the rest of us) need to tend to their mental health?

We celebrate athletes who are going through massive struggles and overcome them. For example, athletes who fight through sickness or injury, or athletes who play the day after a loved one dies and who are dealing with massive amounts of grief.

How is this all supposed to work?
I think one of the challenges here is that "mental health" is a nebulous phrase that within itself holds multitudes. We have no idea what kind of mental health issue Biles had and no frame of reference we can use to gauge how big of a hurdle this was for her to continue competing and to do so safely. Is it akin to a torn ACL? A sprained ankle? A leg cramp? I think treating all mental health issues as equally severe and beyond reproach is the wrong approach to take, especially because it gives athletes no clear guidance about how they should handle their own issues.

The pressures of being a professional athlete, especially a gold-medal favorite, are undoubtedly huge. These athletes face fears and anxieties that the rest of us can't even begin to understand. I'm sure Katie Ledecky getting silver in the 400m then immediately having to go on TV in front of a global audience and calmly answer inane questions from Michelle Tafoya about when she "knew the tide turned" against her in the race, and I doubt doing so was good for her mental health. That's something any sane person would be afraid of. But is this not something she and her coaches should anticipate and equip her to cope with? Should we not celebrate her mental toughness for doing it? I don't think it's wrong to expect an athlete that benefits so handsomely from her status as one of the best athletes in the world to take proactive steps to protect her mind the same way she would protect her body.

I think it's also important to note that these megastars aren't the only athletes that face mental health issues and that nearly every athlete at the Olympics has a slew of mini-mental health battles. Maybe the stakes aren't quite as high, but they're fighting them all the same.

As for Biles, I have no idea what mental health issue she faced today and I believe her when she says her personal safety and her teammates' chances of success by continuing to compete, but it needs to be clearly communicated to the media and the public what this acute mental health injury is. Any commentary about the sport not being fun anymore more or the physical aches and pains she's feeling as she gets older are going to invite questions about her real reasons for not competing.
 

Marciano490

Urological Expert
SoSH Member
Nov 4, 2007
50,295
I think one of the challenges here is that "mental health" is a nebulous phrase that within itself holds multitudes. We have no idea what kind of mental health issue Biles had and no frame of reference we can use to gauge how big of a hurdle this was for her to continue competing and to do so safely. Is it akin to a torn ACL? A sprained ankle? A leg cramp? I think treating all mental health issues as equally severe and beyond reproach is the wrong approach to take, especially because it gives athletes no clear guidance about how they should handle their own issues.

The pressures of being a professional athlete, especially a gold-medal favorite, are undoubtedly huge. These athletes face fears and anxieties that the rest of us can't even begin to understand. I'm sure Katie Ledecky getting silver in the 400m then immediately having to go on TV in front of a global audience and calmly answer inane questions from Michelle Tafoya about when she "knew the tide turned" against her in the race, and I doubt doing so was good for her mental health. That's something any sane person would be afraid of. But is this not something she and her coaches should anticipate and equip her to cope with? Should we not celebrate her mental toughness for doing it? I don't think it's wrong to expect an athlete that benefits so handsomely from her status as one of the best athletes in the world to take proactive steps to protect her mind the same way she would protect her body.

I think it's also important to note that these megastars aren't the only athletes that face mental health issues and that nearly every athlete at the Olympics has a slew of mini-mental health battles. Maybe the stakes aren't quite as high, but they're fighting them all the same.

As for Biles, I have no idea what mental health issue she faced today and I believe her when she says her personal safety and her teammates' chances of success by continuing to compete, but it needs to be clearly communicated to the media and the public what this acute mental health injury is. Any commentary about the sport not being fun anymore more or the physical aches and pains she's feeling as she gets older are going to invite questions about her real reasons for not competing.
This is a horrible take. We know exactly how acute the mental issues were. Enough to make someone mentally tougher than anyone here walk away from her dream. She doesn’t owe us any explanation.