Simone Biles is an amazing athlete. There is no question about that. Recently, however, the focus has largely shifted from her physical ability to her decision making. Fans were in shock when she decided to pull out of the USA Women’s Team Gymnastics final and later, the Women’s Gymnastics Individual All-Around final.
The fact is, Simone Biles is the most impressive athlete to dominate the Olympic spotlight in the last several years. She has done things that no one else will even attempt. She has demonstrated her excellence in the sport time and again. Her decision to remove herself from competition certainly left a big hole in this years games.
Beyond the sport, however, this story is a bigger representation of something that is flawed in our country. Many have taken to the internet to call Biles out for “Letting America down” and not representing the USA. She has been criticized for putting herself before the team.
Some comments have pointed out that this illustrates a dramatic shift in our culture. That common tune of “My generation didn’t quit when things get tough” has emerged from those angry that Simone is not simply “pushing harder.” When we take everything into account, the recent controversy does clearly illustrate a problem.
The problem, however, is not a lack of perseverance on the part of Biles. It is a lack of compassion and understanding on the part of those who see through selfish glasses of nationalistic pride. Interestingly, she has been called selfish for taking time to tend to her mental health. Is it not funny that those who call her selfish are mad because she refuses to perform for them?
Ultimately, this is what it comes down to. People are mad at another human being for making their own decision and not providing the entertainment these “fans” feel entitled to. They talk about representing the team, and yet cannot respect the needs of a team member when it goes against what they want.
Any team will fall without compassion for its members. The same concept holds true for America. We are a divided and fractured community, but a community none the less. No matter how big and complex our country is, if we cannot learn to care about the members of our team, we cannot thrive.
Michael Snow is a writer, Social Media Manager and Marketer. He’s also a pretty okay human. Need content, send him a message.