Updated: Sep 4
Simone Biles flies to Tokyo, trains rigorously for two weeks and then on the day of the competition denies herself the chance of an Olympic medal for reasons regarding her mental health, successfully reigniting the flames of a pot that have been brewing for months—if not years.
The Olympics have historically been a bipartisan event where nations unite, and political parties put their differences aside in the spirit of good sportsmanship. Countries come together from far and wide to cheer for their favorite athletes with the hope of victory. With this information in mind, and considering the delicate nature of mental health related conversations—shouldn’t we let Simone eat her sushi in peace?
Liberals were quick to defend Biles against the onslaught of right winged criticism, after a year and a half of Pandemic related anxieties. The left leaning would say that Simone recently lost a relative and shouldn’t be put under the intense scrutiny of international gaze so prematurely, while others would argue that a 21-year-old should communicate her anxieties better to her superiors in advance, in the hopes of perhaps giving another team member a chance...instead of waiting till the very last minute to withdraw.
Piers Morgan’s fingers danced vigorously over the grease on his phone screen after the official announcement of Bile’s decision, resulting in a menacing tweet that condemned Biles as both spoiled and childish.
Does compassion trump principle…does excellence supersede perfection, does superficial influence overpower hard earned success? These are questions that our society has yet to answer gracefully, a society with a continuously extensive shopping list of questionable priorities, and a society that is more interested in discussing answers than it is of discussing unsettling questions.
According to Mental Health UK, 1 in 5 workers in the UK suffer from mental health related problems. Shame, embarrassment, and the risk of losing a job, are potentially the main reasons for why many cases are not reported. Only time will tell how many new cases the organization will diagnose in the years to come.
Suck it up…Tough Love…Die but Do are but a few of the philosophies that are meant to remedy our feelings of genuine uneasiness in the West. Yet few people mention the consequences of muscling through and forcing your mind into submission, possibly increasing the risk of even greater mental illness.
The act of mindfulness exhibited by Simone could maybe mark the beginning of a much more engaging conversation regarding the intense pressure that competitors in all sectors face…pressures that are not made any easier by omnipresent social media algorithms.
If health is wealth and wealth is health…is mindfulness the new victory slogan?