Simone Biles shocked Olympics fans when she abruptly quit during the Tokyo Olympics. This has forced a great many valuable conversations that were long overdue. Talking about it is one thing, passing judgement is another. I find myself asking why won’t everyone stop judging Simone Biles?
Some of us want to understand…
I found myself seeking to understand (as always). Simone had me pondering sports, athletes, gender dynamics, and the role of race in all of those topics as I evaluated what we know so far searching for meaning. I also searched for a life lesson or two in her experience as I continue to watch it play out. I must admit, this sequence of events has been painful to watch.
The question at the heart of each conversation, however heated it may be, remains: “Is it ever okay to quit?” Furthermore, can you quit and still be a true champion? Is Simone Biles still our champion? Is it okay to quit? The bigger question looming over head is why is everyone so upset about this and why won’t some folks stop judging Simone Biles.
I’ve gone back and forth over the past few days thinking about this very question. I have also realized that in many ways the conversations people are having about Simone Biles have been quite triggering for me.
Let’s begin with this in mind.
Many of the commentators were lobbing thinly veiled jabs from sexist, racist perspectives because Simone’s confidence and performance triggered them.
Why we just need to stop judging Simone Biles…
Let us be clear. The first reason we need to stop judging Simone Biles is that most humans will never show the Simone’s level of dedication to any craft, skill, or vocation in their entire lives. Hence, most are unqualified to ascertain her mental toughness or anything else as a gymnast or otherwise.
Secondly, most people will never know what it is to have to perform under the pressure of a world stage or any stage for that matter. So to say “Suck it up, Buttercup!” to judge her for “choking” or anything else when most have never even won a high school championship highlights the willful ignorance evident throughout society as we watch people with no understanding become overnight analysts on just about everything. This is yet another reason to stop judging Simone Biles or anyone else – the people who want to judge most are not qualified to judge others. Not really.
Thirdly, I believe the biggest issue with how this has been handled is the rush to judgement. Everyone passing judgment on Simone Biles could benefit from feeling the weight of the world on their shoulders at least once.
When I say “the weight of the world,” I don’t mean the pressure to survive. It’s easy to persevere when facing imminent doom. The mental and emotional weight responsibility to others but is not a life and death situation poses a totally different conundrum. Let’s see how many people would rush to judgment after knowing what that feels like. Maybe we could show a bit more empathy if we knew what it felt like to be in Simone’s shoes.
Be a fan, don’t be a fan. Support Simone Biles, or don’t. But stop judging people. The closed-mindedness required to do so is embarrassing. Whether you choose to take this advice or not, just remember – like begets like. Somebody is out there judging you, too.