Be aware of Biles’ struggle; It’s hers

The following words, put together and spoken by Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of this nation, might be my all-time favorite.

“It’s not the critic that counts; not the man who shows how the strongman stumbles, or where the perpetrator could have done them better. The credit goes to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marked by dust, sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who is wrong, who fails again and again, for there is no effort without error and without failure; but who really strives to do the deeds; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a good cause; who at best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails, at least fails by daring greatly, so that his place is never with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. “

I remembered them instinctively when I learned that Simone Biles, the most accomplished gymnast of all time, had retired from team competition at the Summer Olympics, citing mental health issues. Unsurprisingly, the world’s reaction has run the gamut, with critics saying she has left her team and our country and supporters applauding the move, calling it courageous and saying it highlights previously unclear issues in this sport.

I had a few thoughts that remain as others evolve: I hope Biles will be alright and not forever regret her decision to step aside from an event she had sacrificed so much for in order to compete. Selfishly, I was disappointed not to see her athleticism and artistry, even though she later returned to win a bronze on beam.

I also know that if Aaron Rogers had decided moments before the kick-off of a Super Bowl that he couldn’t play for the sake of his sanity, the reaction would have been lopsided and scathing, not mixed. But it is up to others, not Biles.

The mind is a powerful yet fragile creation, and it does not need to be confused when competing in any sport, especially one as dangerous as gymnastics.

About a month ago I was playing in a golf tournament, standing on tee # 10, 4 iron in hand, the distance, 185 yards, just right, and a gentle breeze on my left shoulder. I just knew I was going to hit a quality shot and did it, about 3 feet away. But that swing only came five holes after facing a much easier shot on No.5, a shot I didn’t feel comfortable with, and the result was the ugliest shot in golf. , a cold rod.

The only thing hurt by this cold rod was my pride. Biles’ risk was very different, an injury that could have been life changing or even fatal. For her, competing when her mind was at odds with itself would have been reckless.

I therefore invite you to reread the wise words of Roosevelt.

This is the reason I try to stay measured when I feel stranded by an athlete, especially an amateur, even if he’s dressed in sky blue and white and a missed free throw means a loss to Duke. or an abandoned pass means loss to NC State.

I accept that the athlete’s investment is substantial – time, sacrifice, sweat, effort, even pain – while mine is modest, maybe a ticket, a few hours, chicken wings and a few cold ones. Their disappointment, therefore, will be greater because of this investment. My suffering will be a rib of good humor most likely delivered by text.

I don’t know if Biles’ decision represents a failure on his part or a triumph. But I know anything, it’s hers, not mine, because she’s the perpetrator and I won’t be the critic standing outside the arena. The surest way to avoid criticism is to sit in the stands.

Seeing Biles compete in the tag team competition while helping Team USA win a gold medal, then stepping onto the podium as the national anthem blared would have been a mind-blowing and unifying moment for all of this country.

But what is really golden is a healthy mind. Like you and me, Biles deserves this.

About Christian M.

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