Everyone and their brother has an opinion about our Olympic darling after she withdrew from the competition this week to focus on her mental health.
You’ve got one camp, who is praising her as a “Mental Health Hero,” claiming that her withdrawal from the Olympics is her greatest accomplishment yet. Everyone from Michael Phelps, to Justin Bieber, to Rory McIlroy have all voiced their support for Biles, relating to that degree of rarely-experienced global pressure. USA Today’s headline reads: “Simone Biles is a Role Model for Prioritizing Her Mental Health Over an Olympic Medal.”
Then, of course, you have the other camp, claiming that Biles “abandoned” her team in the moment of truth. That she knew what she was getting herself into, and it was irresponsible and inconsiderate to occupy one of only four highly coveted spots on the Olympic Gymnastics team, only to relinquish her responsibility to follow through on her commitment to her team, and her country. Matt Walsh said in his podcast that she was “an appropriate representation of a country that has gone soft.” While Piers Morgan tweeted that “Kids need strong role models not this nonsense.”
And if you’re looking for me to slam my gavel one way or the other, you’re just not going to get that from me. Because here’s the thing…I am exceptionally unqualified to do so…
The thing about mental health, is that no one can really no what is going on, inside. Especially from the perspective of fan – to – cultural icon, we know only what is presented to us from a highly regulated media machine. (Hello, Britney Spears and the #FreeBritney movement). But we just don’t know. Was it related to her sexual assault from her former coach? Was it another mental health issue? Was it simply related to the fact that the entire country had made her a diety status? Or, as some critics question, did she just choke?
I mean, Simone Biles was the face of the Tokyo Olympics. She was shouldering America’s hope, and after the year we’ve had, we all needed some hope.
And she was expected to win. Not just once, but win it all. A four-time Olympic champion, she walked into Tokyo being called the “Greatest Gymnast of All Time,” attempting and executing stunts and skills that had never before been done. She was BET’s Sportswoman of the Year in 2020, and is nominated for Best Female Athlete at the upcoming 2021 ESPY’s. She’s got sponsorships and brand deals worth millions. Biles was the “It Girl.” The “Sure Bet.” And she walked into that arena — alone, by the way — without her parents or anyone to support her, via the new COVID rules — and was expected to dominate the competition by a long shot.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never faced that type of pressure.
Regardless of how you feel about the outcome of it all, one thing that is glaringly obvious to me, is how willing society is to elevate these athletes or celebrities or movie stars to living idols. We’re making them gods, and tracking and watching and worshipping their every move — through social media, through the news, through tabloids. It’s not good. It’s not good at all. We put them on cereal boxes, we buy products they tell us to purchase, they speak out on social issues and influence the viewpoints and beliefs of younger generations.
We’re worshipping at their altar, which is a dangerous thing indeed.
Because none of us are God. We’re human. We fall short. And Simone Biles, god-status though she was, proved that….she was human. Which, she’s allowed to be.
Just like everyone else we’ve placed at diety-status .
Simone Biles, Justin Bieber, Lebron James, Adele…we have such rabid adoration for these idols because we’re in desperate need of heroes. We’re in dire need of someone or something to root for. We need good in the world. We need someone to place our hope in, especially living in the political and social tinderbox we find ourselves in.
We’re hungry for an example of someone who will rise above the odds, defeat the enemy, and save our day.
So it’s no wonder, that when our heroine of the day fails to do so, that people can’t help but talk, talk, talk and run their mouth in all directions.
One thing’s for sure – and this is coming from someone who was looking for saving in all the wrong places…the only hero that will never let us down is Christ, who has already won, and who is worthy of our hope and our trust.
I found that out at the basement of rock bottom, from a cot at the nurses’ station of an inpatient treatment facility.
He will never let us down.
But you already knew that.
Simone, God bless you, girl. I’m praying for you and I hope that you find the peace you’re looking for, and that you can drown out all the noise and clamoring opinions from those who placed you on a throne you never asked for.
“This is what the Lord says to these bones: I will make breath enter you, and you will come to life.” Ez 37:5
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70 responses to “Simone Biles: Our Desperate Need for Heroes”
I think its honorary that she was able to do something for herself amidst the pressure. i’m proud of her and in my unwanted opinion, everyone else who thinks she was selfish is selfish themself.
Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this! It definitely has spurred a lot of discussion! Glad you stopped by! Hugs and love xox
I believe her choice to take care of her mental health was a good one to make. That’s much more important than providing entertainment, which there will still be plenty of even if she isn’t included.
Thank you Ang, I definitely feel for her. That must have been the most difficult decision of her life. And to not have her support people there with her…unimaginable. Hugs and love xox
I’m also proud of her. Being an Olympian is stressful and being one who is plastered everywhere has got to be crazy hard. There is a young swimmer from Seward, AK who just struck gold. Her sport isn’t as in your face as a gymnast’s, but it can be. Hoping Ms Jacoby can keep the press from under her swim cap and her sights on her college goals. She can look at Simone and prayerfully avoid those press pitfalls.
Thanks Kris for sharing your thoughts on this! I can’t imagine the pressure she was under! That must have been the hardest decision of her life. Amen. Me too! Hugs and love xox
I get angry at people who call her spoiled–good gracious, if only THEY were in her spangles!
the song “idle worship” by paramore sums it up perfectly ! loved the points you made
Oh I’ll have to check it out! Thanks for the recco! Hugs and love xox
The link for the lyrics is here: https://genius.com/Paramore-idle-worship-lyrics.
Yes indeed, God bless this young lady. We, the American public, are a fickle group. Even worse, we are judgmental and selfish. When we should be God loving, compassionate, and serving (selfless). Not one person knows the mind and/or heart of our neighbor. Pause, take a breath, imagine yourself making an important decision/choice and having people (the entire world) peering over your shoulder; hum. As a highly competitive American, I want to stomp the world; however, as a Catholic we must do it with compassion. Hugs and Love 🤗 & ❤️.
God bless her indeed. I agree – we should be loving and compassionate! so true! thanks for stopping by HJ! hope you’re having a great week! big hugs to you! xoxo
You’re wise beyond your years! Thank you for giving a godly, well-rounded, unbiased perspective regarding this brave young woman (as you have been too)! Blessings to you and blessings & peace over Simone!
Thank you Kim! oh gosh, that’s kind of you to say. You’re right – she has been through a lot! Let’s give her a little grace! 🙂 big hugs to you xoxo
You are so right on to say that only Simone knows what’s going on in her own mind. Most of us have no clue what living in a celebrity fish bowl entails. Add to this an Olympics that is far from normal—no fans or family to cheer you on. It’s a wonder more athletes haven’t dropped out. In fact, aren’t there others? Simone Biles is simply the most famous athlete to choose her own well being over fading glory. Blessings to you and your special gentleman. 🙏❤️
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Thank you for the link up! Hugs and love xox
I think you meant ” know” in ” one can really no what”.
We tend to forget athletes are humans too.
As you said very aptly I am not qualified one way or the other to judge and comment on what went through her mind to take that decision.
I can only say this: Thankful that she didn’t get hurt and the decision she took does not diminish a single iota from her achievements.
we place them on a pedestal! As if they can do no wrong!
Thank you for catching that – looks like my mind was moving faster than my fingers! thanks for sharing your thoughts on this. Amen to that! Hugs and love xox
You are such a light. Thank you for sharing your perspective on this- I appreciate your humility in acknowledging that we are not able to know what is going on with a person. It’s so true. And at the end of the day, we are all human. Praying for the best for Simone.
aw, Christie, thank you so much! what kind words, i really appreciate that. Joining you in prayer! Hugs and love xox
I agree. My heart just broke for her. I know though she will rise above this challenge and continue to be the champion she is!
Thank you so much Sue – my heart broke too. Yes, for sure! Hugs and love xox
I’ve seen comments about her and her decision to pull out on Instagram that were terrible. I don’t believe that anyone has any business or right to question her decision unless they are her. Nobody is perfect except for our Lord Jesus. Period.
You’re so right about that John – no one has walked in her shoes. We should just support, and withhold our judgement! thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox
Simone is an American. Therefore she’s free.
You’re right about that, Rollie. What a blessing in that truth. Thanks for stopping by! Hugs and love xox
I love your perspective on this. And you’re so right. We aren’t inside her head, we don’t know and we shouldn’t judge.
I loved what you said about worshipping at THEIR altar, “We’re worshipping at their altar, which is a dangerous thing indeed. Because none of us are God. We’re human. We fall short. And Simone Biles, god-status though she was, proved that….she was human. Which, she’s allowed to be.”
None of us are God, we ARE human. And like you said, so is Simone. We have placed her on a pedestal and that’s not good. She’s going to make mistakes, just like we do. It’s time to put God back at front and center of our lives.
Thank you for posting this!
Hi Leigh, gosh thank you for sharing your thoughts on this! Yes! Only she knows, and therefore we should support and withhold judgement! Amen to that – time to put God back in His rightful place! Hugs and love xox
Well said! It comes down to this: Which is more important? The health and well-being of an athlete, or a medal??
Thank you so much Myron! Amen to that – we’ve got to look at the big picture here!! Hugs and love xox
Here’s a thought. Humans are imitative and go after what they see as ideals. The celeb society is a goal that many aspire to. But for most, it’s unattainable, which leads to frustration and anxiety that can lead to hatred and aggression. For some, it leads to depression and self-destructive behavior. For those who achieve fame, the pressure of expectations can also become self-destructive as they attempt to live up to their ideal of themselves. A single self-considered slip may be enough to shake self-image to the point that it becomes paralyzing. Not living up to perceived expectations can be dangerous to survival. Of course, this is an oversimplification of something complex.
Thans Steven for sharing your thoughts on this. Hugs and love xox
I’ve been staying out of this debate because I see both sides… and, more importantly, I don’t know the whole story or what it’s like to be in her shoes. Well said.
Great take. It is so true that we tend to idolize the wrong people. The one we should really look to is the author and finisher of our faith.
I don’t know anything about mental health and certainly don’t want to assess or criticize. Watching her perform that practice vault, it was clear to me she was really struggling, no matter what the reason. Gymnastics is a very precise sport and far too dangerous for someone to force themself to continue when they are that far off from their normal performance. Her health and safety are of utmost importance.
People are forgetting that she represented this country before and did so with greatness even though she was dealing with the trauma of having been one of the victims of Team USA’s physician Larry Nassar. The fact the Biles won any medal in the past is astonishing enough. People need to cut her A LOT of slack.
This was really well written and I agree! We are so hungry fo true hope, a hero- and this is found in Jesus! I’ve found it to be true!
One of the issues that few are talking about is the fact that her scores are purposely being undervalued by the IOC in order for the competition to be closer and it not be a runaway win for the US team. The problem for her is she is already performing at a level that is way beyond current Olympians and because of how HER scores are being judged, she would have to perform at superhuman levels for her to get a reasonable score. This is why the intense pressure and why it is dangerous. Some of the vaults and dis-mounts that she has perfected are in fact extremely dangerous and if she is off just a little it could be fatal. I applaud her actions. She has nothing left to prove. Great post.
So many saints to emulate. They, who gave all for Christ. Some even died, not wanting to deny their faith. St Thomas More, St Joan of Arc, St Pope John Paul 2, these are my heros.
Having backed out of a management role for mental health reasons, I sort of know how fickle mental health can be. This article was about Simone Biles but what an encouragement this was to me. Mental health is hardly discussed as important in countries like India where I am from, so this is such a healthy read for me. Yes, I would have probably been dead without Jesus. I am not where I was but I still struggle. I love your posts and you give me hope that it can all get better. Hugs
I agree with your point about celebrity culture. It isn’t good for anyone that we elevate people who are talented at something, eg.music, sports, acting, and we turn them in celebrity idols with ridiculous expectations. Then we get upset when our celebrity heroes don’t meet the expectations we foisted on them. It’s terrible for our talented athletes and performers, and it’s terrible for us as a society.
Perfectly said. It’s exactly what I have been feeling, but didn’t know how to put into words. We just don’t know what was going on, and it’s not our place to judge her.
Got to admit I don’t like Piers Morgan he’s one of the anchor’s on one of our breakfast show’s in UK. A while ago he walked off set whille on air while interviewing someone about the Prince Harry & Megan loosing privilages, the reason he walked off was he didn’t like answers he was getting.
Yes indeed! Thanks for your comments.
Michael Phelps said that he never felt like a human being, just this thing (my word) on display. He wasn’t treated as human so much as a zoo animal or museum piece to be critiqued.
Piers Morgan – I usually enjoy his articles. From his tweet and article about her this week I only got disgust!
Mental health; I know several people with mental health issues. Some very close. Have you ever heard of Austin-Riggs? It’s a world-famous mental health facility in Massachusetts. It specializes in treatment resistant mental problems. It means that the body adapts to drugs that normally help someone and become ineffective. Austin -Riggs teaches people how to deal with their problems when drugs don’t do it for them. Judy Garland, James Taylor, and a crowd of others have gone through there. I think I mentioned to you recently I know someone who went there. Mental health problems are more real and devastating than even my heart surgery! I got past my double bypass. You can’t say that about mental health problems. Even you still need to guard your recovery.
When I was at my lowest point 10 years ago, I felt I only had 2 years to live. The pressure of misfortune that had lasted years was taking its toll, and I could feel myself slowly dying. While I haven’t been in Simone’s position, I think I have a clear idea of how pressure can wear on one’s mind to the point of needing to escape somehow. Some people commit suicide. Some self-medicate with alcohol and drugs.
Some people just check out like Simone. The release of pressure is enormous, and they can function as a human being, not a cog in someone else’s machine.
Thanks for writing about this, Caralyn. I was thinking about writing an article about her for this weekend. This has been a good exercise in forming it. And your blog is a nice start to my day!
Again Well said. This was my spin on it. Only God
This is my favorite take on the situation. I have been complaining for a number of years about the borderline worship of the super stars. I know it sells, but they are pushing it too far.
Shew! I cannot imagine undergoing the incredible stress of being an Olympian…much less the stress of being a hugely SUCCESSFUL one. The pressure to be absolutely perfect is devastating when a tiny crack or flaw appears in the performance. When do you reach a breaking point? Your comments, Caralyn, are spot-on for those in the spotlight. We cannot judge another’s capacity to handle all of this. Praise God, there is NO condemnation for those in Jesus Christ! He is our perfection, covering us when we can’t achieve that!
I make no judgement I only ask two questions (1) mental adversity is not a one day event it didn’t manifest its self the morning of the event and so asking why she would take a spot that could have gone to another is a valid question. (2) Had she preformed the best of her life to date would she have dropped out then? I for one doubt it and so to each their own opinion. I simply find the media’s shaping of a narrative with out asking any questions insulting to my common sense that’s all. I wish her well still my two unanswered questions give me pause.
I don’t follow sports much at all, but the story of Biles “abandoning” her team got me interested in this one.
I’ve prepared a blog for tomorrow as a guest blog from Hannah Anderson in Christianity Today and will add a link to your blog.
Thanx for your continued pursuit of holiness and grace. ❤️&🙏, c.a.
My instincts tell me that she feels bad for her teammates who work just as hard as her but, in the eyes of the media deserve a fraction of the credit. This feeling of guilt rose up in her and stole her focus, thus explainable as “mental health” when in reality she just has a good heart, and wants the best for her gym sisters.
We need to remember, Simone is a gifted athlete, but she’s also a human being, not a machine. If she wasn’t mentally and emotionally ready, her physical gifts might let her down and she could suffer injury. Even death. Let’s offer her some grace and pray for her restoration. Great piece.
Agreed. Fix our eyes on Jesus!
I was thinking about Simone this morning, for some reason, and then your blog piece pops up in my reader.
Isn’t it strange how people who are not experiencing what she is going through feel the need to be her judge? Having struggled with mental health issues all my life, my sense is that what she needs is a hug and support, the knowledge that no matter what her decision, that people value and love her. The greatest gift I have been given in the last couple of years is my spiritual father, who is the friend and support I desperately need as I struggle with life and my own inner demons. How we all need such a good friend. I hope Simone has that person to whom she can turn.
One thing to mention is that her removal gave a golden opportunity for Sunisia Lee to have all her hard work pay off – and she made the most of it, bringing home the gold in the all around.
Thanks for your great blog this morning, thanks for reminding us that our hero is Christ, who by His immense love has given the world salvation and the opportunity to overcome our sorrows through entering into that love.
[…] team at a clinching moment, disrupting the worship services of the Japan Olympics. Caralyn, of BeautyBeyondBones, blogged on this on July 29, and presents an excellent analysis from one who has dealt with […]
Thank you for the link up! Hugs and love xox
Beautifully said. I couldn’t agree more. Hugs!
Thank you Amy!! I’m glad this resonated with you! Hugs and love xox
Totally unrelated, but have you ever taken the Meyers-Briggs personality test? I always pegged you for an ENFJ. 🙂
Really well written Caralyn! Great job. No matter how one feels about it, I agree, it is not for me to decide. We have to be careful of placing athletes or anyone for that matter on alters. If not careful, that can become idolatry besides being unfair to that person. Everyone is in need of grace and love. The same grace and love that Christ offers to all of us if we just believe and receive it.
Wonderfully expressed Caralyn. Too much is expected sometimes of these athletes. The pressure they put on themselves is immense. Simone described her mental struggle with twisties. Which BTW former successful gymnastic Olympian and silver medallist McKayla Maroney nailed on her IG. She also critiqued USOC for ignoring the serious issues with Nassar and criticized the former coach. Very interesting stuff. I just feel like mental health is so essential. It affects the physical.
“We’re hungry for an example of someone who will rise above the odds, defeat the enemy, and save our day.” SO WELL SAID! And we keep looking for that hero among mere mortals.
Keep on writing my dear!
I love your inhale Jesus exhale fear.
[…] *For another good perspective on the discussion around Simone Biles, check out this blog from “Beauty Beyond Bones”: https://beautybeyondbones.com/2021/07/29/simone-biles-our-desperate-need-for-heroes/ […]
Thank you for the link up! Hugs and love xox