I woke up early yesterday morning.
Wait. Let me rephrase that.
I woke up earlier than normal yesterday morning. Over a year later, I’m still getting used to the way I’ve shifted my schedule to utilize more of the morning hours for work as opposed to burning the midnight oil. Isn’t that the term?
Anywho, that’s not what I’m here to talk about.
I woke up yesterday. excited. Although I have a strong opinion about whether or not the ‘Lympics should’ve been held this year, I’ve been all in because it’s the ‘Lympics. It’s must see tv especially when that racewalking final comes on.
Ok, let me get back on track.
After conducting my morning routine, I turned on the tv to tune into the gold medal softball game between the US and Japan. And I opened my tablet to log on to NBCOlympics.com (where you can watch all events live) to tune into the women’s gymnastics team finals.
I had settled into my comfortable little nook when I heard the announcer reference Simone Biles’ fall after her vault. Say what now? Well, that’s out of the ordinary for her, I thought. Confident she would shake off the perceived jitters, it wasn’t long before I learned that the situation surrounding Simone was one of concern.
The commentators began to report that she had left the floor with a trainer. Oh no, I said out loud. As they dissected all that went wrong during her vault, I said a little prayer.
Then the shocking news reverberated across the world.
Simone Biles was out of the team competition.
A collective whaaaaaaaaat spread across the globe.
First, it was reported her absence was due to injury. Next, it was reported it was due to her mental health. Good for you, Simone, I yelled out. Then both reasons were reported. One thing was clear, there were very few people at the time who knew for sure why Simone was now on the sidelines in a sweatsuit ready to become the biggest cheerleader in the world for her teammates.
Although I was bummed Simone wasn’t going to compete, I stay tuned in, of course, to see what Team USA was going to do. I watched Simone as she clapped, smiled and encouraged her teammates. I watched Jordan Chiles, Suni Lee and Grace McCollum as they responded to her enthusiasm. I watched a team dig deep to overcome a hurdle none of them expected to face as they fought to secure a silver medal at the ‘Lympics.
The expression on their faces told the story.
When everyone expected them to fold because the best gymnast in the world couldn’t compete, they harnessed that energy and allowed it to propel them forward straight to the medal stand.
The US had already lost the softball game and I had to get ready for a speaking event but what was lurking in the back of my mind was what was Simone going to say about why she pulled herself out of the competition.
We’d soon find out.
Simply put, mentally it wasn’t a good day for her.
And in putting the integrity of the team and herself first, she exited the field confident she had made the right decision.
After reading her statements, I went to Twitter to see what the chatter was about regarding what she shared. Somewhat surprisingly, much of what I encountered was support for Simone from people encompassing various walks of life.
But I knew it was out there.
I knew it was coming.
I knew someone somewhere was readying their hand phalanges to set off on a tirade about how Simone quit on her team, how she used her mental health as an excuse and how if she was a true champion she would’ve sucked it up and pushed through.
I know you who is sitting at home ain’t, yes ain’t, questioning the mental toughness of a woman who has endured sexual abuse at the hands of a man and organization that was supposed to protect her. I know you who is sitting at home ain’t, yes I said ain’t again, questioning the mental fortitude of a woman who has endured the governing body changing the rules of competition so it’ll be fair for others. I know you who is sitting at home ain’t, yeah ain’t again, questioning the mental toughness of a woman who has been an elite athlete since the age of 14. What were you doing at 14? Going to high school, eating square pizza and not being elite, probably. I’d bet money on it.
I know you who is sitting at home ain’t, yeah I ain’t done, questioning the mental fortitude of a woman who has been scrutinized for her body composition. I know you who is sitting at home ain’t, tell me you really ain’t, questioning the mental toughness of a woman who is a six-time Olympic medalist, winner of 25 World Championship medals and has four skills named after her in artistic gymnastics. Lastly, I know you ain’t, ain’t ain’t ain’t ain’t, questioning the mental intrepidity of a black woman, who like many – past and present – have put this country on their backs to carry it over the finish line while the powers that be continue to move the line because we’re too good at what we do.
I. KNOW. YOU. AIN’T.
Before I went to bed last night, I had all kinds of thoughts swirling in my head to drive home the point that Simone Arianne Biles didn’t quit on anybody yesterday. What Simone did was chose not to sacrifice her well-being for others. And ya’ll want to label that quitting? Probably because you don’t have the mental toughness or fortitude to do what she did. In your everyday life. At home. Where you aren’t an elite athlete.
Simone, the Greatest of All Time (arguably across all sports) owes you nothing.
And neither do I.
The fact that you can’t wrap your mind around the fact that she would withdraw from competition because of her mental health rather than run, jump and flip for your entertainment tells us everything we need to know about you and your own mental health. Anyone who “in their mind” would be willing to still sacrifice their physical, emotional, spiritual and mental health in hopes of landing properly after flying through the air despite there being a very high risk of catastrophic injury or death needs to withdraw their hand phalanges and self from Simone’s Internet and conduct some self evaluation.
You have plenty of time to do so.
It’s not like you’re an elite athlete or anything.