Piers Morgan and others need to leave Simone Biles alone.
If you think this young lady doesn’t want to compete, you are wrong.
There isn’t a person on earth who hasn’t seen what she can do. Her practices alone could set records. There is no doubt in my mind her announcement of withdrawing from the Olympic finals is crushing for her. She has proven she is a tough competitor. So if she is mentally not in the moment, she runs the risk of physically hurting herself and mentally as well.
For me, I see a young Black woman who happens to be a star gymnast. She has become a master of her sport. As a high achiever, she continually pushes herself to extraordinary lengths. Several gymnastic elements have been named after her. Because of the complexity of these elements, gymnasts are advised not to attempt. Simone has mastered these and incorporated them into her already complex routine. So if her mind and body are not in sync, the risk of injury is highly likely.
Everyone wanted to see Biles compete in this Olympics. Wanting to be in that moment of awe, watching her flip through the air as if gravity had no hold on her. Doing those complex vaults, most female gymnasts aren’t capable of because of the difficulty. Hoping for her to “stick it” and get a perfect score.
Yes, that’s what we wanted from Simone, so hearing she wouldn’t compete brought about disappointment and scourge from people who have no concept of how high performing athletes need to be both mentally and physically in sync on the highest level.
So when Piers Morgan made the following statement: “Just admit you did badly, made mistakes, and will strive to do better next time. Kids need strong role models, not this nonsense.” He demonstrates his total ignorance on two fronts: top athletes’ mental preparedness and where kids should be getting their role models from.
A top-tier athlete such as Simone Biles, metal preparedness is essential to her overall performance. Primarily when she performs the type of routines that only someone with her skills can do. For her, both mind and body must be in sync. There is also another element athletes of her caliber require. Crowd participation. Some theories indicate crowd participation contributes to athletes’ performance as the crowd’s roar facilitates increased adrenaline flow.
While the efficacy of crowd influence is still up for debate, the fact remains, for what Simone Biles does, she has to be on her game both mentally and physically. For Morgan, to say what he said demonstrates his ignorance around athletic competition at Simone Biles level.
Then there is the other part of his comment around ‘kids need strong role models.’ While I’m reluctant to invoke Charles Barkley, but his statement, “I’m not your role model, just because I dunk a basketball doesn’t mean I should raise your kids.” Barkley put the role model responsibility where it belonged, on the parents. Piers Morgan knows that’s where it belongs.
He is also wrong when he implies athletes shouldn’t deal with the soundness of their mental health. The sound mental health of athletes on the level of Simone Biles is a critical component of their psyche and enables them to tune out all distractions and focus their energy on their performance.
What Simone Biles does isn’t just about physical ability. It requires solid mental discipline also. And if that’s not aligned, the risk of serious injury is profound.
So Piers, leave Simone alone because you don’t know what you’re talking about.