|Jade Carey's gold medal was also mentioned in the news|
Anyhoo, I was going to post on the problem with elevating having to step aside and quit as the true hero, versus merely being sympathetic and supportive for the same. That it's the one who overcomes, even if they don't win, that is the hero. The other is simply a brother or sister who needs our support and understanding.
Well, Ms. Biles came back either despite or perhaps because she overcame it or something, and competed on the one remaining competition she was willing to do and won the bronze medal. I know this because this was leading headline news on the morning news shows. She is the winner, the GOAT (that means greatest of all time - having tied for the most medals for an American female gymnast). She overcame, she achieved, she won. Oh, and some other girls won gold medals and things.
At the end of the day, this has just been the press keeping the narrative alive. Going into the 2021 Olympics, the dominant narrative - beyond which American athletes or teams would take the opportunity of medaling to piss on the American flag - was that Simone Biles would be expected to walk on water and feed the multitudes upon arriving in Tokyo. I was vaguely aware that some other people calling themselves athletes were expected to be in Tokyo during this time - aside from the US Women's Soccer team of course - but it was Simone who was going to stroll in and bring home the bucket of gold.
Well, that didn't happen. I can't say what's in Ms. Bile's mind. Granted, she is good. Very, very good. I know she was warming up to the attention going into the Olympics. I also know she bombed in her preliminary qualifying events. I mean, bombed. If you told me she was a first year Olympian with no experience on the world stage, I would have believed you. How much was simply losing that all important focus that separates the champs from the 'who?' athletes, I don't know.
I just know the narrative didn't play out the way the American press - and, quite frankly, the American gymnastics industry - had hoped. She was hopefully going to be the next Michael Phelps, or Usain Bolt, or anything they can cash in with and boost ratings.
In this case, they found a clever way to cash in and boost ratings anyway, even with someone who underperformed. It being 2021, her stepping aside and citing - initually - mental health issues pushed her to near martyrdom levels. Oh sure, some others got some gold, and those who excelled got their time in the sun - but always under the shadow of Simone, where almost every lead in story this year began with Simone, Simone, Simone.
|I sometimes think we now fear heroics|
I think sometimes this is how the press operates. I have no idea what was in Simone Biles' head. Was she remembering previous media darlings who crashed and burned and became forgotten also-rans? Was she thinking of competitors like Debi Thomas from the '88 Olympics? Did her less than stellar performance send shivers that she might end up the same way, and she found a way out in our day when 'mental health issues' is everyone's go to Get Out of Jail Free card? No clue.
Does this mean we should condemn those who give in, or have to quit, or succumb to the pressures of the world? Of course not. Everyone has their breaking point, no matter how it gets there. I'm all for saying we shouldn't spit on her or anyone who needs help. If you break under pressure or have other issues, we're here to help, support and lift up. But that's different from saying you're the real champ for having to bow out. Though such an attitude is expected in our day and age, there's something there that grates on me.
I dunno. I just know the press turned on a dime and did something it's been able to do more and more in recent decades, and about stories beyond just the Olympics. It built up Simone Biles as the next great contributor to the human story, only to watch her underperform. Then it took her explanation as gospel truth, and spun everything we've ever come to expect about heroism, champions, and the bravery of overcoming and turned it upside down. So much so, that people began questioning past heroism and wondering, however subtly, if it should be those who can't who become the real heroes, and those who overcome who open themselves up to scrutiny.