A few days ago, as everyone on social media knows, the American gymnast Simone Biles, a truly spectacular athlete, removed herself from her team at the Olympics because she could no longer trust her sense of her body as it must spin and somersault in the air and plunge to the floor. Divers have been known to break their necks or bruise their brains lethally, hitting their heads against the diving board, so Miss Biles’ yips are not to be taken lightly.
I watched with my own eyes, back in 2000, when the rising star pitcher for the Cardinals, Rick Ankiel, suddenly, in a playoff game against the Braves, began to hurl the ball to the backstop, having lost control of his arm. I said to my wife as soon as I saw it, “His career may be over.” His career as a pitcher indeed was over, just like that. Years later, Ankiel came back as an outfielder whose arm you had better not challenge. But he was not the star he might have been.
So, I no more would demand that Simone Biles spin through the air with the yips than I would demand that a running back continue to play with a concussion.