Perhaps it’s only natural in today’s polarized world to witness a gymnast who decided to stop competing igniting massive controversy across the political spectrum. Though, to be fair, the gymnast happens to be Simone Biles, one of the greatest in the history of the sport, and the competition she decided to quit was the Olympics.
On one side of the debate are her defenders, who argue that she showed great courage in stepping down and working on her “mindfulness.” Like the tennis champion Naomi Osaka quitting the French Open for vague mental health reasons, Biles’ quitting highlighted the great need for high-profile athletes to sometimes take a step back and adopt mentally healthy habits.
Some have gone so far as to equate her action to Civil Rights icon Rosa Parks refusing to move to the back of the bus. As Candace Buckner writes in The Washington Post, “A different kind of pressure follows Black women who achieve in traditionally White spaces. If they’ve had a realist for a mother, since childhood they’ve heard the refrain they’ve got to work twice as hard to get half as much. And if they spent two seconds in America, then they know that mama was right.”