Members in the Media
From: The New York Times

Simone Biles Rejects a Long Tradition of Stoicism in Sports

Ten years ago, or even five, an athlete of Simone Biles’s stature might have been reluctant to admit that she struggled with pressure, much less to have withdrawn in the middle of an Olympic competition.

“People might have labeled an athlete mentally weak,” Hillary Cauthen, a clinical sports psychologist in Austin, Texas, said on Tuesday, hours after Biles, the greatest gymnast in history, had bowed out of the women’s team event at the Tokyo Games, and one day before she said she would also skip the all-around individual competition.

But a shift in cultural acceptance began to take place in 2015-16, when the N.C.A.A. created a mental health initiative, Cauthen said. Just before the 2016 Summer Games in Rio de Janeiro, Michael Phelps, the most decorated Olympian ever, began to discuss wrestling with depression and suicidal thoughts. Since then, the N.B.A. players DeMar DeRozan and Kevin Love and the figure skater Gracie Gold, among other athletes, have gone public to say they grapple with anxiety and depression.

Though sports psychologists say a stigma persists about athletes and mental health, and Biles was surely disappointed not to have lived up to enormous Olympic expectations, she was also widely embraced as the latest active, elite athlete who had the courage to acknowledge her vulnerability.

Read the whole story: The New York Times

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Despite the high caliber of athletes that our country produces, the average person is not as healthy as those in other nations. This is because the potential of the average citizen is not respected. My physical education classes were dreadful with those of greater athletic potential being embraced by teachers and coaches. If they were lucky, those of higher athletic performance would go to the universities and, if they were really good, would go to the pros or compete as an amateur athlete. Sadly,l there is a divorce between the spectator and athlete. The spectator does not know the exploitation that athletes endure. Too many pro football players have had head concussions and injuries that destroy the balance of their lives. Olympic athletes can be oppressed by coaches and athletic organizations. The scandal with women gymnasts occurred with gymnastic organizations being slow to respond. And athletes are humans like the rest of us. They can have mental health problems like anyone else. Athletes should be able to address their exploitation and harassment and not be divorced from spectators. In fact, athletes should inspire the average person to maximize his or her potential. Other nations are catching up to the United States, as seen by other nations winning Gold Medals in this Olympics. To address this, we must build a foundation of athletes by addressing the average citizen who may show surprising promise. The greater the coaching of individuals, the greater the chance of drawing individuals who can perform well. And we must always applaud the efforts of those who train and aspire, whatever their level of performance.

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