Making a Decision

Simon Biles decided to not compete in the vault and uneven bars apparatus finals, putting the sports world into a frivolous state of deciding whether what she did was right or wrong. The reaction immediately boxed her decision into two avenues, which seemingly simplified an incredibly complex situation that goes far beyond most people.

Simon Biles is regarded as the greatest gymnast of all time. This puts her in an exclusive bracket of athletes. Being a professional athlete already separates them from the general public, but being the greatest within one’s respective field calls for more extreme seclusion. This is an important aspect to understand about Simon’s life. She is in a mental place that faces situations and pressures only a handful of athletes have experienced, which separates her decisions from the rest of the world.

A quick crash course in particulars vs. universals:

Something universal is an object or idea that describes common features, relationships or even principles between that respective object or idea. For example, the idea of “green” is universal. We can mention the grass or a leaf and find the common quality of green among these two objects. We can derive an idea of green without referring to something specific, or better yet, particular.

Something particular is an object or idea that relates to one specific thing. It is not found in other objects or ideas, but rather it is unique. For example, a fork, a book, a specific blade of grass.

It is important to note that particular objects or ideas can be described in universal terms, but that does not make them universal.

Now, why is this all relevant to Simon Biles? Biles is a person who immediately demands the respect of not grouping her into universal categories that dehumanize and subject her to mere logic. We are not deciding which china will look better on our dinner tables, but rather we are discussing the state of a human being who is conscious of her decisions and how she is perceived.

The decision Simon Biles was faced with was one that was so particular to her that it is laughable to think any pundit or critic could offer an opinion on whether it was right or wrong. How would anyone be able to understand the situation she faced? The only people that can begin to even comprehend her particular situation are only a handful of people in the world. The greatest athlete from each sport can begin to relate to her, but even then, her sport is different from the other G.O.A.T.’s. The Olympics is debatably the highest competition in all of athletics. It is most certainly the highest level for gymnasts.

To simplify her decision into why it was right or wrong of her to choose to compete misses the most important and courageous act Simon Biles faced. The act of choosing between competing and not competing must have been incredibly difficult. A choice so particular only she could make it. Anyone who is not Simon can only relate to this situation through universal ideas. That which is particular to her, and necessarily essential to her, is out of reach for anyone else understand. This solitude she faces can be a dark mental place for many. We should support her in deciding what is best. Our judgment should not focus on the outcome of her decision, but that she had to decide in the first place.

Gymnastics is a high-risk sport that demands the utmost attention to mental and physical awareness. The smallest error could lead to a life-threatening injury. It goes without saying, if she did not feel comfortable mentally to take on this responsibility, then only she can make that call. Our duty as supporters of any type of sport is to respect this decision. We have no say in whether it was right or wrong. Our opinions only flood the overwhelming pool of nonsense that many athletes must face every day.


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