American gymnast Simone Biles stands four-feet-eight inches tall. By stepping aside during this year’s overhyped money grab Tokyo and the IOC call the Olympic “Games,” she towers like a giant. Make no mistake what this fortnight of international competition bloated with made-up events detached from the competition designed by ancient Greeks truly is: a commercialized sellout of sports in its purest form to one in its most commercialized, dollar-extracting extreme.
Biles survived the terror of child molesting team doctor Larry Nasser, persevered through the emotional carnage he created, acceded to the endless demands of sponsors, hypemasters, and deal gracefully with endless media demands while tumbling her way through a glass house of sports and human challenges. Prior to the Olympics, her smiling face beamed from everywhere, as if Simone were a Marvel superhero and not a 24-year-old woman showcasing skills her sport has never seen. The hype was never-ending, with American media treating Simone like a maple tree that produced endless syrup with zero thought of a price to pay. When Simone decided yesterday to twist shut that tapped faucet, the world was stunned. The cyborg maple tree, it seemed, had run out of nuclear syrup.
Much like the American NCAA has been forced to mutate, the Olympics have long been the benchmark for greed, deception, and the Soylent green consumption of young athletes investing years of work pursuing dreams of fifteen minutes of fames. Few athletes parlay Olympic success into earning a sports related living once the flame is extinguished. Their lives return to anonymity, burdened with worries and problems, bills to pay, and unknown means of generating cash to pay for them — just like the rest of us.
This will be the wonderful legacy of Simons Biles. Like it or not, fame or not, money or not, Simone is just like the rest of us. With a net worth estimated at $6 million and a personal brand that will let her choose life’s next chapter, she is a bit unlike most of us financially; but money shines no light on the dark edges of life navigation. Simone gave all she had, for as long as she could, and the real celebration she has earned begins now. Simone Biles is a gift to all of us, a gift that kept on giving. As she exits stage right, the microscope will reveal the scourges of the coldblooded machine behind USA gymnastics, world gymnastics, and the money-pressured demands of the modern Olympic “Games.” Make no mistake about what the Olympics are and are not: This is a voracious money grabbing wolf, dressed in sheep’s clothing, pretending to care about ideals they have trampled to dust.
I miss the days of amateurs in the Olympics. As the money grab voraciously keeps expanding, gone are the ideals of sport, celebration, fair play, and doing your best through international goodwill.
As Simone’s final leotard-clad curtain falls, let us celebrate what a true champion looks like: an athlete gracious in victory, humble in defeat, and who teaches everyone who follows about life and humanity. What a gift this woman has given.
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