I Blame the Media


We’ve seen this movie before. Media hypes up gymnast right in front of Olympics and the egg cracks. Today it was Simone Biles.

Featured image by diema from Pixabay

Today the news is all a tither about Simone having to bail. Physically fine, mentally not okay.

If you are of a certain age, you remember a pretty young blonde girl the media hyped relentlessly. Doing a big spread with her by the balance beam because she was the world’s best on it or something like that. She was the new hope after Mary Lou Retton got out of competition.

Honestly I don’t remember her name. I remember the big video spread the media did on her. Proper lighting, all staged, designed to showcase. Sure kid, no pressure.

The balance beam was supposed to be hers and hers alone. All the commentators hyped it. Right out of the gate she fell.

Guess what?

The very next day a rather hastily put together looking video spread on one of the other girls on the team was splashed all over the broadcast.

Some years later there was another Olympics or World Games or whatever. This girl and Mary Lou Retton were invited to be with the girls gymnastics team on the floor. All of the girls flocked around Mary Lou for advice and praise. They seemed to shun this girl. The scene sticks with me because I remember the tragic hurt look on her face and the quote she gave when the microphone and camera were shoved in her face.

I don’t want to be remember as the girl who fell.

I feel bad not remembering her name

She’s probably glad I forgot it. The Internet certainly seems to have mostly forgotten it. Hey, I can understand. You were built up to be perfection incarnate and the pressure made you crack, or simply lose focus. You could have fallen every day in practice and the world would never have known. There on a world stage and in front of global media, you fell on the event you were supposed to own.

My abject apologies if I have the wrong video here. I seem to remember a much younger girl. The comments by the commentators in this video seem to match the story I remember though.

I think this was the girl and thing I remember

Now to Simone Biles

So, we have a big video spread at the start of the Olympics and they actually have Simone Biles with a Goat. The interviewer asks her

Can you be beaten?

Yeah, no pressure kid. We’ll just put this ear worm in your mind that you can be beaten right in front of the Olympics and expect you to ride it out. The media did something similar with the other girl. It rattled her.

People make claims to know what will rattle you. They claim to have fool proof methods of installing fear. Fellow author Gregory Lamb has written about fear on this very blog. Fear comes from within. The cruelest fear does anyway. That’s the fear you can’t get away from. One word can set it off. You can hide it from many, but when your confidence is shattered, it shows.

I don’t wish to shame or humiliate the girl in the above video, but I do hope some of you watched it. When your confidence gets shattered and you try to power you way through, this is what happens.

Simone Biles is an astounding athlete. I’ve yet to watch the event, but all I’ve read said she managed to gracefully bail out of difficult moves without splashing herself on the mat. Then she bailed out of the team event hoping someone could step up. Rattled is rattled boys and girls. How it happened doesn’t matter at this point. That’s a conversation to be had before the next Olympics. A conversation about reigning in the media and the marketing.

At this point the most important question is can

Yes, can she get her confidence back? Can she continue in the sport? Can “The GoAT” go out on a high note?

That’s the question now. Can.

A possibly more important question is “Can the girl (woman now) from the video reach out to Simone?” If I’m remembering the wrong girl can the girl (woman now) I remember actually reach out to her?

I’ve been down here before and I know the way out

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