The kind of strength we need

Simone Biles dropped out of the Olympics. The terrible, awful, loud scumbags of the right, like Piers Morgan, spluttered in outrage.

…Piers Morgan—the former British TV host who has repeatedly mocked Meghan Markle for saying she contemplated suicide and was a victim of racism—jumped at the chance to criticize Biles.

“Are ‘mental health issues’ now the go-to excuse for any poor performance in elite sport? What a joke,” he tweeted. “Just admit you did badly, made mistakes, and will strive to do better next time. Kids need strong role models not this nonsense.”

Or we could go to Charlie Kirk:

You’re representing your nation, you selfish sociopath, the 27-year-old community college dropout huffed. You know who has the gold medal? Russia! I have to look at the 4’11” Olympians chewing on their gold medals smirking at the Americans. I’m not okay with that!

Oh, we can’t let the Russians win! The Russians wouldn’t let such nonsense hamper their competitive drive. Remember Elena Mukhina?

Elena Vyacheslavovna Mukhina (Russian: Елена Вячеславовна Мухина; first name sometimes rendered “Yelena”, last name sometimes rendered “Muchina”; June 1, 1960 – December 22, 2006) was a Soviet gymnast who won the all-around title at the 1978 World Championships in Strasbourg, France. Her career was on the rise, and she was widely touted as the next great gymnastics star until 1979, when a broken leg left her out of several competitions, and the recovery from that injury, combined with pressure to master a dangerous and difficult tumbling move (the Thomas salto) caused her to break her neck two weeks before the opening of the 1980 Summer Olympics, leaving her permanently quadriplegic.

Americans aren’t any better. We thought Béla Károlyi was a hero for forcing Kerri Strug to compete while injured.

In the time interval between Strug’s two vaults, she asked, “Do we need this?” Károlyi [her coach] replied, “Kerri, we need you to go one more time. We need you one more time for the gold. You can do it, you better do it.” Strug thus limped slightly to the end of the runway to make her second attempt. She landed the vault briefly on both feet, almost instantly hopping onto only her good foot, saluting the judges. She then collapsed onto her knees and needed assistance off the landing platform, to which sportscaster John Tesh commented, “Kerri Strug is hurt! She is hurt badly.” The completed vault received a score of 9.712, mathematically guaranteeing the Americans the gold medal, though while it was not known at the time with Roza Galieva of Russia having not yet completed her floor routine, the Americans would still have won the gold by a margin of 0.309 points had Strug not performed a second vault. Károlyi carried her onto the medals podium to join her team, after which she was treated at a hospital for a third-degree lateral sprain and tendon damage. Due to her injury, she was unable to compete in the individual all-around competition and event finals, despite having qualified for both; so Moceanu was chosen to take her place in the all-around, Dawes took her place in the floor final, and Miller took her place in the vault final.

The Olympics has a history of valorizing suffering in the name of national honor, and of granting bullying, authoritarian coaches power over young women, as if that is a good and normal thing to do. Meanwhile, her former coach, Larry Nassar, is in the news for failing to pay the restitution and penalties he owes.

Nassar has been accused of sexual abuse by more than 330 girls and women — including Olympians Biles, Aly Raisman and McKayla Maroney.

The internal review of the FBI’s handling of the initial allegations against Nassar was launched in 2018, shortly after Nassar was sentenced to a 60-year term for possessing and receiving child pornography, and a state court sentence of 40 to 175 years for assaulting girls.

It’s telling that the right-wing gasbags are the ones whining about a young woman exercising her autonomy. It’s what they do.

You go, Simone Biles. Standing up to the authoritarian right shows how strong you are.


  1. raven says

    I doubt if Morgan and Kirk can do anything more complicated than walk down the sidewalk without help.
    They would be the last ones with anything worthwhile to say about an elite athlete like Simone Biles.

    Then again, Morgan and Kirk are the last ones with anything worthwhile to say about any subject.

  2. ANB says

    Larry Nassar was the team doctor, not the coach. Someone had to make that trivial correction.

  3. garnetstar says

    An instance of fleas who will never be excellent or accomplish anything trying to suck some of that from a great athlete.

    Since they know nothing about how difficult and dangerous it is to accomplish what gymnasts do, Biles was choosing to safeguard her life. The danger of the skills she performs are almost unbelievable to those who don’t know. Gymnasts have said that the vault she did was ‘terrifying”, and that anyone other than such a superb athlete may well have been paralyzed, or at least blown out a knee. Only Bile’s exceptional athletic talent allowed her to save it.

    in 2019, a collegiate gymnast had such a fall and died of her severe spinal injury. A while back, a 15-year-old had the same problem Biles did (losing her knowledge of where she was in the air during a release move), and was paralyzed from the chest down. Biles might well have been killed in front of our eyes on live international TV if she’d continued.

    It’s not a “mistake”, it’s a sudden loss of proprioception, well known to gymnasts and divers. They compared it to speeding down a highway, and suddenly losing the ingrained memory of how to drive a car. Your brain tries to think it out, but it wasn’t in your brain, it was in your muscle memory, which has suddenly disconnected.

    I noticed, in the movie “Athlete A”, that while the vicious Bela Karolyi was carrying Kerri Strug in victory, and everyone was ecstatically cheering the win, Strug herself didn’t so much as smile. Gymnastics has for decades been child abuse, and he was the main driver. Biles is only a more admirable athlete in her decision.

  4. Akira MacKenzie says

    “You know who has the gold medal? Russia! I have to look at the 4’11” Olympians chewing on their gold medals smirking at the Americans. I’m not okay with that!”

    Wait, I though Charlie and his Jeez-us creep friends now loved Putin’s Russia, a model of Christian, tough-on-crime*, capitalist governance for the entire world. Wouldn’t they be happy that a country that is “right with God” defeat the supposedly decadent, secular, liberal that America has become?

    *Crime being defined as anyone who dares criticize Czar Vlad.

  5. drew says

    Charlie Kirk doesn’t seem to understand what a sociopath is. I wonder if he’s been called that and knows it’s some kind of bad thing to say about someone.

  6. Akira MacKenzie says

    @ 7

    I assume Kirk has sort-of heard the diagnostic criteria for a sociopath (i.e. “lack of empathy”) and attributes anti-social tendencies to putting your mental health first over the collective desire of jingoistic sports fans to see you compete.

  7. Artor says

    Biles has already transformed her sport by doing things no other human on the planet has ever even attempted. She has cemented her place as the greatest gymnast of all time, and will likely retain that title for years or decades to come. She owes nobody a goddamn thing, and the people attempting to criticize her are amusing in their pathetic lack of any remotely comparable accomplishments.

  8. says

    Morgan seems to have problems with black women. He’s gone after Meghan Markle multiple times, and went after Naomi Osaka when she pulled out of a tournament for mental health reasons.

  9. billseymour says

    Yeah, at present, Simone Biles is one of my heros.

    She’s right there in the stands supporting her teammates, and she knows that there’s nothing she needs to be ashamed about.

    And note the way her whole face lights up when one of her teammates completes a difficult move.  She did what she did not only for herself, but also for the team.

    And it’s cool to see her teammates supporting her.

    Akira MacKenzie @8:  yeah, one of the things that these folks are really good at is projection.

  10. Grace says


    Morgan seems to have problems with black women. He’s gone after Meghan Markle multiple times, and went after Naomi Osaka when she pulled out of a tournament for mental health reasons.

    Yes, in addition to the time he completely missed the point with Janet Mock and threw a tantrum when she called him on it.


  11. Ishikiri says

    Piers Morgan said something. And in more important news, a man farted on his way to work in Des Moines.

  12. robro says

    Wonder if Kirk knows that the “Russian” team is not participating as the Russian team per se. Russia was banned from the 2020 Olympics due to a decision by the World Anti-Doping Agency. The Russian team is performing as the Russian Olympic Committee team with their “country” shown as ROC.

    Anyway, saw a meme this morning that read: “Today is a great day to hear middle aged men complain about two things they know best: mental health and gymnastics.” Amen.

  13. davidc1 says

    morgan is a first rate turd ,I wish he would take a long walk off a short plank .

  14. slithey tove (twas brillig (stevem)) says

    re @8:
    joining in:
    Biles withdrawing from the competition was actually an act of empathy.
    She saw she was on the verge of making a colossal blunder, and knowing such a low score would ruin the teams chances of achieving a medal, she decided to let her substitute take her place to keep the team in contention. She then took the role of cheerleader rather than isolating herself.
    This act of self-sacrifice, valuing the team more than herself, keeps her as the G.O.A.T,

  15. IX-103, the ■■■■ing idiot says

    I can’t believe those pundits. “It’s not a health issue”. “She is physically fine”. Mental health is health.

    If she thinks she is not up for the competition, then that should be good enough.

  16. marner says

    @ #4 garnetstar

    Biles is only a more admirable athlete in her decision.

    First, excellent comments. And I very much agree with this part of it. I have a colleague who was a competitive gymnast up until she severely damaged her shoulder while attempting a routine with the twisties. She wishes that she’d had Biles example that it was ok to drop out.

  17. unclefrogy says

    I am not much of a sports fan generally but this really helps me understand what that is all about.
    It is not sport or athleticism or athletic accomplishment . It is sport fans and all the bullshit judgment that goes with it that turns me completely off, the criticism of the none winner that is inherent I find repellent.
    makes me want to choke those f’n idiots. I thought it was supposed to be fun but the entitled ownership of the f’n fans is degrading to all the participants. great move by Biles reclaiming and asserting her autonomy and dignity

  18. kaleberg says

    These are the people who booed Lou Gehrig when he announced his retirement at Yankee Stadium. Back then, no one heard them. Now they get right wing media jobs.

  19. says

    You know, I would pay good money to watch Simone Biles place Piers Morgan’s head in the crook of her elbow, and with one simple flex of her muscles, pop his miserable skull like an overripe casaba melon.

  20. Ridana says

    Is this the same Piers Morgan who had a temper tantrum and quit his job in the middle of a broadcast, stomping off in a huff? He’s not even an American, so why does he even care? Shouldn’t he be cheering for the UK?