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Opt Out or Dropout? Simone Biles and the Pressure to Perform


Opt Out or Dropout? Simone Biles and the Pressure to Perform
Opt Out or Dropout? Simone Biles and the Pressure to Perform

On this episode of democracy-ish, Danielle and Toure are on polar ends of a debate about star gymnast Simone Biles. Is she the embodiment of courage, or a quitter?


  • Simone Biles, widely regarded as the greatest gymnast of all time, withdrew from competition at the Tokyo 2020 Games, citing the need to focus on her mental health.

  • Biles received an outpouring of support from former Olympians and legions of fans, including celebrities like Michelle Obama. Danielle praises Biles’ decision to put herself first despite unimaginable pressure to perform.

  • But Toure says there are plenty of folks who are critical of Biles (and he’s one of them). He thinks she “choked,” let down her team –– and herself. What’s more, he argues that those who voice their criticism are met with reproach.


“I have something burning in my soul,” says Toure. “I can’t lie … Simone Biles, the number one gymnast of all time –– the Michael Jordan, Tiger Woods, Serena Williams of gymnastics –– quit on the team and herself on the biggest stage.”


Biles’ withdrawal from the individual all-around competition at the Tokyo Games to focus on her mental well-being was the chalk-dustup heard around the world. Her decision came a day after she removed herself from the team final after one rotation –– a disappointing performance on vault.


Toure is disappointed, to say the least. He thinks life, and sports, gi