Some articles about Olympic gold medalist Simone Biles from 2019 recently resurfaced. The articles talk about the signature moves that the 22-year-old gymnast created and perfected. In order for a move to be named after a gymnast, they must submit it for consideration and then successfully execute it at a major competition such as a world championship or the Olympics.
Biles has not one, not two, but FOUR moves named after her: one on vault, one on balance beam and two in floor exercise. To someone like myself who never even perfected a back-flip, these skills look pretty dang near impossible.
You may be wondering to yourself, “OK, Ashlee, why are you telling us about gymnastics? Where is the column we’ve grown to know and love?” It’s coming — I’ve got to set the scene! And yes, this is old news — but I wanted to address it anyway.
After a move is named after an athlete, it has to be assigned a score by the Federation of International Gymnastics (FIG). The scoring system uses letter grades to assign difficulty and points to moves based on the letter it is. An A is work 1/10th of a point. Each letter after A adds another 1/10th to the score. Folks in the gymnastics world expected Biles’ moves to receive no less than an I rating due to the difficulty, with many expecting it to receive a J. But the federation assigned it an H.
People in the world of gymnastics didn’t understand why the skills would be ranked so low. One article I read mentioned that FIG may have been assigning low difficulty so that fewer gymnasts would attempt the move. The federation felt that a higher score would encourage lesser athletes to attempt a beam dismount with two flips and two twists, putting those athletes at risk for injury.
Did they REALLY discount the worth of Biles’ tenacity and determination to be the best in her sport? Just because someone CAN’T do something doesn’t mean that those that CAN should be punished!
The amount of skill, determination and overall dedication that Biles must have put into perfecting the move enough to not only attempt it at a major competition, but to NAIL IT at a competition is on a level that many of us don’t meet.
Many of us are content to coast through life, without cultivating ourselves into becoming better employees or better people. How many people have the opportunity to go back to school and could get a better job if they did? But they won’t.
There are people who are qualified for a new job making a ton more money than they currently do…but fear and complacency keep them in one place.
Not Simone Biles.
I can’t imagine the number of times she fell, the number of times she stumbled, and probably even injured herself while attempting to get these moves to a place that she felt comfortable showing anyone besides her coach.
But sure… let’s protect all the other athletes who might not have the same skill but might try to perform this move. Let’s lessen Simone Biles’ skills to be on par with the other athletes.
Why aren’t we holding her up as the standard to strive for?
Why wouldn’t we encourage the other athletes to work harder to be as good or better than her?
Why are we settling for mediocrity?
Imagine that this was a football team. Would you ask the fastest receiver or running back on the team to run slower so that it gave his teammates a better chance at starting in the game? No.
Do you think anybody ever asked Usain Bolt to slow down so there wasn’t such a gap between him and second place? Highly doubt it.
I know the examples I used are male-centric sports and I don’t mean to imply that gender plays a role here. But it definitely could be something that might factor in. Men in sports are always pushed to be bigger, stronger, faster. Women in sports are expected to be good but also to keep some femininity.
Let’s face it though — women in sports are tough as nails. Think about Kerri Strug and that vault to clinch the gold with a severely sprained ankle. She might not have performed a fancy new move that was named after her, but she basically gave mediocrity the finger.
I don’t know about you, but I’m tired of settling for mediocre. Be the best whatever you are. I don’t care if you’re the president of a bank or a garbage man or a ditch digger... do it to the best of your ability! If there’s someone better than you — try to emulate and learn from them.
In my research into the Simone Biles scoring, I didn’t see anything about an appeal, so I’m not sure if that’s possible for her. Just because Biles is stuck with a score that isn’t fair, it doesn’t mean that you have to settle for anything less than what you deserve.
What I’m trying to say is this: Don’t settle for an H when you deserve a J.