Simone Biles is the best gymnast and we shouldn’t be saying otherwise.
On October 14th, Simon Biles won her 24th and 25th world championship medals. According to the Tampa Bay Times, Simone Biles is now the most decorated U.S. gymnast in history. As I have followed this story, on the peripheral, I have noticed that Simone has come under criticism.
Recently, she has given a few interviews, where she candidly reports that she is the best in her sport. However, the media spin and backlash have centered around the idea that her acknowledgment of her accolades has been “cocky” and she needs to be more humble.
This narrative is inaccurate and problematic for a couple of reasons.
First and Foremost, Simone Biles Is the Best Gymnast
This is not an opinion; this is a fact. She has accomplished more and won more medals than any other gymnast. She mentions this idea in the defense of some of her comments about being this best. She is not embellishing or twisting facts, she is merely reporting what her accomplishments show.
Think about it, if we are the best salesperson at a company and we state this fact based on our numbers—our proof—does that make us cocky? No. It’s a reflection of our handiwork and dedication to what we do.
Second, We Need to Acknowledge the Double Standard and Gender Disparity
Often, male athletes are applauded for their hubris and confidence.
It is seen as a necessary quality in male athletes in order to excel in their sport. Take Lebron James, for example. In a post-game interview with CBS sports, he is quoted saying “I feel confident because I’m the best player in the world. It’s simple.” The reporters follow up question was not about humility, cockiness or arrogance.
It was about the game he had just completed. We need to challenge this norm and rhetoric. The idea that female athletes that speak about their accomplishments and abilities are cocky is absurd. It sets an unfair expectation that it’s okay for men and not women.
Simone Biles is the best, regardless. There is a double standard that is evident and needs to be changed.
Finally, There Is a Stark Difference Between Being Cocky/Arrogant and Having Confidence
Confidence is a necessary belief in self and one’s abilities to achieve their goals. Simone did not get to where she is at without being confident. Cockiness and arrogance have slightly different connotations.
Cockiness and arrogance are more about using one’s accomplishments or accolades to belittle others or diminish others and/or other accomplishments. Simone’s remarks about being the best are in response to questions about her abilities, not to make herself look better or belittle others.
In fact, she is promoting self-worth and confidence as a necessary and desirable for others that admire her. Her actions and words have been inspirational and progressive rather than cocky.
Simone’s recent accomplishments are nothing short of superhuman. She deserves to have her accolades met with praise and appreciation, rather than cynicism about her being “too cocky.”
She is an example, of a superb role model for young people and a generational talent. The narrative around her should be about her accomplishments and contributions to the sport.