Heading into the 2020 Olympics, few athletes have greater expectations than Simone Biles. 24 year old gymnast is expected to repeat her 2016 dominance in Rio: Bringing home the home team all-round gold medals, decks and vaults, and debuting an adventurous new vault, high flying will be the second native skill. The year is named in her honor. Talk about pressure.
In the qualifiers, Biles easily took the top spot in the all-around and the vault, but in the team final she struggled to find her “sense of air” over the vault. After discussing with her coaches, she decided to withdraw from the competition to avoid the risk of injury and further errors, citing “the twenties.“She stayed in the arena for the rest of the meeting, cheering on her teammates who had step up to fill the gap. Despite the strong showing, Russia ended up taking first place, leaving the US with a silver medal.
As anyone who has scrolled a social media feed in the last 48 hours knows, Biles’ decision to withdraw because of mental concentration problems became a lightning rod of discussion. While receiving a lot of support and sympathy, some commenters criticized her for seemingly abandoning her teammates and caving under pressure. One tweeted a fictitious headline about Michael Jordan’s withdrawal from the NBA Finals due to mental health issues, implying that a true champion would skip it.
These observations all stem from a larger mentality that sociologists Robert Hughes and Jay Coakley call “sports ethics,“Saying that elite athletes should dedicate their lives to their sport and perform despite pain, injury and any other obstacles in their way. Like a former NCAA gymnast, I wore my wounds as a badge of honor. I learned first-hand how a mistake on the vault can have major consequences, tearing all four cruciate ligaments in my knee in my middle school year on a vault. But Biles violated this “sports ethic” by withdrawing without a visible debilitating injury, à la Kerri Strug of the 1996 Olympics.
Just as athletes like Biles are expected to live by sports ethics, workers have similar expectations of pornographic and rough culture, which assumes that the best employees give their best. their organization and do whatever it takes to get the job done. And both of these mentalities have problems.
Imagine you have a star specialist at your company — an engineer delivering code ahead of time, a salesperson hitting big deals every quarter, a content marketer who goes viral. Their innovations have changed the industry and their success has carried the company for many years. One day, in the middle of an important project, they tell you that they need to step back for a bit to take care of their mental health.
How do you answer this? Do you support their decision, despite how it severely affects the success of the project? Or will you punish them for being selfish and letting their team down?
So many managers and companies have been playing a good game about wanting to take care of their employees’ mental health. Well, this is where it matters. When it’s inconvenient. All Subsidized therapy, meditation apps, and health reimbursements in the world don’t matter if we also can’t respect an individual’s decision to take care of their mental health at no time. convenient for business.
No one denies that hard work…
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