Like millions of people worldwide, I watched many Olympic events these past few weeks. I love to watch sports that I played, like volleyball and softball. I also enjoyed watching other sports such as water polo, rugby, track and field, you name it. Just watching these amazing athletes has been so inspiring, especially when these athletes are setting boundaries about their wellbeing and bringing attention to global issues.
While not an Olympic event, the Norwegian handball team was fined in late July because they wore shorts instead of bikini bottoms. They prioritized comfort and practicality over sexist rules. Simone Biles withdrew from the team events for her mental health, namely because she had a case of the twisties, where an athlete’s body and mind are not working as one. Biles decided she was going to make decisions for her own physical and mental health rather than catering to people who were making demands that could end her career. The German gymnastics team wore full-length unitards in hopes to change the clothing requirements so that more young people feel comfortable participating in the sport. The US Men’s Fencing team wore pink masks in solidarity of sexual assault survivors because they weren’t happy that one of their teammates was still allowed to represent the US after being accused of sexual misconduct. Earlier this year, Naomi Osaka stated she wasn’t going to participate in post-game interviews and even withdrew from a major tournament for her mental health. Across the world, athletes are taking a stand. These athletes are great role models for the next generation because they are showing that mental health matters and that using their platform can bring awareness and, hopefully, change to global issues.
I am incredibly happy these athletes are taking a stand. They are showing the world what’s going on. The fact that the Norwegian handball team was fined for “a case of improper clothing” is ridiculous. To quote a tweet I’ve been seeing recently that highlights the double standard on policing women’s bodies: “We live in a world where girls and women are fined for trying to cover up while playing sports, but also EXPELLED from schools if their shoulders are showing.” Simone Biles was told that she’s a professional athlete and she needs to learn how to take the pressure by a man who, two days later, lost a tennis match and proceeded to break two tennis rackets and then withdrew from a double’s match, ensuring that his partner couldn’t receive a medal she rightfully worked for. Talk about not being able to handle pressure and loss. These incredible athletes do understand the pressure of being a professional athlete; they are just setting boundaries with the public and with sport officials about what is and isn’t acceptable anymore. To paraphrase Simone Biles, “They’re not just entertainment; they’re humans.”