COLUMN: Dear Olympics, care more about your athletes


Katja Benz

Katja Benz, Columnist

For those that haven’t been paying attention to NBC, the Winter Olympics are going on between Feb. 4 and Feb. 20, 2022. The Summer Olympics went from July 23 to Aug. 8, 2021 and were delayed because of the start of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020.

While we all love watching figure skating and gymnastics, and as talented as all Olympic athletes are, there is so much going on behind the scenes that viewers don’t know about.

From ridiculously grueling practice schedules to having to compete in events that do so much damage to your body, Olympic athletes don’t have it easy. And to make things worse, the conditions for the athletes in Beijing at the moment probably aren’t great.

During the 2020 summer Olympics, gymnast Simone Biles withdrew from competition because her mental health wasn’t doing well. During that same Olympics, she took home a bronze metal on balance beam and a silver metal for the team event.

Even though people were excited to see her perform, she just couldn’t. And that’s okay.

Sometimes people don’t realize that Olympians are also human. We deserve breaks and so do they.

I think that to an extent, people view Olympians as more than athletes. People view them as entertainers, as people so magical that they do no wrong, or worse: people have a bar set so high for Olympians that is too high for them to reach.

That stigma makes the Olympic dream magical, almost to a point of unreachability. And when these athletes finally reach it, they work themselves harder to get Olympic gold.

When they push themselves too hard just to preform, they may neglect other aspects of their health just to preform to those standards.

And the Olympic committee lets it happen, but at what cost?

When Simone Biles withdrew from the Summer 2020 Olympics because of her mental health, people found it inspiring and rightfully so. She was finally taking care of something the Olympic committee seemingly denied her the right to.

How ethical is it for the Olympic committee to do so?

And I’m asking that for all Olympic athletes, not just Simone Biles. She, unfortunately, is the face of a movement that should have been started sooner.

Maybe the Olympic committee just wants the views. Views, though, are nothing in comparison to a person’s mental health.

If you think about it, if the committee doesn’t think about the athletes as whole people, they can retire sooner and views can go down.

Which begs the question of how much views really cost.

Especially when people’s health is at stake. Just because these people are Olympians doesn’t mean that we should treat them any differently than we do ourselves. Just because they live a different lifestyle than us non Olympians doesn’t mean their mental health is any less important.

In fact, I’d argue it’s almost more so.

Katja Benz is a junior English major. She can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected]