Last week I touched some nerves apparently, because the backlash was quick and severe – some of it downright mean. (Although one comment made me chuckle when it said I was nowhere near the athlete Simone Biles or LeBron James are . . . wow, not exactly a news flash. But hey, when I was younger I actually was a pretty good athlete . . . but still nowhere near James and Biles. Trust me on that one!)
To recap quickly – I wrote that Biles was being called the greatest gymnast of all time and that since she withdrew she can’t be. And I used the example of Michael Jordan playing in game five of the NBA finals when he was sick, and led his team to a victory and scored 38 points. THAT’S the stuff legends are made of.
Of course the word rallied around Biles. Everyone from Michelle OBama to Justin Bieber said that none of us understand the pressures these stars are under.
Look, I’m not ripping Biles. She did what she thought best for her. That’s her call. And if anyone is criticizing her for pulling out, they’re missing the point. She did what she thought best for her. She has that right. End of story.
But we’re now a society that celebrates quitting. It’s a fair point that social media has magnified the pressures that people, especially young people, feel. Would Jordan, Bill Russell and Kirk Gibson have pulled off their well-documented heroics had their lives been laid bare on social media?
We’ll never know.
We don’t need to though.
We are now so incredibly soft as a society that it scares me for our future. Why in the world would anyone allow the opinion of faceless strangers on a computer or phone screen impact their lives? And if they can’t help but let strangers’ words affect them, then why in the world would they even look?
Our grandfathers fought in a World War and survived atrocities most of us can’t imagine, and our kids think it’s a big deal when someone is mean to them?
I’m sorry, but an athlete – especially elite ones – don’t have it tough. Want to know what tough is? Look around our community. There’s a guy down the street who works two jobs to make ends meet. There’s a single mom who’s hoping the tips from the crappy waitressing job are enough to help catch up the rent. There’s a cop or a firefighter who leaves the house each morning without knowing if they’re coming home that evening.
You want tough? Try paying $1,800 worth of monthly bills with $1,153 in the bank.
I get it. I’m a hater. But we used to be a country that stood up for each other. No one should condemn Biles for her decision, but we sure shouldn’t celebrate it either. It’d be nice if we got back to celebrating achievements.

Two cents, which is about how much Timmons said his columns are worth, appears periodically on Wednesdays in The Paper. Timmons is the publisher of The Paper and can be contacted at