August Letters to Jim: Simone Biles, the Olympics and the Delta Variant Run Wild

Illustration by Tim Forkes

It is hard to believe we are halfway through Summer. Schools are already opening, COVID is running rampant in parts of the country, and the Olympics are in full swing. It’s as good a time as any to check in with my fan base and see what is on their minds.

Dear Jim,
Can you still believe some states have low vaccination rates given how dangerous the Delta variant of COVID is?  What argument would you use to convince someone who chooses not to be vaccinated to get one? Is it time to mandate vaccinations for all?
A Concerned Reader

Dear Concerned,

I no longer try to convince people to get vaccinated. If you are willing to roll the dice with your life and risk catching COVID, go for it.  There are too many people in this nation as it is, and if we lose people who are unable to grasp the seriousness of this illness, then who am I to think I can talk sense into them?

Our herd can use a little thinning. If people want to follow the words of those who have an agenda of their own, go ahead. Most of these blind followers fail to understand the people leading them toward the edge of a cliff have been vaccinated and are gigantic hypocrites.

I have no interest trying to fix stupid.

Now, as for mandating vaccinations for all, I am totally against this, and Democrats should be too. If you do not like the idea of government overreaching on the issue of abortion and claim it should be the right of women to do what they choose with their bodies, there is no difference when it comes to vaccinations.

That said, I believe employers are well within their rights to require employees to be vaccinated if their job has them in contact with the public or colleagues who are considered high risk. It’s no different than requiring them to wear safety equipment. We know masks are still needed, but no one wants to be the bad guy and require them.

Dear Jim,
You have been involved in athletics over your life, what was your reaction to Simone Biles dropping out of the team event finals? People are calling her brave for saying it was for mental reasons. Do you agree?

Dear GOAT,

I was hoping to not have to talk about this because inevitably, unless you come out as a huge fan of everything Simone Biles does, you get blasted by haters.  Biles has been an amazing athlete and serves well as a role model. She is the primary reason women’s gymnastics is so popular to follow at the Olympic games.

I cannot imagine the pressure that comes with being the world’s best gymnast and having to perform on such a large stage. However, one thing that sets the greatest athletes apart from all others is their ability to rise to the occasion and overcome adversity. In this instance, Simone Biles failed. Doubts, expectations, outside pressures are all part of the challenge of being a Super Star. Walking out in the middle of a team competition is letting down your team, even if they all speak out in support of you after.

Now this may sound harsh to her fans, but I mention this because she was participating in the team aspect of her sport. Had she dropped out during the individual portion, Biles hurts no one. However, in a team sport, there are others who rely on you. If indeed she was that fragile going into the competition, she should have pulled herself before it started. There were signs in the preliminary round that the pressure was affecting her.

Teammates are forgiving when a superstar struggles. No one talked trash when Michael Jordan missed a game winning shot or Tom Brady tossed a late interception because their teammates know they rise to the occasion more often than they come up short. The same is true with Biles. However, if you enter a team competition knowing you are off your mark, you owe it to everyone to let them know rather than keep quiet. More than anything, had Biles done this, she might have found her teammates would have lifted her in her time of need.

As for the mental health component, I think we all do a disservice to athletes like Biles and heap too much praise and glory on them before an event like the Olympics. Can we at least go back to when we did this after the competition is over? Perhaps then fewer athletes will crack under the enormous pressure they face. My hope is Biles recovers and rises like the champion she is and shows the world what a wonderful athlete she is during the individual competition. Most of all, Biles is like anyone else. Her fame and fortune mean nothing if it comes at the expense of her mental health.

Dear Jim,
Have you any thoughts on the anti-sex beds in the Olympic Village? Is there even such a thing?
Just wondering

Dear JW,

Yes, there is such a thing as an anti-sex bed. In fact, there are a few that come to mind. The first is a bed of nails. I don’t care who you are, I challenge anyone to try having sex on one. Even if you are into pain, I can’t see any couple enjoying carnal activities on one.

The other one that comes to mind is a waterbed. Maybe it is just me, but I get motion sickness pretty easy and the last thing I want to during sex is to hurl all over my partner. And before you suggest I wear a patch for motion sickness, you might as well just knock me out cold. I prefer to remain awake while I perform. For that matter, I prefer my partner to do the same.

Dear Jim,
I know you are a sports fan. Have you any thoughts on the new name for the Cleveland Indians? I am not sure I understand it. Can you explain it to me?

Dear Stumped,

In case you missed it, the Cleveland Indians are now the Cleveland Guardians. Not only did the franchise retire Chief Wahoo, but they also ridded themselves of the name that offended Native Americans. While I do not like how some organizations are targeted while others are not, I guess if you want to remain politically correct, changing your team’s name is a good thing to do when your team is mediocre at best. It’s why we see the dropping of Indians and Redskins while a winner like the Chiefs remains okay.

As to Cleveland’s new nickname, I have no idea why they selected it. What do the Guardians guard? It’s Cleveland for God’s sake so it is not like they are under attack by an outside force that wants to take over the city. It is still The Mistake by The Lake. Perhaps the Guardians are preventing more folks from leaving the city.

As far as baseball goes, it is one team sport where you do not have to guard your opponent. You just have to throw a high hard one now and then and make sure to juice up on PEDs if you want to be any good. Apparently, Cleveland is not worried about being good so changing their name and selling a bunch of new t-shirts seems like a great idea. Personally, I will stick with my Chief Wahoo cap and live with verbal abuse.

Dear Jim,
Do you believe nursing mom’s competing at the Olympics should be allowed to bring their child to the games when non-nursing children must remain home?

Dear Perplexed,

It depends. Is nursing an Olympic sport?  If so, then I think competitors should be allowed to bring their nursing child with them. It’s no different than an equestrian rider getting to bring their horse to the games or a marathon runner bringing their running shoes.

However, if it is not a sport, you must consider whether there is a competitive advantage for the nursing mom. Let’s say there is a nursing mom in the finals of the 100-meter dash. Does she have an advantage over the non-nursing runners if at the start line, she begins breast feeding her kid?  What if that act causes her opponents to not hear the starter’s gun and get out of the blocks slowly?  Worse, what if it causes them to jump the gun and be disqualified?

All the more reason why I am glad I am not a woman.

Dear Jim,
What was the most ridiculous news story you read about this past month? I am betting it involves the GOP. Am I right?
GOP Hater

Dear GOP Hater,

Sorry, you are wrong. The most ridiculous story from the last month has to do with clothing. In particular, the clothing worn by women in sports and the Clothing Nazis who come up with their rules.

A Paralympic sprinter was informed she would not be allowed to wear the shorts she wears for competitions because they were too short. Keep in mind, they are the same cut of shorts she wore in the previous games and all other competitions she has run in. They are also longer than some of the shorts preferred by female distance runners. Ah, but rules are rules and in the name of public decency, let’s shame another female athlete.

Meanwhile, Norway’s Beach Handball team was fined because they opted to wear more modest shorts that appear to be the same cut as the shorts worn by the Paralympic sprinter. I guess when you play a sport on the beach, you are required to wear bikini bottoms, otherwise, why would men want to watch it?

This is why I believe the Olympics needs to return to athletes competing buck naked like they did in the age of the Greeks. Of course, only men competed then. Now that women have ruined sports with their fashion choices, there is hardly time to talk about all the great athletes.

Dear Jim,
It was reported last year the average life expectancy in the United States dropped by 18 months in the last year. Do you believe it will continue dropping at such a high rate as long as COVID is around?
Hoping to Grow Old

Dear HTGO,

It may well drop some more the next year or two. However, by then, most of the idiots who think this illness is all a hoax will have died off and our nation will comfortably enjoy herd immunity and we can get back to dropping dead from heart attacks, strokes, cancer, gun shots, and overdoses.

Dear Jim,
Now that Jeff Bezos has joined Richard Branson and touched the edge of space, what do you think would be a better use of their money?
Not Impressed

Dear Not Impressed,

Neither am I. I could care less about billionaires playing a game of my rocket is bigger than your rocket when their money could help humanity today. However, it is their money and if they can find enough rich people who want to pay over $20 million dollars for a flight that lasts less time than someone having sex on a bed of nails, who am I to judge?

I’d be more impressed if they led a fleet of well-equipped flying tankers to put out the fires that rage in part because they have helped destroy this planet. Then again, I’d be impressed if I could stop clicking the Bold Type option while I hammer out this column. I suppose we all do what we can to improve the world.

Looks like we got through this month’s letters with minimal damage. While you try to enjoy what is left of this summer, I will work on my keyboarding skills and see if I can learn to inadvertently hit another key while doing next month’s column.

Stay cool, drink lots of fluids, and make sure your shorts are the correct length.