The Spark

the Voice of
The Communist League of Revolutionary Workers–Internationalist

“The emancipation of the working class will only be achieved by the working class itself.”
— Karl Marx

Simone Biles:
Pressure to Make Profits for Others

Aug 2, 2021

Many people watched the Olympics, hoping to see Simone Biles perform. Biles is considered to be one of the greatest, if not the greatest, women’s gymnast ever. She won 4 gold medals in the 2016 Olympics and has won 30 Olympic or World Championships. She has perfected routines that are so difficult that most other gymnasts won’t even attempt them. Biles’ skill and athleticism are breath-taking.

So when Simone Biles withdrew from some events of the Olympic gymnastics competition, it disappointed a lot of people, most especially Biles herself, who had trained for 5 years since the last Olympics for this moment. Biles talked about the pressure that she felt to perform and that “it certainly feels like I have the weight of the whole world on my shoulders.”

The weight that Biles felt on her shoulders was weight of a system in which every human endeavor and accomplishment becomes turned into something to make a profit.

Biles had been heavily promoted as the star of these Olympics by the International Olympic Committee (IOC), the U.S. Olympic Committee and the TV networks that broadcast these games. The IOC expects to make about 3 to 4 billion dollars from these Olympics. NBC, which is broadcasting the Olympics in the U.S., has paid over 12 billion dollars for broadcast rights to these and future Olympics. NBC will get this money back, and much more in profits, from advertisers. And the companies that advertise on the Olympic broadcasts will make profits from all the products that sell.

The IOC, NBC and all of them are making money, not through any real work of their own, but rather they are profiting from the years of hard work and training of Simone Biles and the thousands of other athletes from around the world who are competing in the Olympics.

The pressure and the “weight of the world” that Biles felt comes from all those hyping her and promoting her and selling her to be the star of the Olympics ... so they can make money from her performances.

In a different system, a system based on developing the full potential of every human being, instead of the profits of a few, athletes like Simone Biles could compete purely for the love of the sport, for the joy of gaining the physical skills through hard work and training, for the satisfaction of excelling at something so difficult and for the thrill and excitement of competition. And the only pressure will be that which they put on themselves to excel.