Doug Gottlieb: “Here is the problem that I have. I have no problem with Simone Biles if she has a mental health issue, my issue is this – it’s actually twofold. One, we have a tendency to make every mental health issue one in which you’re like ‘STOP THE PRESSES, SHE COULD BE SUICIDAL!’ There is a difference between somebody being suicidal and having a mental health episode. I didn’t have any problems with Naomi Osaka not playing tennis, I do have a problem with shaming the media who has been overly kind to her. My biggest problem in the world is hypocrites, and I also like congruent arguments; when an argument is good for one, it’s good for another. When I say ‘LeBron James vs. the Dallas Mavericks in the NBA Finals’ what comes to your mind? ‘LEBRON CHOKED!’… No one said ‘We need to be concerned about LeBron James’ mental health!’ Last year Paul George was roundly criticized – ‘Pandemic P’, ‘he stinks’, ‘why are the Clippers so bad?’ and Paul George came out and was like ‘I was not in the right headspace, I’m trying to get it together’, then he had a good game and he was like ‘I got my mental health together’, then he had a bad game and people were like ‘Paul George can’t play well in the big moments!’ We live in a world where for years women have said ‘all we want to be judged as is EQUAL’. No one has actually been critical of Simone Biles. In ten years no one is going to go ‘Simone Biles may be the greatest gymnast ever in some people’s minds, but that night against the Russians in that team competition she CHOKED!’ Nobody would say that. Generally, we don’t have any sort of critique for our female sports teams. In one hand you want to be viewed, treated, and compensated the same as the men, but on the other hand whatever you do, just don’t be critical of us because that’s not a space we like to live in. Which is it? You want to have it both ways, at least admit it… She’s built up years worth of equity over great performances in big moments, if she really had a major mental health meltdown she wouldn’t be at the games and thinking about competing later this week. I’m not being insensitive. I understand she’s been through a lot personally, I’m sensitive to that and empathetic towards that… I would also tell you, so have a lot of other athletes... If you say ‘mental health care' we automatically go ‘WHOA, WHOA, WHOA, WE CAN’T BE CRITICAL ANYMORE!’ Can we be smartly critical? Imagine Clayton Kershaw. How many times did he fail in the postseason? Did anybody go ‘I wonder how Clayton Kershaw's mental health was after blowing another lead in the 7th inning to the St. Louis Cardinals!’ Did anybody wonder how good Kenley Jansen's mental health is, considering how bad he's been in the World Series at times? Did anybody ask? Of course not. When Chris Paul played bad in a big moment, 'Chris Paul sucks! Chris Paul choked!' When James Harden didn't play well in the Western Conference Finals, 'James Harden choked! James Harden sucked!' If any male athlete were to pull out due to mental health issues, while most of us would understand, sports fans expect athletes to be able to compartmentalize all their stress, all their anxiety, and still perform… NOBODY has been critical of Simone Biles. USA Today wrote that is was ‘heartbreaking’ what happened to Simone Biles. Did anybody write it was heartbreaking when the Clippers lost last year because Paul George wasn’t in the right mental health space? Did anyone say it was ‘heartbreaking’ when LeBron James lost to the Dallas Mavericks because he wasn’t in the right mental health space and he needed some mental health recuperation during his first year in Miami, and it was a lot he was dealing with? Of course not. So we will either admit that we judge and view one sex and one type of sport in one way, and another sex and another type of sport in another way? OR will we start to have real conversations about it? You pick… In sports, what separates the best of the best is their ability to process ALL of that stress and anxiety and still perform.” (Full Video Above)
Listen to Doug Gottlieb discuss the shocking news of decorated women’s gymnast Simone Biles pulling out of a recent Olympic gymnastics team event because of ‘mental stress’, and why he believes the absence of criticism towards Biles, whether deserved or not, shows the glaring double-standard between the way the sports media covers men's and women’s sports.
Check out the audio above as Gottlieb details the stark differences between the empathetic and understanding coverage of women’s sports vs. the unforgiving and often antagonistic coverage of the men.