Jim O'Donnell: Simone Biles scores a victory for the enduring glory of independent thought

  • Simone Biles watches gymnasts perform after she exited the team final Tuesday at the Tokyo Olympics.

    Simone Biles watches gymnasts perform after she exited the team final Tuesday at the Tokyo Olympics. Associated Press

Updated 7/28/2021 8:21 PM


The Beatles sang, "Think For Yourself."


The fierce French nationalist Charles de Gaulle referred to it as the unique sort of self-awareness to "withdraw from events before events withdraw from you."

On one of the world's most jagged sports stages, Simone Biles put it all into play.

In a decision that will honor her legacy long after the final plant has been landed, the 24-year-old mega-champ put her health ahead of the amoral commercialism of the Tokyo Olympics.

Perhaps the greatest gymnast in the history of the sport, Biles withdrew from both the women's team final and the all-around competition.

Citing her "mental well-being," Biles left decisions on whether she will compete in the individual events beginning Sunday -- the vault, uneven bars, floor ex and balance beam -- blowing in the peacocked Japanese wind.

In a lesson that hopefully the more mindful of future generations will remember, Biles said, "It's OK to take a back seat even at the most important meet."

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Prominent independent thought disrupting the unctuous churn of the $25 billion Tokyo Games?

Didn't Biles realize she is the face of these Olympics?

Has she no sense of decency toward the profiteering of the International Olympic Committee, the U.S. Olympic & Paralympic Committee and greed lap dog NBCUniversal?

"I came here and I felt like I was still doing it for other people," Biles said. "So that just breaks my heart that doing what I love has been kind of taken away from me to please other people."

The Brain Police can only hope that the Biles sense of self-prioritization against dehumanizing institutional agendae isn't catching.

But with or without her, the haunted 2021 Games of Garish Denial shall go on.


And hopefully, so will the lessons of Simone Biles on the pursuit of excellence tempered by the courageous joy of a vault seldom taken.

INFORMED SPECULATION CONTINUES that "a person of influence" with the ear of Churchill Downs Inc. CEO Bill Carstanjen does not want the Bears in a new global-class stadium at the redeveloped Arlington Park.

The rumor is 99% untrackable. Subsequent events will tell.

As first put forth by regional commercial real estate maestro David Trandel in The Daily Herald, the most profitable sale of the racetrack's 326 acres would likely occur in two phases.

In the first, CDI and/or "a partner" would reach agreement with the Bears to build their new George S. Halas Stadium on approximately 80 acres of the Arlington land.

Part two would involve CDI receiving a significantly increased price for the remaining acreage because of the future presence of the Bears.

The difference in profit to CDI could range up to $300 million, according to Trandel.

But Carstanjen's decision-making elicits vast autonomy and confidence from almost all CDI shareholders.

With his company's market capitalization now nearing $7.5 billion, if he elects to placate a significant accelerator and take a one-time profit diminishment by keeping the Bears out at Arlington, who among that pool of investors is going to balk?

NEWS ON THE CDI/AP/BEARS FRONT continues to quake along the rail this week:

• Carstanjen will host the company's 2Q investors call Thursday morning.

While the possibility exists that he could announce the sale of AP or a conclusion to talks concerning a new Bears stadium on the site, past performances suggest he instead will report in precisely worded fashion on more general deflective matters;

• Staff of Melissa Helton -- GM of the FanDuel Sportsbook and Horse Racing/Fairmount Park near East St. Louis -- said that there has been no communications about CDI leasing that racetrack for any dates in 2022;

• The deadline for submission of 2022 racing dates to the Illinois Racing Board is Friday afternoon. Despite the fact CDI has had a dates app in hand for weeks, only Southwest suburban Hawthorne and FanDuel/Fairmount are certain to file to race next year.

WORD THAT ARLINGTON WILL HIRE temporary workers to augment staff for the diminished "Festival of Farewell" on Aug. 14 recalled the afternoon of the 1985 "Miracle Million."

Bodies were being hired left and right for the freewheeling event, which was held 24 days after a fire leveled the Arlington grandstand.

Through a union contact, an area tradesman took on a role to pull and sell drafts from an iced kegs to the east of the track apron. His "cash register" was a cigar box.

His union man told him, "And make sure you take care of yourself."

At the end of the day, he had close to $200 in tips and roughly $2,300 in his box. So, he took another $200 out of the box.

On his way to checking out, the beersmith was called over by his union guy.

"Let me count your box," the veteran said, then adding: "Oh no ... way too much. Take this."

He handed the rookie $300 more and left $1,800 for the house.

"Kid, ya gotta learn to stay in line with your brothers. This 'miracle' is for us."

• Jim O'Donnell's Sports & Media column appears Thursday and Sunday. Reach him at jimodonnelldh@yahoo.com.

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