Fox News’ Outnumbered Defends Simone Biles from Critics: ‘If You’re Having a Mental Block…You Have to Say No’


Fox News’ Outnumbered panel was largely sympathetic to Simone Biles as they discussed the champion gymnast’s decision to pull back from the Olympics in Tokyo.

Biles announced her decision after a shaky performance before the gymnastics team finals, and she cited a need to focus on her mental health for the time being. Her choice has drawn support from a number of admirers, though several commentators and critics — including Fox Sports’ Doug Gottlieb — have been much less sympathetic.

When Outnumbered discussed on Wednesday, medical contributor Dr. Nicole Saphier started things off by noting that unchecked mental health “can lead to very poor outcomes” in sports.

“I’m glad she’s acknowledging it, came public with it, and doing what she needs to do to take care of herself,” Saphier said. “It’s unfortunate that it’s taken her to get to the Olympics to have this breakdown. Perhaps [the U.S. Olympics Team] needs to look within themselves as an organization to see what they could have done to help her prior to getting to this event. We have to increase our awareness of mental health. It’s just as important as our physical health.”

Harris Faulkner followed up by noting that Biles was among the hundreds of young women athletes who were sexually molested by Team USA’s former doctor, Larry Nassar. Hillbilly Elegy author JD Vance, who was the #OneLuckyGuy of the day, called it “understandable” that Biles was feeling under a lot of pressure, though he slammed the media for how “we tried to turn a tragic moment…into this act of heroism.”

“I think it reflects pretty poorly on our therapeutic society that we try to praise people not for moments of strength not for moments of heroism, but for their weakest moments,” he said. “That’s really where the problem lies. It’s not Simone Biles, it’s the media that wants us to obsess over somebody’s failures instead of her successes.”

Dagen McDowell got up next by disputing Vance’s characterization of Biles’ “failure,” explaining that “the praise is coming because she was open about what she was facing.” She continued by acknowledging the factors that might have negatively impacted Biles’ mental health, plus McDowell shared that she has also experienced panic attacks in the spotlight.

In this sport, at the level at which Simone Biles competes, which is head and shoulder as above everybody else in terms of her skills…if you’re having a mental block, which is probably what is happening, you run the risk of a catastrophic injury. And so, you have to say no, I’m stepping back, and that’s all it is. I’m glad she’s talking about it. I can’t do gymnastics and I’m not putting myself at risk but a lot of people cope with suffering panic attacks. I’ve had panic attacks on the air. You push through. I’ve tried to talk about it. I’m not comparing myself to Simone Biles because what this woman did and what she’s done in her life given everything she’s overcome, every hurdle she jumps, she deserves praise up and down all day long until the end of time.

Faulkner concluded the panel shortly after by hoping that Biles has been hearing more positive reactions than the negative after her decision.

Watch above, via Fox News.

Have a tip we should know?

Filed Under: