So it’s good to see a little public shaming of cheaters because millions of people worldwide know and most still despise frauds.
Another story the Olympic athletes can teach us is about families. Simone Biles has been described as the greatest gymnast in the world, perhaps the greatest gymnast in history. She is a 4-foot-9 blend of rocket fuel and fairy dust. Along with the other women (and men) who do their magic on vaults, rings, bars and beams, she stretches our understanding of what muscle, sinew and bone can do.
It is inconceivable, though, that however much natural talent, determination and championism (my neologism for the psychological toughness it takes to be a successful competitor) Simone Biles was born with, she would never have made it past junior high gymnastics without the support of her adoptive parents. No champion, far less a world-beater like Biles, can hope to achieve her goals if left to wilt in foster care. Her biological grandfather and his wife, though they had already raised two boys to adulthood, couldn’t let that happen to Simone and her sister. So they started over with young children, becoming Dad and Mom again. And as good parents do, they went all in — the gymnastics lessons, and the travel, and the home-schooling, and the emergency room visits, and the care not to neglect the sister, and the whole exhausting, exhilarating ride.
Biles’ story is not typical. Once-in-a-generation athletes are anything but typical. But her family story is becoming more common. In 2010, the U.S. Census reported, 4.9 million American children were being raised solely by their grandparents. That’s nearly double the number from 2000. It was the softest of landings for the spirited Simone Biles. She has much to teach about the blessing of adoption, the meaning of love and the irreplaceable institution of the family.