I was appalled by the Aug. 5 column penned by Bob Barr entitled “Are American athletes morphing into snowflakes.” I would counter with a title for this letter as “Are American conservative columnists morphing into callous malicious labelers?” As a physician for over 50 years, I am very much aware that health and life are affected by physical and mental issues. Professional athletes know their bodies’ limits and they know when to rest. Should they risk death and serious injury when their body says no?
Contrast this column to one written by Chip Towers in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution on the same day in which Teresa Edwards, another accomplished Olympian, comments on Simone Bile’s controversy. Simone felt her remaining in the games would hurt the team more than help, with her reservations about her ability to compete. The team did win silver and several accomplished members of the team medaled without Simone in the games. She returned in an individual event to win the Bronze medal, a total of seven in Olympic games tying the record for most medals for a gymnast from America. Teresa Edward’s stated, “So, I support her. I tremendously support her.”
During my college years, I worked during the summers as a laborer at an oil refinery in Louisiana. I climbed towers; climbed into tank cars to hand wipe residue, supported by a fellow laborer pumping air into my mask in these sweltering beds of metal under a hot Louisiana summer sun. I could not think of doing some of those things, even at age 50. We all reach a time of deciding what we can or cannot do. I respect that.
Interestingly, on the website for Liberty Guard, an organization in which Mr. Barr is listed as head, second in the list of what the Guard believes is the following: “Individual, and individuals alone, are the best decision-makers for their own lives.” I believe that should be extended to Simone Biles and Naomi Osaka. Mr. Barr has made decisions to switch political parties on two occasions. He has had sponsored bills rejected and lost political contests. Those are based on decisions he had to make at the moment, but this latest column of opinion, in my mind, is vile and reveals more character flaws than Simone Biles. Simone is an American hero! Bob Barr isn’t!