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Ben Simmons

Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Ben Simmons’ Mental Health is a Joke, but Simone Biles’ isn’t?

Ben Simmons
Mitchell Leff/Getty Images

Ben Simmons’ Mental Health is a Joke, but Simone Biles’ isn’t?

In the last few years we saw a groundbreaking shift regarding the mental health of athletes. Not only have more athletes been willing to speak out about their mental health, but many also acted upon it generally receiving a very positive response. Simone Biles’ decision to drop out of the 2021 Tokyo Olympics due to her mental health was championed for the awareness she had brought to the issue at such a global stage. Similarly, superstar women’s tennis player Naomi Osaka was flooded with massive waves of support after she chose to sit out of the French Open and Wimbledon in 2021. Yet, Ben Simmons sat out this past NBA season in large part due to his injuries, but as well as his mental health concerns. And well, let’s just say the response was quite different.

Simmons was finally traded to the Brooklyn Nets after months of desperation to get out of Philadelphia leaving fans extremely excited for his return from injury. Eventually, Simmons never stepped on the court for his new team and the backlash was quite something.

And these are just 2 examples out of the thousands of times Simmons has been trolled, clowned, or memed about sitting out of the season. Essentially, Simmons has been constantly berated this season in the NBA world which likely only perpetuated his difficult mental situation.

Now I get it. People think he’s scared to play and is just trying to get his 20 million dollars with minimal effort. At the same time though, it seems massively unfair to completely ostracize Simmons for his decision after seeing other star athletes do the same. Is it because NBA fans are probably a little more crazy and hyper about their sport than say gymnastics or tennis fans? Maybe.

Yet I can’t seem to shake the idea that it also comes down to people having far more sympathy for women when it comes down to mental health. Now, both women and men have aspects in society where they’re affected disproportionately but the response to Simmons’ decision vs Osaka’s and Biles’ is a pretty evident example of the double standard men face regarding mental health, specifically celebrities. Kanye West is another great example of this but that’s a story for another day.

The stigma around the idea that men can struggle with these issues and that they should be able to just “toughen up” results in responses that Ben Simmons faced. His antics in the past, although not justified, may have been as a result of his mental health as well which is something that people have to take into account with the knowledge we have now.

Simmons doesn’t have to be completely supported and admired for his decision, especially when considering he filed a grievance for his salary that was withheld from him. But, at the very least, he deserves for his decision to be respected. Call him a one dimensional player who can’t shoot the 3 ball. Fine. Calling him a crybaby for sitting out a season due to injury and personal issues? Not fine in my book. Athletes are humans at the end of the day and man or woman, they should all be treated thoughtfully when regarding a serious issue like mental health.



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