Black Olympians Often Have 'The Weight Of The World' On Their Shoulders : Consider This from NPR When Simone Biles dropped out of her Olympic competitions this week, the whole world took notice. At 24 years old Biles is the most decorated gymnast ever, she's won 36 medals—27 of those are gold. And she said via Instagram that it can feel like she "has the weight of the world," on her shoulders at times.

When an athlete performs on a stage as hallowed and renowned as the Olympics, it's not surprising to see that this can have a negative psychological effect. University of Denver professor Mark Aoyagi explains that in many ways, elite competitions are inherently unhealthy.

The stress can be even more acute for Black athletes like Biles. Sociologist Harry Edwards wrote about this over 50 years ago and says these young Olympians are forced to deal with both the aspiration and fear of "Black excellence."

In participating regions, you'll also hear a local news segment that will help you make sense of what's going on in your community.

Email us at considerthis@npr.org.

Black Olympians Often Have 'The Weight Of The World' On Their Shoulders

Black Olympians Often Have 'The Weight Of The World' On Their Shoulders

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USA's Simone Biles looks on during the artistic gymnastics women's team final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on July 27, 2021. Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images hide caption

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Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images

USA's Simone Biles looks on during the artistic gymnastics women's team final during the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at the Ariake Gymnastics Centre in Tokyo on July 27, 2021.

Loic Venance/AFP via Getty Images

When Simone Biles dropped out of her Olympic competitions this week, the whole world took notice. At 24 years old Biles is the most decorated gymnast ever, she's won 36 medals—27 of those are gold. And she said via Instagram that it can feel like she "has the weight of the world," on her shoulders at times.

When an athlete performs on a stage as hallowed and renowned as the Olympics, it's not surprising to see that this can have a negative psychological effect. University of Denver professor Mark Aoyagi explains that in many ways, elite competitions are inherently unhealthy.

The stress can be even more acute for Black athletes like Biles. Sociologist Harry Edwards wrote about this over 50 years ago and says these young Olympians are forced to deal with both the aspiration and fear of "Black excellence."

In participating regions, you'll also hear a local news segment that will help you make sense of what's going on in your community.

Email us at considerthis@npr.org.

This episode was produced by Brianna Scott, Jonaki Mehta, Brandon Shillingford, and Lee Hale. It was edited by Sami Yenigun and Fatma Tanis. Our executive producer is Cara Tallo.