POLL QUESTION – AUGUST 1
By Leo Haggerty

SHOULD AN ATHLETE EVER BE ACCUSED OF CHOKING?

With the sudden withdraw of Simone Biles from the women’s gymnastics All-Around competition after a perilous opening vault due to what she referred to as mental health issues, the term “choke” has been bantered around by numerous members of the media.  This leads to our POLL QUESTION this week.

SHOULD AN ATHLETE EVER BE ACCUSED OF CHOKING?

As you might expect, the responses from our group were extremely varied.  So, without further adieu, enjoy.

MIKE SCHULZE – CONTRIBUTOR
Not an amateur athlete, but if It’s a top level professional who makes an error or has a series of bad performance on something they should have done easily (as opposed to not just not quite had their best performance), then it is what it is.

KAZ RIVARD – NFC NORTH CORRESPONDENT
Is it an accusation if it’s factual? If a player in fact does “choke” or even under perform I have absolutely no problem for them being called out.

JASON RUBIN – AFC EAST CORRESPONDENT
Absolutely. This is sports!

DARREN PODOLAK – KSP HOCKEY ANALYST
Such is the life of a public figure – your actions are subject to public scrutiny, it’s in the job description.  The debate on whether choking criticism is warranted or not is what gives people in sports media (nudge nudge) content to debate! Each individual within the public has varying opinions on how much context matters, but that’s also kind of what makes it “public opinion.”  In the case of Simone Biles, I’m much happier having this conversation now rather than one after she DIDN’T pull herself out of the team event and has a horrible head/neck injury that turns her into a paraplegic vegetable at age 25.  In the case of Ben Simmons, I think his actions will/do have real world impacts to his market value as a player. No public discussion required – GM’s and other teams noticed that a 6th grader would’ve had more offensive impact than he did in the ’21 NBA Playoffs.

LEO HAGGERTY – ISM EDITOR
Let me start my response with the following statement.  I have never, nor will I ever, refer to a performance by any athlete as choke that ended up in an epic fail.  The individual wasn’t trying to miss the putt or drop the pass or air ball the free throw or strike out with the bases loaded or miss the net on a breakaway or hit the crossbar with a penalty kick.  They just didn’t succeed and that should suffice.  The effort was there and the process was correct but the outcome wasn’t the desired one.  Heck, just report what happened especially if the athlete is not a professional.  If they’re getting paid, then just say something to the extent that “in this situation the desired outcome wasn’t achieved” and let it go.  That athlete has to live with that, some for the rest of their lives, and doesn’t need someone who was never in that type of situation pontificating on the event.