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Couch: Simone Biles and Novak Djokovic star in forgettable 'Selfie Games'

Op-ed
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Four days left, and the Tokyo Olympics still haven't been defined by heart-warming moments as much as tension and self-absorption. Is this all we are now?

I'm still a sucker. I'll admit that. I've been to five Olympics as a reporter – from Beijing to Athens, from Torino to Salt Lake and London, too. And every time I've been swept up by the Olympic spirit and ideal. I've believed in it.

It's about bringing cultures together and watching the world mesh through years of hard work and sport. It's about getting to know other people and fighting along with them as much as against them. It's a bigger task this year than ever, and something we can really use.

Four more days and the Tokyo Olympics will be over. And maybe these Games have already been defined:

The Selfie Games, where athletes show that they have no understanding at all of the concept of other people. What a reversal that would be of the meaning of the Olympics.

Simone Biles walked off during the final round of the women's team gymnastics competition, saying the stress had played havoc with her mind. She just walked off, quit fighting, and left it to her teammates. She has been championed for it ever since.

Biles isn't the only one. On Saturday, Novak Djokovic, the Serbian who could be known as the greatest tennis player of all time by the end of next month, threw an outrageous temper tantrum while losing his bronze medal match. He smashed his racquet against the net post, then threw it into an open area of the stands. And then he withdrew from the mixed doubles bronze medal match.

Did he even think about Nina Stojanovic?

She was his mixed doubles partner and teammate. Did he think about her dreams and her Olympic spirit? Hah! He was still angry about losing his singles match. It was about his lost personal moment, his chance. He did claim it was because of multiple injuries.

Did Biles think of her teammates? She and Djokovic could be the GOATs of their sports, and they behave like this?

We've seen the ideal in flashes. American runner Isaiah Jewett and Nijel Amos of Botswana accidentally tripped each other in the 800 meters and fell to the track. They slowly got up, put arms around each and jogged to the finish line together.

On Tuesday, wrestler Tamyra Mensah-Stock won gold and then wrapped the American flag around her shoulders and talked roughly a million miles an hour through a smile about how much she loves representing America. She said she couldn't stop crying, and that they were "tears of joy.''

She stood in such stark contrast to Biles, Djokovic and tennis player Naomi Osaka, the faces of the Games who were all one big ball of stress and joylessness. Fortunately, they're all gone now.

The scary thought is that these aren't prima donnas. This is taught. And it's not even limited to athletes.

It's a cultural thing now, where parents teach their kids to get as much as they can and to focus on themselves.

In sports, parents turn kids into little professional athletes by the time they're, say, 4 years old. Their childhoods are stolen as they're groomed for a moment. They're taught to think only of their needs and wants.

I'm not saying that's exactly what happened with Biles, Djokovic and Osaka. I don't know. But it connects with today's athletes.

Today, kids grow up in a social media world, where they make "friends'' they never meet and try desperately for likes from people they actually don't know. They post pictures of themselves and focus on themselves.

And without actual human interaction, they don't learn a thing about empathy or emotional intelligence.

We train people to think about themselves and not others.

These are modern-day issues, and that could be how we have earned our first Selfie Games.

For the star athletes, the self-obsession is taken all the way to the top by a hype machine, bigger than ever, telling them how great they are.

The Olympics used to be the prime goal for athletes. With some of these superstars, it's just another event for the hype machine.

So Biles is pressured to improve on her perfection and built up behind a massive marketing campaign. Djokovic's handlers want to prove not only that he can win all four majors in the same year – something no man has done in 50 years -- but that he can win the gold medal, too, and be better than the all-time best.

And in women's tennis, Osaka was given $50 million in endorsements primarily to be another face of the Games. It was too much for her to handle.

She lost early in the Olympics. Biles barely competed. Djokovic didn't medal.

We had already determined who the champions are, already decided who the heroes will be, and paid them for it. Some of these athletes are too big for the Olympics.

The Games might be special to people like Mensah-Stock, and Jewett, Amos and Stojanovic. To the hyped-up superstars, do they mean anything more than another business trip?

So the question is whether the heart of the Olympics can still show through, dominate and define. The world needs that heart.

The clock is ticking. We have four days to find out.

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