Feb 6, 2009
Give the kid a break.
Poor Michael Phelps has discovered that fame comes with a price. We like our Olympic heroes to be squeaky clean. We like to keep the illusion that maybe they really did descend from Mt. Olympus to grace us with their presence.
We had to let this illusion go for most of our professional sports as we’ve seen a parade of scandalous behavior from the best of the best in baseball, football and basketball. So we stubbornly cling to the notion that our Olympic athletes are somehow different.
Now, I’ve known for a while that he is no angel. My daughter happened to attend U of M with Michael and although she doesn’t know him personally she did know of his reputation on campus as being a womanizer with a big ego. Not surprising for a relatively handsome young man who finds himself on the cover of Sports Illustrated at such a young age.
The way in which he has handled this mess is textbook. Admit you made a mistake and that you’ve learned your lesson and want to move on. But Michael underestimated the damage to his reputation. When your pedestal is so high it’s a mighty big distance when you fall off of it. He was handed a three month suspension from the USA swim team and Kellogg’s will not renew his contract set to expire this February. According to the report I heard this morning “Parents are outraged.” Well I’m a parent and I didn’t get to vote. I’m not outraged.
More outrageous to me is that somebody Michael thought he could trust snapped that picture and then decided to sell it to earn a little cash. That person has more to be ashamed about than Michael Phelps. But my opinion about this whole thing is slightly skewed because I believe marijuana should be legal. I have seen alcohol cause much more devastation to a family than marijuana ever will. Pot doesn’t tend to make you mean but I have met some very nice people who turn violent when drunk.
I hope this whole thing blows over quickly for his sake. Maybe there’s another “football player / dog fighting ring leader” story that’s about to break. Or maybe the God-like Tiger Woods will do something shocking. Nah, not Tiger, he’d never.