Phelps’s Mishap

Growing up as a swimmer, I learned about Michael Phelps early on. I was never really a fan of Phelps (I was more of a Ryan Lochte girl) until about two years ago. I began to realize the dedication and commitment he put into the sport. And as a mediocre athlete myself, I quickly began to admire his talent and perseverance. My initial reaction to this 8 medal Olympian swimmer’s bong picture was disappointment. But when I took a step back I realized everyone takes a hit every now and then.

In an ESPN article Phelps said, “I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment,” Phelps said in the statement released by one of his agents. “I’m 23 years old and despite the successes I’ve had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again.” He made a public apology and appears to have learned from his mistake. While many of his Olympic friends chose to stick buy him and accept the apology, not all of his sponsors did. AT&T Inc. and PowerBar nutrition bar makers Nestle SA, quietly ended their relationships with Phelps at the end of 2008. Neither company commented on the photo or describes the duration or their contracts.

Gossip columns all over the world are eating up the story of Phelps’s bong picture taken at a house party in North Carolina during Nov. 2008. This is the news of the week and it’s aggravating me. Writers all over the web are shocked and amused by his actions. Pictures have been posted all over the Internet. But where are the pictures of all the other people who were, no doubt, participating with him?  Sure, he’s an Olympic marvel and recently his fame has skyrocketed. But realistically, most athletes are probably inhaling from a similar glass structure. They just aren’t getting caught. Unfortunately, Phelps must have burned the brain cells that would have provided him with the common sense to not smoke weed at a residential party with people he might not have even known. Was his action disappointing to fans? Yes. Surprising? Not really.

Let’s face it the guy is inhuman when it comes to training and racing. After reading his book No Limits, with Alan Abrahamson, I received a mere glimpse of what real athletic training is. Practicing 550 times a year, including birthdays and holidays, is no bundle of joy. And after four years of this intense training for Beijing, Phelps was able to take a break for a few months. In one of his interviews with Sports Illustrated he described himself as “not a party guy,” especially since his DUI in 2004 and has reportedly never failed a drug test. Phelps was stated saying he had no interest in typical after hour activities. And really, how can he be a party animal? I’ve begun feeling angry toward the gossip columnists who are making it sound as though this is habit for him. Phelps stated in his book that during training season swimmers don’t have much of a life outside the pool. Eat, swim, eat again, nap, eat more and swim. And being an ex-competitive swimmer I can vouch for that statement. Phelps is 23 years old and wanted to have a little fun while he was off training. Are we really going to sit here and condemn him for that? He made a mistake and he owned up to it. I’m not saying what he did wasn’t a mistake because I believe it was. But it’s time to face this beautiful thing called “reality.” Human beings smoke weed from time to time. And regardless of whether or not Phelps is famous, outside of training, he’s human.











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