I have never been able to jump on the Michael Phelps bandwagon, and after this weeks past events I finally feel justified. It isn’t that I don’t recognize Phelps’ phenomenal abilities in the pool, I just never wavered from the belief that he was, in fact, human. Not much good ever comes from putting anyone high up on a pedestal (especially if said person is as young as Phelps), because as an adoring public we will inevitably suffer a let down.
So, it has come to pass, Michael Phelps was caught – on camera – smoking pot and has since been suffering the fallout: a 3 month suspension by USA Swimming, and a release from his endorsement contracts with both Kellogs and Subway. Many of his other endorsement deals are still on track, but this is an undeniable blow to the Michael Phelps fan-base.
Many (including some of his sponsors) have come to his defense. It’s true, Phelps is hardly the first 23 year old to get high, but he does deserve the criticism garnered for his actions. By signing on to various endorsement deals and positioning himself as a role model and “all-American hero” to millions of children he needs to accept the responsibility that goes along with that. Phelps could have receded into society after the Beijing games, and gone back to being an average citizen. Instead, he decided on a different path, and thus agreed to the unspoken terms that his actions would have to live up to a higher standard.
Furthermore, this is not Phelps’ first transgression. He has slipped up before; obtaining a DUI in 2004 and being photographed with strippers earlier this year. String the 3 together and Phelps looks more like a frat boy and less like a fish. Michael Phelps may be king of the pool, but on land – he’s just an average guy.