Much has been said about Michael Phelps’ marijuana episode. Unfortunately way more than it should have been. Maybe more attention was given to it than to his historic 8 gold medals in the last Olympic games. And it should not have been like this.
It is time for the media and for people in general put hypocrisy aside and face facts with a little more courage. Phelps is a 23 year old kid, who is already more successful and more financially independent than many of us will ever be. The legal aspect of his action is not up to discussion here, first because experts should do it, and second because it has been the least intense approach this case has undertaken. Sadly, people and media seem to be more interested in the moral side of the story.
It should be common sense that any person has the right to live their personal lives privately, including the famous. The idea that professional athletes should be role models for kids should have been long forgotten by now. Great former basketball player Charles Barkley could not have been more right when he said, years ago, that professional athletes are no role models. Being a role model should be a parents’ job. That is absolutely right. No bad example from outside can overcome whatever behavior is taught and shown to kids at home. Parents should not lose perspective of their responsibilities and pass the burden forward to people they don’t even know.
Phelps was in a party, having fun with friends, as millions of other young people do every day. He had all the right in the world to be there. He was taking a deserved break, after all the training and pressure he must have gone through in order to have that kind of success in Beijing. The life of an athlete requires more renunciation than most of all other life styles out there.
In my opinion, he should have never apologized to the public. Once again, I will not comment on any responsibility he eventually has with justice, but definitely there was no room for public apology, as he did absolutely nothing to people in general. The only person he eventually hurt was himself, as the drug he used can’t even be considered a performance enhancer. As a matter of fact it obviously decreases performance.
It is not fair to overshadow Michael Phelps’ accomplishments as a top athlete by such an insignificant happening. When the US Olympic swimming team needed him, he didn’t disappoint anybody, on the contrary. Maybe we should worry more about the person who took that picture and sold it to the tabloid that published it. He or she is in fact a bad character, and an example not to be followed.