Monday, February 09, 2009
So Michael Phelps tried marijuana. Big deal. Millions of respectable Americans have smoked marijuana, including our President (who is undoubtedly not the first President to have inhaled, but is the first one to have honestly admitted it). Personally, I think it's a sign of intellectual curiosity. Michael Phelps is still a phenomenal athlete, with a well-earned triumphant Olympic performance, and by most accounts a nice guy to boot, so there's no reason we should stop regarding him with admiration. Moreover, he was admirable in the way he handled the situation, with a forthright honest admission (when many other people in the same situation might have tried to deny it) and an apology for his lapse of judgment. In my opinion, trying marijuana in itself was no lapse of judgment, but doing so while under contract as a role model probably was, since his actions included the risk of putting his sponsors in an awkward position. On the other hand, I think even role models should have some zone of privacy, and the ganef who sold that photo deserves to be sued for invasion of privacy. Kudos to Visa, Speedo, Omega, as well as the IOC, for standing by Phelps. Omega said it was "strongly committed" to its relationship with Phelps, calling his Beijing accomplishments "among the defining sporting achievements in the history of sport... The current story in the press involves Michael Phelps' private life and is, as far as Omega is concerned, a nonissue," the company said. That's exactly the right attitude. In shameful contrast, the sanctimonious santions from Kellogg (who dropped his sponsorship) and the USA Swimming team (who suspended him for three months) reflect poorly on them, not on Phelps. And that blowhard South Carolina sheriff who's making noises about pressing charges: what an ass.
Posted by Tom Chatt at 11:23 PM