The Highest and Lowest of Times
A controversial image of Olympic champion Michael Phelps using a bong recently circulated around several news outlets – with the usual talking heads and political pundits weighing in on both sides. Everyone used this incident as a vehicle to launch policy on both sides of the debate, with some calling for increased drug enforcement laws, while others calling for a complete legalization of marijuana.
Think what you may about this situation but, no matter which side you’re coming from, you can certainly agree with me on this: Americans need to chill out. All the news we receive these days is driven by 24-hour news networks, full of political commentators who are so artful at crafting a silk purse for a sow’s ear – they could spend an hour verbally cogitating their naval, and it would sound like legitimate political discourse. We, as consumers of the news need to understand this, and always put things into perspective when we hear these overly-sensationalized reports. That’s how a single image, of a 23 year old at a college party goofing around, has caused so much polarization and debate.
Don’t get me wrong, Michael Phelps is a role model to kids, and people everywhere. Being a person of public stature, Phelps needs to be more accountable for his actions than normal citizens, regardless of how the public views his behavior. More importantly than being a role model, Phelps is a representative of many great things. He represents men’s swimming, athletics in general, the Olympic Games, and the United States of America. Because he is a de facto representative to so many people for so many things, he needs to hold himself to high moral and ethical standards.
While what Phelps did was wrong, the amount of controversy this has caused is obscene. This isn’t the first time we’ve seen something like this happen. Michael Phelps is in good company as a world-class athlete who used or has used...