Saturday, February 07, 2009

Drop It, Already!

USA Swimming has suspended Olympic champion swimmer Michael Phelps for three months over taking a bong hit during a house party in South Carolina in November.

There. He got punished. OK? All right? Happy? Now shut up. Zip it. Stifle it, Edith.

So he took a hit of doobie—so what? Small potatoes, in the bigger picture. Ty Cobb was the biggest racist asshole in our proud nation (until Archie Bunker), and people still lionize him. He has a salad named after him, for Christ’s sakes. And let’s not even get started on Jew-basher Charles Lindbergh. But some things get a free skate.

Throughout history, we've idealized our national icons, turning them into santized versions of who we want them to be, forgetting, or perhaps ignoring, that that's not who they really are. This is especially true of athletes, whose ability to inspire us is based solely on their physical prowess. What else goes on in their lives or minds? Well, we don't care and we don't want to know. We just want them to go win for us. Then, once we've used them up and they display their clay feet, we knock them off their pedestals and demand fresh blood from the next unlucky host. There’s just no pleasing us, is there?

Kellogg foods says that it will not renew its endorsement deal with Phelps when it expires at the end of February, citing that Michael’s actions are “not consistent with the image of Kellogg.” They do have a point: when we think of Kellogg’s, we should think of chemicals, food additives and mouse droppings, not some kid taking a hit of Mary Jane. What will the children think?

I think my favorite part of the story was his coach Bob Bowman’s quote that Phelps is “certainly not in very good shape.”

Yeah. I’d hate to be in that lousy a shape.

7 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Oh No! What did Mikey do? Did he say the N word or call a guy a f*ggot? Was he on LSD at the Olympics? Could he have taken steriods like every other baseball and every football player? No he took a hit of Maui Woowie. It is legal medicine in some states. Maybe he is undergoing Chemo? As my people say, "Don't judge a man until you have walked a mile in his moccassins". ed

5:09 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I think that's the problem--people see kids like Michael Phelps as extraordinarily blessed, so in their point of view, they can NEVER walk the same mile in the same moccasins. There's an element of resentment and jealousy in peoples' glee...they forget the hard training, sacrifice and loss of a normal childhood.

Ironically, Phelps was doing something that, while not exactly "normal," is certainly not unheard of among college kids--they love to experiment!

10:35 AM  
Blogger American Girl said...

I wish he'd handled it how Madonna handle the nude photos coming out in the 80s. She said, "I don't care." Done with story.

Did you see Seth Myers on SNL last night go off about this? It's worth catching if NBC still allows Americans to see clips ('cause they've cut us off up here).

12:09 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

I did not see Seth Myers last night...I'll try to find it on YouTube.

1:05 PM  
Blogger Stephen Rader said...

Amen, Brother Aaron! We Americans love to place athletes and actors high above us on a rickety pedestal just so we can knock them off and watch them crash to the ground. And then snicker at them as they try to stand up and finally, we praise them again for their "come back."

I think Phelps shouldn't have even acknowledged the story. Or that Phelps had said what John McCain said when reporters asked him about the alleged "Bomb Iran" song scandal - - "Get a life."

11:09 PM  
Blogger ayem8y said...

When interviewing people I secretly decide whether they get the job if they smoke pot. It’s really the only requirement all the other stuff is nonsense. Oh except talent.

10:45 PM  
Blogger Aaron said...

Stephen: Sarah made that point also, and it's a good one. I think if Phelps were a few years older, he'd say, "So what?" Right now, he's still got lots of competitive years ahead of him and lots of potential sponsors to please. It's a kind of livery, really. I wouldn't want it.

Ayem8ey: I like your relaxed standards--can we wear jeans to work?! ;-)

12:04 PM  

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