many of you have read or heard about the recent flap with Michael
Phelps after a photo of him with abong surfaced. Phelps ended up
issuing a big apology for his actions, and as learned more about
this I couldn't help thinking that this seemed an awful lot of
attention over something pretty stupid. Then I read this
article today and decided to post some thoughts on it.
In some ways, this all goes back to the whole 'role model athlete'
idea. Those who make it big in professional sports are supposed to
be 'role models' for kids, or some nonsense like that. I've always
thought this was a pretty silly notion, pointing to a famous
athlete and saying, "Now Johnny, be like him!"
Sure, there's a good reason to point to someone successful and tell
your kid to strive for that, but isn't the idea of the 'role model
athlete' a bit much? Are you really sure that having your child
think he can be Michael Jordan is a good thing? The problem with
many of the finer examples of athleticism is that they're so rare.
For every Michael Phelps you have a Dennis Rodman, for every
Michael Jordan a John Rocker.
Barack Obama, on the other hand, makes sense as a person to try to
emulate. It's highly unlikely you'll be President, but the effort
to get there will still put you ahead in life. Studying, working
hard, community service...all good things to be a part of. Trying
to be a pro football player, though? Well, hope you don't blow that
knee or be driven so hard in a school practice that you die. And
even if you work really
really hard, without the natural gifts most top athletes
have, you probably won't make it.
I'm not saying I'm against sports, they can be great socializing
activities and they do contribute to a pursuit of excellence. What
I am saying is that we need to stop making these people out to be
above the rest of us in anything other than what's on the playing
field (or swimming pool.) Michael Phelps, the top gold
winning Olympian of all
time, should not have to apologize for smoking pot. It's his
life, let him do what he wants.