Michael Phelps Should Face Consequences of Smoking Pot
Filed under: Opinions
Michael Phelps, the Olympic gold medal record holder and all around wunderkind, may have disqualified himself for the 2012 games after photos surfaced this weekend of him smoking a bong at a South Carolina college house party last November. With millions of endorsement dollars on the line, the British tabloid that broke the story claims that the swimmer's representatives offered them an "extraordinary deal" to not print the story. But after the paper turned them down and printed the pictures anyway, the 23 year old issued an apology, promising that this "youthful and inappropriate behavior" would "never happen again."
Truthfully, I really empathize with Phelps. I was only 22 years old myself when I was cast on The Real World and I remember the embarrassing sting of seeing myself drinking on TV. (It doesn't get any easier. I still can't watch it!)
Certainly, this incident does not diminish Phelps' athletic talent – it is unquestionable. He won a record eight gold medals and no one can take that away from him. But the apology and the alleged deal his reps tried to strike with the tabloid paper is not about the medals or his records (he won them fair and square). It's about the $4 million he earned last year in endorsements and the millions more he stands to lose as a result of his now tarnished image.
So the question is, should his sponsors walk? I say, yes! There should be consequences for bad behavior and if you are a star athlete, some of them will be financial. As a parent and consumer, I would resent any company or corporation that normalized any illegal behavior. It simply sends the wrong message to kids.
Ironically, just last week, as part of their Catholic Schools Week celebration, students at my kid's school were encouraged to dress as their favorite sports star. Several first grade boys, including my son, came as Michael Phelps. And herein lies the problem. Whether we like it or not, little boys will always look up to sports stars. And that is why I support the corporate practice of financially rewarding only those who actually live up to that honor.
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