Archive for Monday, February 16, 2009


Swimmer Michael Phelps used bad judgment, again, and has to face the music.

February 16, 2009


At 23, Michael Phelps is one of the richest and most acclaimed young athletes this nation has produced. He was an incomparable swimmer in two Olympic Games and only the past summer won an unprecedented eight gold medals at one Olympics. He now has 14 Olympic golds and a lot of money because of his feats.

With such worldwide attention, admiration and wealth comes intense public scrutiny, and Phelps has had far more of that lately than he would prefer. He should have had better sense than to smoke marijuana in a situation where cell phone cameras and other communications devices were a dime a dozen. Phelps was caught apparently “imbibing” and the photo has been broadly circulated.

Bottom line, Phelps did a stupid thing and should be expected to pay whatever penalties accrue. He has apologized but he nonetheless was suspended from competitive swimming for three months and lost a lucrative endorsement contract with the Kellogg cereal firm. Admirers hope he has learned a vital lesson and that his “role model” status can soon be restored.

This is not the first indiscretion for Phelps. He’s had at least one illegal dealing with liquor in the past. Many say he’s only human and young and should not be dealt with too harshly. So far, the consequences of his behavior don’t seem overly harsh.

Contrition and admission will help his cause and if the famed swimmer stays out of future trouble and shows the kind of judgment that keeps him out of the public eye when he strays, all well and good. He needs to, for lack of a better term, “grow up,” the faster the better.

One of the most ludicrous consequences of the Phelps case is that so many advocates of marijuana use have surged to support the swimmer and have only succeeded in refocusing on his case and prolonging the media attention. Now, groups like Marijuana Policy Project are trying to make Kellogg the villain by promoting a boycott of Kellogg products, and contending that Phelps’ earlier innocent beer-drinking also could have caused a fatal accident.

Kellogg made no immediate reply and is wasting its time if it does. As for critics’ contention that pot is no more dangerous than beer, that makes little sense. Both can lead to lethal consequences. Kellogg should be praised rather than criticized for sending the proper message that the company won’t condone such behavior.

Phelps did a dumb thing, again, and had to realize there would be consequences. He is being penalized in various ways, including derision in the court of public opinion, and he should be. With glory and wealth come scrutiny and high expectations.


llama726 9 years, 2 months ago

The last time any other 23 year old smoked pot, it did not cost them millions of dollars and 24/7 media coverage attempting to embarrass and belittle him. Alex Rodriguez cheats, but a 23 year old swimmer smokes a substance that 1 of every 3 Americans has used and you needed to write an editorial.

This is an absolutely terrible editorial. First of all, I understand if it is a slow news day and you don't have something more relevant to discuss, but why beat the dead horse NOW?

How about this little gem? "Phelps did a stupid thing and should be expected to pay whatever penalties accrue."

Way to take a stand! "He r stoopid and shud pay monie"

Well done, Journal-World. "Whatever penalties accrue?" What if we give him jail time? Does he deserve that? Are you gonna join the cacophony of people asking he give back his medals?

Look, I'd be fine with this feigned B.S. outrage if the man had operated a vehicle while under the influence. As it stands, he had some fun at a party and I STILL DON'T CARE. The more you guys print garbage like this, the farther you push most of us away from your viewpoint since it's been out there forever. Leave the man alone.

PS - where was this article when Chalmers got caught with weed in his room?

llama726 9 years, 2 months ago

No joke, Larry. There are greater problems in our society, but our newsmedia wants to work us into a frenzy about this.

Scott Tichenor 9 years, 2 months ago

The collective wisdom displayed in this column is the reason I dropped by subscription to the paper several weeks back. I won't be back. I come now only for the entertainment.

llama726 9 years, 2 months ago

"As for critics’ contention that pot is no more dangerous than beer, that makes little sense."

Great statement, except you offer no support whatsoever for it other than saying "BOTH ARE BAD." Good work.

Kornphlake 9 years, 2 months ago

Urinal World strikes again. This is Lawrence, we don't care if he was smoking pot.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 2 months ago

The hype machine giveth, and the hype machine taketh away. The fees paid to celebrities for endorsements are completely ridiculous. So while Phelps's transgressions are so minor as to not even warrant press attention, he violated the rules of the celebrity game (of the squeaky clean variety, anyway,) and is now paying the price.

satar 9 years, 2 months ago

come on. He has won how many gold medals? I think that he deserves a " water pipe hit"

Tony Kisner 9 years, 2 months ago

Bozo I love that you keep beating the drum.

I agree Phelps exploited the weaker swimmers for his own gain. In a more perfect world dictated to us by Bozo swimmers like Phelps would be taxed with heavy weights to make it more equitable to the slower swimmers thus all would be able to receive the riches and fame which follow the games.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 9 years, 2 months ago

"Bozo I love that you keep beating the drum."

What drum is that? Also, what true economic benefit does anyone gain from one swimmer swimming faster than another? Comparing performance in sports, or any other form of entertainment, with basic economic activities is just silly.

Connacht 9 years, 2 months ago

This is my favorite sentence in this editorial:

"As for critics’ contention that pot is no more dangerous than beer, that makes little sense. Both can lead to lethal consequences."

In the same sentence, the OP disagrees and agrees that both marijuana and alcohol are capable of leading to lethal consequences.

Don't you love how all these studies on marijuana are all just guesses? Marijuana "might" cause problems, it "might" lead to bad things. And for some reason, that "might" is enough to ban the substance while tobacco and alcohol kill far more people. Lets face it, fatty foods kill more people directly than marijuana, which, no matter what else it does to a person, will never actually kill them.

As long as alcohol and tobacco are legal products, there are no grounds for arguing against the legalization of marijuana.

TheResignation00 9 years, 2 months ago

Barry, please look up further information on the negative effects of alcohol while you're at it. Then please compare.

flux 9 years, 2 months ago

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus comment # 11,620

Chris Ogle 9 years, 2 months ago

flux gets 1st place, with barry a close second., easy winning 3rd by less than a bozo post. As usual Bozo showed up with a hand out.

bad_dog 9 years, 2 months ago

"A number of studies have shown an association between chronic marijuana use and increased rates of anxiety, depression, suicidal ideation, and schizophrenia."

The above symptoms pretty much sum up Republican behavior since the Nixon administration.

Hmmm. Who'd have thunk it?

bearded_gnome 9 years, 2 months ago

shallow, weak, poorly written editorial.

so is the editorial saying: if phelps is going to be a role model, he just shouldn't get caught re the cameraphone environment ref?

is the editorial saying phelps shouldn't hit the booze/pot at all, if so then please say it directly!

how do you know when a monkey has a psychotic break with reality? you can't ask him/her LOL!

Connacht 9 years, 2 months ago

"But, just because booze sucks does that mean its ok to smoke dope? Weird reasoning Resignation"

The reasoning, which I think is pretty obvious, comes down to the issue of legality. Alcohol has far more disastrous effects than marijuana, but it's perfectly legal, whereas marijuana is not.

Why outlaw one and keep the other legal?

llama726 9 years, 2 months ago

Legalize it, tax it. Congratulations, deficit solved.

The_Sandwichman 9 years, 2 months ago

It's not a big deal really, people screw up, sometimes many times. It's not like they're going to take away his medals, so who really cares? I don't think you should smoke pot, or drink, but I'm not going to condemn those that do, because it's just one of those things that people do, even if you don't.

verity 9 years, 2 months ago

Alcohol causes stupidity.

Marijuana causes silliness.

There's a lot of both on there boards. Hm-m-mm.

bangaranggerg 9 years, 2 months ago

Was this editorial another one of those elementary school kid writing exercises? Those actually seemed a bit more coherent. Chalk it up to deadlines I guess.

Hoots 9 years, 2 months ago

I can't imagine having that much money and attention at such a young age. I'm not giving him a pass but all he is dealing with would make most people's head spin. I know it sounds like a good problem to have but it has to have its pitfalls. I'd like to be rich but not famous. I would never want to live in the small fish bowl he does.

bearded_gnome 9 years, 2 months ago

booze, pot, which causes more typos among anonymous posters?

Oops, meant on these boards.

hey, LJWorld, next time you're tempted to publish an editorial like this, call me, and in 30-minutes I can whip up one that's clearer and more definite.

sustainabilitysister 9 years, 2 months ago

A friend of mine told me he was disappointed in Phelps and I asked why. He stated he remembered when an olympic snowboarder was 'outed' for smoking pot and he simply admitted it stating, no big deal, that's part of the snowboarding culture. Then my friend stated that he thought High Times should give him millions of dollars as an endorsement to become the next spokesperson for the legalization of this harmless weed. I agree. I hope Phelps changes his tune and becomes an educator and advocate for the legalization of marijuana and we can stop this nonsense! Legalize it! and to the Simon's... come on

RedwoodCoast 9 years, 2 months ago

I'll say again here that I would seriously question the objectivity of any health reports regarding marijuana that are cited or published by our government. Our government's stance on the plant is that it has a high potential for abuse and absolutely no medical benefits. Marijuana is a Schedule I drug, whereas cocaine is a Schedule II. Schedule II means that it has a high potential for abuse and may have some medical benefits. So our government's official position is that marijuana is more undesirable than cocaine.


I also would like to point out that many who have cited statistics on this thread regarding an alleged causation between pot use and particular physical and mental health problems might not have that solid of ground upon which to take this stand. What we do not know beyond a reasonable doubt regarding the findings of these "studies" is whether pot is truly causative. As it is, they can only state that there seems to be a correlation between pot use and some specific health problems. Granted, inhaling smoke of any burning material is a bad idea, but I'm not sold on the idea that pot is somehow more dangerous than cocaine. This is one of the many problems with drug policy and social justice in our country.

Richard Heckler 9 years, 2 months ago

Take the crime out Decrimialize Make Grow Your Own Legal Let smokers out of jail Find better use of jail cells - lock up BUSHCO Hemp Flooring Hemp Bath Robes Hemp Purses Hemp Granola Hemp Rope Hemp shirts Hemp Underwear How much longer will hemp industry revenue be elsewhere

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