‘Let’s give Phelps a break’

USOC / McClatchy Tribune

As everyone knows, Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps’ reputation went up in smoke earlier this week when a picture of him taking a bong hit surfaced on the internet.

It appears that he won’t lose any endorsements over this one incident, but what intrigued me the most was the wide range of opinions that I heard about it — and everyone I talked to had one.

One person I talked to said he was crestfallen about his former hero, saying “Phelps should be stripped of every single medal he won.” Others seemed indifferent, saying “Phelps was old news anyway.” And some I talked to said it would actually help his career, even claiming that the incident would spice up his image, citing the painfully unfunny SNL he hosted in October.

There were plenty of jokes to be had. Fox News ran the headline, “Phelps Image Takes a Hit After Marijuana Photo Surfaces.” For conservatives, they sure seem to know the lingo.

Plenty of other jokes surfaced about water bongs. Slate Magazine ran an article which confirmed that, yes, Phelps’ enormous lungs did allow him to take Olympic-sized bong hits.

My dad called me up from Atlanta: “Hey son, I made a new joke: Michael Phelps used to be on the cover of Frosted Flakes, right? Looks like the flakes weren’t the only thing getting frosted!”

For all the serious implications and disappointment in his character, this story sure seems to have been a lot of fun for the national imagination. And I’m left to wonder, yet again, what exactly is so wrong with using the plant in the first place.

To put it another way, consider this: Michael Phelps issued a public apology about his marijuana use. President Clinton claimed that he didn’t inhale. Plaxico Burress shot himself in the leg.

Let’s give Phelps a break. He put something “special” in the brownies of a slow news week, and we should all be thankful for that.

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