America’s young heartthrob Olympic swimming gold medalist Michael Phelps was caught with bong in hand. When I first came across the image it made me laugh and reminded me of my youth. Yes, I am a former pot smoker just like Michael Phelps although it is unclear whether Michael Phelps pot smoking days are done. My feelings on the situation are mixed.
On one hand I am aggravated that Michael Phelps smoking pot will probably get him a slap on the wrist. With money comes freedom to make mistakes and issue quick apologies to the public eye. This is what seems to be happening in the case of Phelps marijuana usage. Michael Phelps told the Toronto Sun “I engaged in behaviour which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment.” He then goes on to state his young age and how even though he is a gold medalist that he acted in a youthful and inappropriate manner.
However on the other hand I feel sympathy for Michael Phelps and his pot smoking endeavor. He is just a huge celebrity figure now that any thing he does is going to be criticized down to the excruciating last detail. Perhaps my sympathy comes from my own marijuana smoking days or maybe it is the way I view what the media does to young celebrities.
There are 2 main reasons why I feel Michael Phelps caught smoking pot should be a big deal. The first reason is that he is an Olympic athlete. He earned that title after going through drug testing for performance enhancement drugs just like everyone else participating in Olympic events. He chose to put himself in a position as a role model to young Olympic hopefuls. Marijuana is most definitely not a performance enhancing drug thus I am quite positive he earned the medals drug free. On the other hand Marion Jones turned in her medals when she was busted using cocaine. Although I think the drugs are much different I think both Olympic Athletes have a position to uphold about being drug free even after their medals are won.
The second reason is that pot is illegal in the United States. As much as I am for the legalization of marijuana it is still illegal to use and be caught with. He was caught blatantly taking a hit from the bong on a college campus during a party. If this had happened anywhere where the use of pot is legal, which there are many around the world, it would be no big deal that Michael Phelps was caught with bong in hand. Alas, he wasn’t. We are left aghast at his actions yet we forget that he is only human.
Michael Phelps made a mistake. He is young. He probably can be stupid and he probably wants to test the limits that his celebrity status has given him. We can only speculate at what his reasoning for smoking pot was but in any case the deed has been done. Now we will wait to see how Phelps places himself back in the public eye.
Michael Phelps Apology for Smoking Pot
Huffington Post on Michael Phelps Bong Photo