So by now everyone has heard that Michael Phelps was caught smoking pot. As you can imagine, this has caused a big disturbance around the sports world especially in the U.S. How could have someone so great and famous let us down? It can absolutely be traced back to the insane media hype that surrounded Phelps in the months since his historical feat at the Beijing Olympics. This raises another question. Should media continue to always glamorize every athlete who pulls off an amazing feat or should they focus on better heroes? And would it lead to less of an uproar around the sports world when something of this nature occurs
Clearly the news was shocking and it led USA swimming to suspend him for three months. There has been some support from fellow Olympians including silver medalist Darra Torres.* Though he has gotten support from fellow swimmers, Kellogg Co. announced that their contract with Phelps would not be renewed.** And rightly so, companies should not endorse people who present themselves in a bad light. With this major letdown someone has to take the blame and punishment.
Even though some blame goes to Phelps, a bulk of it should go to the media as well. They totally overhyped him and should be accountable for some of the flack that is occurring. A lot of people fell in love with Phelps and as a consequence were heart broken when this news came out. This isn’t the first time that something like this has taken place. I am sure all of us can recall what happened in 1998. Everybody was caught up in the home run frenzy that was put on display by Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa. The media made a huge to do over it, but then we found out Sammy corked his bat and McGwire did not want to take an oath saying he never took steroids. I, being a lifelong Cardinals fan, was devastated and didn’t know what to think. The news literally put me and a whole school of other fans in a virtual limbo as to who we could trust. It was brutal but luckily I overcame my abhorrent experience and still follow the Cardinals on a regular basis without becoming a diehard fan of a single player.
With this in mind the media could truly benefit if they would not throw all the focus on one or two players but on a whole slew of players. This would cut down on major let downs such as Phelps and bring a welcome change that would see other lesser known stars reach the news for their accomplishments. The media could do what I have done and focus on the small guys in sports like David Eckstein and Aaron Miles whose accomplishments I have come to recognize whether on or off the field. They should also realize there are other heroes besides those in the sports realm.
In fact the heroes outside the sports realm have a bigger impact on society on an everyday basis than most big shot athletes in pro sports have on society in a lifetime. To name one, there was the pilot Capt. Sullenberger who saved over one hundred fifty passengers when the playing he was flying malfunctioned and landed in the Hudson River. Others who need more respect are those who prove their bravery every day to protect our homeland weather they be soldiers who risk their lives fighting in the army, police officers who patrol the streets to make sure we stay safe, or fire fighters who on a daily basis save civilians from deadly fires at the risk of their own life. These are real heroes who deserve much more honor than people who continually let us down and have little impact on society.
The media by now will hopefully learn its lesson and make it a priority to not pay insane homage to big shot athletes, to recognize the accomplishments of less popular athletes, and pay respect to heroes who put their lives on the line and have a higher impact on society.
* http://msn.foxsports.com/other/story/9186634/USA-Swimming-suspends-Phelps-for-3-months?MSNHPHMA Fox Sports
** http://www.usatoday.com/sports/olympics/2009-02-05-phelps-kellogg_N.htm?loc=interstitialskip Usatoday.com