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February 5, 2009 - Seth Staskey
I usually don't blog or write a column about too many national issues. The way I figure it is there are a lot more people in the media know about these issues than me who can cover the topic.
Anyhow, cutting to the chase, this Michael Phelps saga from this past week involving him smoking dope at a recent party in South Carolina has really gotten to me.
I understand the guy is 23 years old and has had a lot thrusted upon his shoulders in a short amount of time, but he needs to realize that he's no longer just a 23-year in terms of scrutiny and/or attention. His birth certificate says he is and I agree, but he's got to act like a man of much older in his actions. Every picture taken at public events is going to find its way to the media.
Michael Phelps is ultra-talented in the pool and that is the understatement of the century seeing he won nine gold medals, but when you do something like that your fame rises to another level. He's now looked up to by everyone who gets into the pool. For example, we at The Times Leader named two swimmers Athlete of the Week and both said their favorite athlete was Phelps.
It's a shame that this incident had to happen to a person who is looked up to by so many, but when you are looked up to by so many, you have to make sure these events don't happen.
I did appreciate Phelps' apology and thought it was sincere, but the fact of the matter is it shouldn't come to that. He already had a DUI on his resume, which most forgot about after Beijing, but now that's back in everyone's mind too.
I heard a great comment on a national talk show. Athletes get in trouble all of the time for far greater crimes, but they are often times forgotten based on their next performance. Take Kobe Bryant for instance. That guy went from squeaky clean to accused of rape back to squeaky clean again. However, the difference is Phelps has to wait three-and-a-half years before he will be back on the national stage.
Remember, athletes might not think the are role models, but simply put they are.
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