Swimmer Michael Phelps said he is reconsidering whether to compete in the 2012 London Olympics following a barrage of criticism over a tabloid photo showing him smoking from a marijuana pipe. “If I decide to walk away,” Phelps told the Baltimore Sun, “I’ll decide to walk away on my own terms.” (Baltimore Sun)
What the commentators said
Phelps can probably get through this, said Jamie Samuelsen in the Detroit Free-Press. We’re a forgiving nation, and Phelps has confessed and apologized. But his next chance at generating any significant positive publicity for himself is 2012—so if he wants to hold onto his fans, and the checks from his sponsors, he’d better shape up and hope that “negative public reaction” doesn’t swell.
If Phelps’ career starts going into flames over the pot scandal, said The Women on the Web blog, his best bet is to stay in the pool. He has described his workouts as “therapeutic” and grounding. And the more fans see and hear about his swimming, the more they think of his record-breaking gold-medal haul in Beijing, and the less they think of him as just another superstar gone wrong.
The Phelps case isn’t a lesson in the excesses of celebrities, said Jason Whitlock in Fox Sports, or about the racial double-standard that sends black people to jail for drug crimes and let’s white suspects walk. It’s just one more argument for decriminalizing marijuana. “If Michael Phelps just can't say no, why would we expect kids with far more depressing circumstances to avoid getting high?”