Phelps must act like a role model
My school paper, the "Bi-College News," came out yesterday, with an article about Michael Phelps and the photos of him with a bong.
You’ve probably read something about it. The gist of the story is: Phelps went to a party at the University of South Carolina. A few moths later, pictures surfaced of him using a marijuana pipe, more commonly known as a bong. Phelps apologized and stated that he acted immaturely.
Anyway, the article in my school paper argued that Phelps did what college students do: make mistakes.
Here’s the quote from Anders Hulleberg (Haverford College 2010), “On Thursday, February 12, I got higher than Creed. On Saturday, February 14, I did something irresponsible with a freshman girl. And on Sunday, February 15, I went on with my life.
I actually didn’t do the first two, but let’s say that I did. And let’s say that I plan to do it all again this weekend. For some of you, this shouldn’t be too hard to imagine.”
He’s right. Some college students spend Saturday nights getting high and Sunday afternoons doing homework.
Then Newsweek ran a similar story saying, “Here's what usually happens to a college kid who's caught with a small stash of marijuana: the police give him a good scare, let him stew in a cell for a few hours and make him take a class on the evils of drugs. If he keeps out of trouble for six months, the record is wiped clean. In most college towns, the police don't even bother to go after weekend smokers (dealers are another story). If cops chased down every kid who took a bong hit at a frat party, the jails would be full and the lecture halls empty.”
Clearly, it contrasts this to Phelps.
I have to say up until reading these two pieces, I was not at all sympathetic to Phelps. I’m still not incredibly sympathetic. When he was in a DUI a few years back, I figured it was a stupid mistake. That was sympathy.
Now, not so much. Right or wrong, Phelps is held to a higher standard. He’s a role model to thousands of kids across the country. And it's time for him to start acting like it.
A blockbuster movie (name it and you get to chose a topic) says, “With great power comes great responsibility.” Phelps has tremendous power — in the pool, in the advertising ring, etc.—and with that comes the tremendous responsibility of acting like a role model.
Maybe that’s not fair. Maybe he should be able to make a mistake without getting his face splashed everywhere with a bong. But that’s not the life he leads.
Let me know what you think.