Monday, February 09, 2009

Phelpsian Standards

“But aren’t you just a little disappointed in Phelps?” Kate said.

I had just finished explaining to Kate that in the big scheme of things, Phelps taking a hit of marijuana is not a big deal.

“Yeah, I guess I am.” I answered, but added, “But now I am more angered with the media. They obsess over stories like this, acting like it is all over for Phelps and that he can no longer be an inspiration for millions of athletes across the globe. They act like this one incident overshadows his accomplishments.”

Our society is obsessed with the magnification of flaws. We like to feel good about ourselves when reporting that this superstar athlete or that movie star slipped up and took a hit from that bong or punched a photographer. That’s all that this Phelps story is about. We like to say that we wouldn’t do something like that if we were in his position. Maybe we wouldn’t, but the truth is, we don’t know what it’s like for him. Some of us, who think we wouldn’t cave, would crater under the pressure and temptation.

When someone is at the top of their game we apply standards to them that are more fit for a god. We expect perfection. That way, when they fall, we are justified in our criticisms of them. Our name-calling is justified. Our essays, dressed in scholarly diction in order to disguise the author’s true motivation, are justified. In a sick way, talking about someone else’s grand mistake makes us feel better about our own. We will go a long way to pat ourselves on the back.

I don’t encourage making mistakes. I don’t endorse marijuana. But Phelps was the man before this. He still is.

1 comment:

Christopher said...

I miss you a lot my friend, my brother. Expect a call on Thursday. You are great.