Sunday, February 08, 2009

Watered-down apology

Last summer, a young man dived into the waters in Beijing and came out an international celebrity.
And then, mere months later, after multi-million dollar endorsement deals, Michael Phelps falls from his podium with the publication of a picture of him with his mouth, not set firm in a competitive stare, but set casually on a water bong.
Damage control had to begin faster than Phelp’s could swim the freestyle. Soon, the one who broke the record, went on the record saying, "I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment. I am 23 years old and despite the successes I've had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way…”
I had to stopped listening to the watered-down apology there. Shoving the word youthful into the mea culpa ruined it for me. It was slipped in there to suggest we read between the lines and understand: “Boys will be boys” and he’s not the only 23 year old to smoke pot.But isn’t he one of only a few 23 year old role models who have signed contracts that earn them millions of dollars? And somewhere in those contracts, aren’t there clauses about leading their lives in a way that is a good reflection on the company they represent? And isn’t marijuana still illegal?
As a high school teacher and mom, I know all too well that kids make bad decisions every day. Some are easily forgotten and forgiven, while other decisions are life changing. And somehow kids still aren’t understanding that every decision they make is only a fifteen second download on a digital camera away from being broadcast to everyone.
When a multi-million dollar role model attends a party and willingly partakes in an activity which he knows is illegal, and which he has to understand can and will be filmed by anyone and everyone around him, he’s dived into the deep end of poor judgment.
If Michael Phelps can admit he made a mistake without a disclaimer about his age and if he sincerely learns from this, I am sure his career will not be all washed up. I sincerely wish him well. Still there was nothing golden about his first apology attempt. As a mom concerned with her children looking up to him, I happen to think it was all wet.


Anonymous said...

You hit the nail on the head.We don't want him to suffer, but there have to be consequences.

Anonymous said...

It is time for these multi-million dollar idols to accept that there is more the receiving the money than past glories. Yes, Michael is young and subject to make poor judgment calls. However, he has been set "apart" and has a role to play. I hope he sincerely learns that every act has consequences and learn from it. I wish him well. Joan

Anonymous said...

I think there is a double standard with this issue. Drunk driving is illegal but MANY professional athletes and coaches have been arrested for this without any million dollar deals lost. I also find it odd that our new President has admitted to using numerous drugs in his youth and nobody seemed to care much about it at all. You can blame the media for this. Sorry to be political but it's true. Praise the new Prez but shame the swimmer? Give me a break.