Dueling columns: Michael Phelps’ drug scandal

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    Phelps a poor role model

    Michael Phelps captivated the world with his performance in last summer’s Olympic Games in Beijing.

    After winning eight gold medals and setting seven world records, he returned home a hero, with more fame than any of us could possibly imagine.

    Sponsorships, a Sports Illustrated cover, a Saturday Night Live hosting opportunity and millions upon millions of adoring fans welcomed him back to our country.

    He had everything a 23-year-old could ever want. He could do no wrong.

    But because of one stupid mistake he made in the fall, Phelps has risked everything he worked so hard to earn.

    Smoking pot is not an issue for many people in our country. Millions of people do it.

    But seeing someone of his stature do it is a little jarring, and horribly disappointing.

    The man is an idol to people everywhere in this country, especially to children. There’s no telling how many little boys and girls have recently taken up swimming in hopes of one day becoming the next Michael Phelps.

    And for that reason alone, Phelps deserves to be dropped by all the companies who have matched their products with his name.

    What are parents supposed to say when their 7-year-old children ask them what pot is because they saw a story about their hero getting in trouble for it? That’s a question no parent should have to hear, or answer, from a child that young. People have enough problems these days.

    Phelps deserves to be made an example of. Far too often, athletes’ poor decisions are simply swept under the rug. That shouldn’t happen in this case.

    All professional athletes need to be more aware of their responsibilities. Not only to their fans of all ages, but to their teammates, coaches, owners and sponsors.

    It is because of all of these people – fans included – that athletes are paid millions and millions of dollars to play sports and live lives of leisure.

    Phelps’ golden-boy image has forever been tarnished – something no amount of gold medals can ever undo.

    Michael Carroll is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Coppell.

    Olympian’s offense overblown

    The world is in shock after a photo of Olympic great Michael Phelps was leaked over the weekend of the swimmer using a marijuana bong at the University of South Carolina last fall.

    People are wondering whether or not the man who captivated us during the Summer Olympics will still have his sponsorships or possibly face legal trouble.

    In my opinion this is a non-issue as far as money and legal issues go.

    Phelps is still by far the biggest name in the world of swimming, so Speedo would be committing business suicide if they let this big fish get away.

    As far as the possibility of legal issues goes, I think if South Carolina police officials were to have a chance to bust one of the biggest names of 2008, they would want to catch him in the act. Even then, I think he would have had a chance to wriggle off the hook.

    It was just some kid who snapped a picture because he couldn’t believe he was witnessing Phelps smoking pot. I don’t think that warrants legal action against the Olympian.

    Plus, he could always just pull a Bill Clinton and say he didn’t inhale.

    I am not going to argue whether the plant should be legal or not, but I think if musicians like Snoop Dogg, 311 and Bob Marley can expand their fame for using or encouraging the use of the substance, how can we judge an athlete who hasn’t been caught with anything.

    Plus, people tend to be fans of marijuana-related songs or movies, like Cheech and Chong or Pineapple Express, so this shouldn’t even blip the radar of most people.

    The only issue I see here is whether or not Phelps’ public image toward kids and parents is tarnished in any way.

    But I think Phelps did the right thing to nip this in the bud as quickly as possible.

    Billy Wessels is a senior news-editorial journalism major from Waxahachie.

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