Another interesting view on Michael Phelps and marijuana, this one from the South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Dave Hyde:
Michael Phelps was photographed taking a marijuana bong hit, and the corporate sponsors almost immediately backed him. Columnists defended him. The public reaction has been, "Move along, people, nothing's going on here."
Maybe we've learned as a sports world from past overreactions, realized good people make poor judgments or reached some measure of humanity in sports regarding some issues in this renaissance year of 2009? Maybe we've arrived?
Probably, though, it's just this: Phelps is the tokin' white.
"Watch what happens," a black columnist said at the Super Bowl when this news story came out. "Watch how this one plays out."
The suggestion was that the Olympic hero, the latest Mr. America, the swimmer of eight gold medals, would receive just what he has: A few tsk-tsks on the national stage. A slap of his chlorinated hands. But nothing more.
. . .
Why did Phelps get a pass where other, blacker athletes haven't?
It's the societal imbalance of it all. As well as the hypocritical image-making, considering Phelps did anti-drug messages from the Olympics. . . .
There are differences in every individual case, sure. Take Ricky [Williams]. Much of the outrage against him and his drug use was camouflaged outrage. The anger wasn't over him using marijuana. It was the fact the NFL suspended such people and so his drug use affected winning and losing and, therefore, whether Joe Fan was happy or sad on Sunday.
Swimming, by comparison, is an individual sport that mainstream America only cares about every four years. So Phelps doesn't bring any anger on this level, just like golfer John Daly never does with all his crises. If Phelps (like Daly) illegally medicates himself, well, he's only punishing himself.
. . .
In the same news cycle of Phelps' photo, Santonio Holmes became the Super Bowl's Most Valuable Player. Holmes came from the hope-starved streets of Belle Glade and admitted seeing two career paths: catching footballs or selling drugs.
He even sold drugs as a kid. And now catches footballs as a man. That's a story involving drugs that speaks of strength, humanity and beating all odds.
Phelps? He's just a college-aged kid smoking dope.
To repeat: I believe Phelps is contrite. I believe he should be afforded the ability to make mistakes without being hammered. And, yes, "Sports has worse issues than Phelps' dopey behavior."
But would everyone say that if Phelps wore dreadlocks?
Tags: Dave Hyde, Michael Phelps