Michael Phelps Busted Smoking Pot, Why Do We Care?

Oh boy. If you have not read, or heard, Olympic hero and Baltimore native Michael Phelps got caught for smoking pot in a photo, and now he’s saying sorry.

Olympic great Michael Phelps acknowledged “regrettable” behavior and “bad judgment” after a photo in a British newspaper Sunday showed him inhaling from a marijuana pipe.

In a statement released Sunday, the swimmer who won a record eight gold medals at the Beijing Games did not dispute the authenticity of the exclusive picture published Saturday by the tabloid News of the World.

“I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment,” Phelps said in the statement released by one of his agents. “I’m 23 years old and despite the successes I’ve had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public it will not happen again.”

News of the World said the picture was taken during a November house party while Phelps was visiting the University of South Carolina.

During that trip, he attended one of the school’s football games and received a big ovation when he was introduced to the crowd.

While the newspaper did not specifically allege that Phelps was smoking pot, it did say the pipe is generally used for that purpose and anonymously quoted a partygoer who said the Olympic champion was “out of control from the moment he got there.”

The U.S. Olympic Committee said it was “disappointed in the behavior recently exhibited by Michael Phelps,” who was selected the group’s sportsman of the year. He also was honored as AP male athlete of the year, and his feat in Beijing — breaking Mark Spitz’s 36-year-old record for most gold medals in an Olympics — was chosen as the top story of 2008.

“Michael is a role model, and he is well aware of the responsibilities and accountability that come with setting a positive example for others, particularly young people,” the USOC said in a statement. “In this instance, regrettably, he failed to fulfill those responsibilities.

Ok, his apology is all fine and well. Folks, we have to watch our “hero worship”, as we have honored, loved, made Michael Phelps a demigod and expect him to be above us along with the be perfect citizen.

It’s time for a reality check. Phelps is 23, a multi-millionaire, one of those most popular athletes out there and I guess he had a ‘human moment’.

Then he got caught on camera. The man is followed everywhere, you know.

I’m sure he went and issued this statement to not lose any endorsements, and save face; however, let’s see the forest from the trees here — he made a stupid mistake, but I don’t think it’s one that he should apologize up and down for it. He didn’t kill anyone, nor steal, nor beat a woman, so let’s all relax and put this episode to he just being stupid.

What Phelps does is amazing the pool, and it’s awesome he’s been able to make a name for himself thanks to his natural talents; however, I don’t see him anything else as than athlete — he’s not a role model or someone we shoould emulate just for the sake of it.

Actors and actresses act dumb all the time, but yet we excuse their mistakes. I wonder why we sometimes don’t do the same for athletes.

In the meantime, we should stop trying to glorify athletes as special people, warriors, or god and goddeses just for the fact they participate in a game or a sport.