My View | Sanford D. Horn


Phelps Faux Pot

From the pool to pot, Olympic gold medal winner and Towson, nativeMichael Phelps should probably sign on to endorse potato chips or ding dongs. His recent activities may finally explain his 8,000-plus caloric intake on a daily basis.

Its a joke, sort of, but its really not funny. What is truly not funny is the lack of outcry from the companies with which Phelps has an association. Hopefully the companies for which Phelps shills had enough brains to require him to sign a contract that included a morals clause, and if so, it should be enforced.

At age 23, and if Dara Torres is any example, Phelps could very well compete in four more Olympiad. Whether he wants to be or not, he is a role model and as one has a social responsibility to be mindful of the fact that numerous eyes are always going to be on him. This in no way excludes Phelps from having a life, but breaking the law is another story. His recent marijuana-smoking escapade in South Carolina could cost him up to $570 and 30 days in the gray-bar hotel a penalty that should be fully enforced to the maximum. And if it costs him some endorsements, hopefully that will fall under the category of lesson learned.

I have nothing against Michael Phelps; I have never met the young man and I did in fact enjoy watching him break record after record this past summer in Beijing. That said, he should not get a pass because he is a celebrity. In fact, it is because of his celebrity that Phelps should suffer the most severe of penalties. Yes, there is a double standard admittedly so. That may not be right, but it is a fact. As a role model who has many admirers, Phelps has a responsibility to carry himself in such a dignified manner to set a positive example to those who do look up to him. Young people should not get the idea that if an Olympic hero can smoke dope that they can as well. Its called dope for a reason.

Former NBA star Charles Barkley has repeatedly said both during and after his playing days that he does not want to be anyones role model that the role models should be parents and teachers. Well, in theory Barkley is absolutely right, but unfortunately, nobody is plunking down $100 to watch me teach an American History class. So, as long as peoples priorities are backwards, those gifted few who have athletic, cinematic, theatric and musical talent should remember their social and moral obligations while they are reaping their great rewards from those who watch their every move and hang on their every word. Fame and adulation are short and fleeting. They should be treasured and treated as a gift from God. Those who have those gifts should not be ingrates.

Sanford D. Horn is a writer and political consultant living in Alexandria.