Unless you’ve been hiding underneath a rock this week, you know that a picture of U.S. Olympian Michael Phelps smoking pot has surfaced recently, casting a huge spotlight on the athlete.
The picture was taken when Phelps was in Columbia, South Carolina, where my school is located, evoking many reactions among students.
The majority of students at South Carolina agree that the issue was blown way out of proportion, a stance that I totally agree with. To prove my case: in a poll on my school newspaper’s website, 78 percent of almost 550 viewers said they did not care that Phelps smoked pot.
Though Phelps is an athlete and is a role model for many children in the nation because of his skills in the swimming pool, most of us knew he wasn’t that great of a role model outside of the pool before these allegations started. Phelps has had a blatant track record with DUIs and most of us in Columbia weren’t surprised when the news broke.
I was practically harassed by a certain publication in New York that was dying to get some information.
Our local newspaper blew up a huge picture of Phelps for its Tuesday edition. The embarrassingly large picture took up almost two-thirds of its front page, a display which I thought was extremely inappropriate.
The issue was blown out of proportion. Phelps apologized publicly for the picture as soon as humanly possible and that should have been the end of the story.
I don’t think Phelps should be punished with more than a slap on the wrist, because let’s face it…he’s just a twenty-something-year-old. He was just trying to kick back and have a good time, something that most of us can relate to.
Even though I’ve never smoked pot and am very much against its use, I was not upset by Phelps’s actions. The reality of the situation is that many people our age experiment with this illegal substance, and Phelps happened to be one of the unlucky ones who got caught.