It was announced a few days ago that Kellogg, one of Phelps’s most prominent sponsors, was not renewing its contract with the record-setting swim machine. The reason for this is one innocent hit of a bong at a party on a night off for the 23 year old aquaman. It is amazing how one moment caught in time can say so much so quickly these days! So this must be what whoever invented it meant when he/she said, “a picture tells a thousand words”. In that one party, in that one room, with that one friend who must have offered Phelps the bong, and in that one singular moment when Phelps put mouth to bong, somebody snapped a picture and the world went mad. There was no way that Phelps could have known that that one picture would end up costing him a three month suspension from competitive swimming as well as millions of dollars that he was scheduled to receive from Kellogg, who were in the habit of putting Phelps’s visage on their cereal boxes. As I wrote earlier in this space, the outcry did not fit the wrongdoing. Fast forward to now, and the punishment does not fit the crime.
First of all, I am not alone in this. Rosie Dimanno of The Toronto Star writes:
Yes, cannabis is a controlled substance. But medical journals show that more than 40 per cent of Americans have tried marijuana at least once, including former U.S. President Bill Clinton. It’s the antiquarian law that needs correcting, not the behaviour of 100 million Americans.
A rival agent to Mr. Phelps had this to say:
Enough is enough. The penalty is far greater than the crime. He has said he is sorry.Let’s move on to the real problems in this country.
Moreover, giving somebody more free time is clearly not the best way to deter his weed smoking habits. Stoners live for free time! A suspension may have had the intention of giving him time to ruminate, contemplate, and mull over all the “horrific” misdeeds that he comitted, most notably the bong hit, which is something that the majority of 23 year olds do anyway. But the best way to avoid a repeat incident is to keep the young guy busy in the pool. At this point, he is safer in it than out of it.
Unless of course he succeeds in building some supreme aqua bong with an olympic sized swimming pool and say a pasta strainer. His sponsors may leave him but he would probably get some extra cash after High Times asks him to pose for the cover, along with a spike in his street cred.