Pubdate: Sun, 22 Feb 2009
Source: Augusta Chronicle, The (GA)
Copyright: 2009 The Augusta Chronicle
Author: Chance Fulford


As most Americans, I too shared in the adulation dispensed to Michael
Phelps in the Summer Olympics in Beijing. The infamous bong photo,
upon which the media have fervently dwelled, supposedly has tarnished
that adulation, as well as, I'm told, betrayed the trust of all his

I concede that Phelps' status allocates a burdensome measure of
personal liability upon his actions, yet the outcry of disgruntled
fans is more a reaction to their illusory and idyllic expectations
being burnt away in the bong. With most the American population having
never overcome the death of Bambi's mother, it's not surprising that
Phelps may no longer be a viable endorsement option.

The relative ease under which a significant portion of Americans live
has fueled the need for protection from complexities and the deifying
of the simple. The problem for these fans is that reality is a series
of complexities that results in much worse atrocities than the death
of Bambi's mother. These disgruntled fans -- the most fervent of which
are the sycophantic sports writers in search of a host -- lack
perspective because their fantasies require the humanizing of their
created deities. Thus, the incongruence between fantasy and reality is
necessarily unavoidable for those unwilling to burden themselves with
the possibility of real failure.

Contrary to my tone, I don't blame Walt Disney for Phelps' plight, yet
I do contend the attention garnered by the photo is absurd. Phelps'
alleged action betrays no one but himself. The true adulation given
wasn't to honor Phelps' achievement, so much as it was recognition of
Phelps' decision to devote his life to a disciplined pursuit of a
man's limits. No one will ever be able to tarnish that devotion, not
even Michael Phelps.

Chance Fulford

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