America Gets Nosy and Watches Hero Fall

Erin Ennis

Over the summer, Americans across the country watched as Michael Phelps beat the record for most gold medals won in swimming at an Olympic games. He quickly became the highlighted player on the American team and was watched, admired, and revered by the American people. He was our summer poster child and everyone seemed to love him.

Then last week, everything changed. Photos of Phelps smoking pot at a summer party surfaced and the love we had shared for him quickly vanished. He began to lose sponsorships, was banned from certain swimming events and was denied his grant money from the American Swimming Association. While all of these things are certainly important, most are more symbolic and have caused Phelps to reconsider swimming in the 2010 Olympic games.

I am sick of hearing about celebrities being plastered all over the news for problems that deserve to stay in their own homes. Yes, Phelps smoked pot at a party. Yes, he probably made one of the biggest mistakes of his life. But quite frankly, it was his mistake to make, not the American people’s business or concern. If any normal person in today’s society was caught smoking pot at 22, they would probably receive a slap on the wrist, some community service hours, and a strong talking to from their parents.

Now I am not saying that celebrities do not deserved to get punished for their actions. Everyone deserves punishment for breaking the law and I am a stern supporter of fair treatment. But when Jane Doe at the University of New Haven gets a DUI, no one else hears about it but her and her family. It is kept under wraps because that is the “polite” thing to do. Where does being “polite” come into play for celebrities like Michael Phelps and others who have minor mishaps?

Some may argue that Michael Phelps is a role model and, as such, should have been more responsible. In ways I agree, but mostly, I see Michael Phelps as a 22-year-old man who happened to get lucky in his life and receive phenomenal swimming genes. The man never asked to be a role model and, when he leaves the Olympic games, he just wants to be a normal human being again. Why can’t Americans just allow the man to have his good days and his bad pot-filled ones? Why do Americans need to butt into everyone else’s business?

In the long run, it really comes down to one thing: no one really cares that Michael Phelps was smoking pot. Or that Nicole Ritchie had a DUI. Or that Britney Spears did, well, whatever Britney is doing this month. When it comes to celebrities, Americans just enjoy being nosy. They enjoy hearing about other people’s mistakes although they sure would not enjoy being in the same situation. So, really, let Michael Phelps face his marijuana problem on his own and flip to another section of the newspaper.

-Erin Ennis, Staff Writer