Sunday, August 17, 2008
Now let us address the phenomenon of Michael Phelps. First let me make it quite clear that I am not criticizing this young man or his considerable accomplishments during the Olympics. Our country is proud to have such a hard working, determined young man represent our country in the Olympics. He seems like a fine young man. My problem is with the over the top coverage of him my our news media. I confess that I stopped watching TV coverage of the Olympics years ago when I realized that the US media basically only covered U S athletes. I also had a major problem with all the commercials. I used to love watching the Olympics, especially the live coverage. However, the constant chants of "USA! USA!" and the lack of coverage of the athletes of other countries caused me to lose interest. Another problem I have with the U S news media coverage is their habit of picking one of two U S athletes and build them up as the Second Coming. One hears the words "bravery, courage and hero" tossed around with so much abandon that those words have long ceased to lose their meaning in the context of Olympic coverage. Yesterday I read coverage about the aforementioned Mr. Phelps and how "brave" and "courageous" he was in obtaining gold medals for the U S. Give me a break. There is nothing brave or courageous at all about Phelps accomplishments. He worked very hard (five hours a day swimming) to gain his gold medals. Also, it helps that he has the body of a duck. Look at the cartoon I took out of the Washington Post yesterday. This cartoon drawing of Michael Phelps isn't too much of an exaggeration either. Phelps has a very long torso. He is 6'3" tall. I am also 6'3" tall. Phelps weighs 165 pounds. I weigh 159 pounds. Phelps inseam (leg length) is 30". Mine is 36"! The boy has short leg! His foot size is 14. Mine (and I thought I had big feet) is 12. The boy has flippers. His wing span is 6'7". I don't know what mine is but it isn't that wide. His hands hang 3 inches below his knees. My hands fall 3 inches short of my knees. Thus, Mr. Phelps was born with a built in physical advantage. Not to mention that his family circumstances afforded him the opportunity to spend most of his life in a pool swimming. I never entered a pool until I was 21 years old and in the Army. The first time I saw the ocean was when I was 22 years old. Am I jealous? Am I envious? You're damn right! I am riven with jealousy. I take nothing away from Michael Phelps. I wish him a long and happy life. But please, PLEASE, let us hear no more about how "courageous" and "brave" he is. There are many brave and courageous people in the world. Michael Phelps is no more or nor less than any of them. I fault our jingoistic new media. They would rather cover the fluff known as the Olympics rather than real issues in this world that involve brave and courageous people. And yes, I'm still jealous. Have you seen his hairline? I used to have one like that.