I had a whole bunch of stuff to write about but this subject just bubbled up and I’m going with it. Like a lot of the world, we’ve been watching the Olympics lately. I’m not thrilled at NBC’s coverage, showing the “popular” sports and leaving a lot of them obscure (WHERE are the equestrian events???), but as you might imagine, I’m quite fond of the swimming competitions. I dream of being in that water–not competing, just being in those amazing pools of cool, clear, perfect blue water. I love the undewater cameras, I love watching the long trails of exhaled bubbles from the swimmers’ lungs left behind them in their wakes. I love how perfect their bodies are, men and women, how they just merge with the water and become one with it. I can smell the chlorine all the way from London.
Here’s what I’m not liking so much–all the ragging on Michael Phelps. I’m going to say it right now.
LEAVE HIM THE HELL ALONE.
Do you have a CLUE what it is that he’s done in his competitive career? He’s 27 years old, younger than my daughter, so I’m feeling a bit maternal here. He’s a young man with more drive and focus and talent in his kick turn than most people have anywhere inside them–ever. So maybe he isn’t carried away by the “thrill” of the hunt for more medals. Maybe he’d like to see the London that lies outside the Olympic village, that’s not in front of a camera with one more sportscaster asking him the same damn question over and over and over. Maybe he’d like people to realize he’s not a machine and even at 27 and being in better shape than about 99.9% of the entire world, that the body and the mind and the spirit sometimes just. get. tired. Maybe he’d just like to be a guy and not a franchise. Ya think?
I know everyone’s sharing these little cards and cartoons and sayings around the internet and they’re supposed to be “funny.” They’re not. I know they probably don’t think the word will get back to Mr. Phelps. Trust me, you have to know it has. I only trained a little bit for nine months and no one had their hearts set on me to “win” anything when I went to SF. I did the whole thing for myself and myself only. I cannot imagine what it would be like to have all those expectations on my shoulders. Of course, he swims because he loves it and he’s good at it, but at some point the weight of others’s needs and desires has got to be heavier than the pressure at the bottom of that pool. Let him be. Win or lose, he’s one of the greatest champions the world will ever see. He doesn’t need to win one more race, stand on one more podium or answer one more stupid sportscaster’s “how do you feel” question. The rest of you are just damn jealous.
Now back to your regularly scheduled grumpiness.