Michael Phelps Rant

Dear citizens media of the United States,

Michael Phelps doesn’t owe you a damn thing. He doesn’t owe you/us/anybody another gold medal or an explanation about “what happened”. Stop using words like “disaster” and “disappointing” to describe anything he does or doesn’t do at the Olympics.

Ditto for every other athlete competing there in every other sport.

Ditto for every other athlete competing at any other level.

I swim, but I’m not really a swimmer. My longest workouts of an 18 week triathlon training plan are about what real swimmers–even the ones who are a long way from being Olympic athletes-do as a warmup before their main set. And I go about half their speed.

And they do this daily.

At 4:00 am.

And again at 4:00 pm.

For years.

With no real off-season.

What these athletes do is nothing like the trip to the gym that most of us take to “work out”. They aren’t chatting with friends between sets, listening to a 10 song playlist and calling it quits, or watching “Saved By The Bell” reruns on the screen of the cross trainer while they work to the point of almost sweating. I’ve had swimmers who weren’t even D1 level tell me their stories about swimming through their teammates’ vomit floating on the surface of the pool and having their goggles fill with tears from the pain they were suffering during training.

During the cycling road race, I heard one of the commentators mention an East German training tactic of putting a cyclist on the trainer in front of a concrete wall and having them ride for hours looking at nothing, just to build mental toughness. How mentally tough do you have to be to spend all your training staring at a black line on the bottom of a pool?

So, in closing, get off the guy’s ass. He’s been staring at the bottom of a pool for 20 years. So what if he wanted to coast into this Olympics with (relatively) little training and just enjoy the experience of being there and have some fun? He’s done this long enough to know he’ll get what he earned, and that’s something he has to come to terms with on his own (*UPDATE* Coach Vance points this out better than I did after Phelps’ post-race interview). ┬áHe’s smart enough to know that he isn’t going to be the best in the world for the next 300 years either.

He doesn’t have to answer to anyone but himself.

The second we see swimmers jump into the pool and splash around like idiots instead of actually trying to win a race, it will be time to complain. Until then, anyone who is “disappointed” when watching (from their sofas or broadcast chairs) any of these athletes’ performances should hit the off button, get up , and go do something about it themselves.

Rinse and repeat for NFL, NBA, MLB, NCAA sports, and all little league competition.

</rant>

 

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