The photo of Olympian Michael Phelps smoking marijuana has gotten the attention of the entire world. Although the media has made this out to be a huge scandal in sport, some wonder, is it really that big of a deal?The consensus around campus seems to be similar: so what?
“I think that he should have known better, but at the same time, he is 23 years old and missed out on much of his childhood. It doesn’t bother me at all,” said Castleton senior Jennifer Kleptz.
It’s not only the students that feel this way either. Phil Lamy, a professor of sociology at Castleton, thought that the media could have handled the situation better.
“They missed a great opportunity to have a good discussion about the role of marijuana in our society,” he said. “I would have loved for Michael Phelps to have said ‘yeah I smoke a little grass from time to time with my buddies and I don’t think there is anything wrong with that,'” Lamy added. “But, of course, the media, along with the obligations and expectations of his sponsors, forced him to apologize.”
But some people on campus have a slightly different opinion of the controversy.
“As an athlete, it is discouraging to me because I respected Michael Phelps and to see him do something like smoke pot makes me feel like he has not completely dedicated himself to his sport,” said Castleton sophomore Ralph Celestin, who is also a member of the men’s basketball team.
And some, like Matt Soroka, the Legal and Ethical Issues in Sport professor, wonder what this will do to the future of swimming.
“Swimming is an amateur sport, so the hope is it produces citizens and develops life skills and his actions counter that approach,” Soroka said.
But students seem to think the media and the public in general are fixating on the wrong issue with Phelps.
“It is stupid that the media is making a big deal about this. Many people don’t know that he got a DUI when he was 18. To me, that is much worse,” said Castleton junior Brianna Behmke.
Although the Olympic Committee tried to revoke his gold medals, the picture was deemed not sufficient evidence in the case. He was not pictured inhaling anything, so the medals stand and he is still considered by many to be the world’s greatest Olympian.