February 2nd, 2009
03:16 PM ET

Michael Phelps’ Pot Photo: When Kids’ Heroes Fall

Sue Shellenbarger
The Wall Street Journal

The now-famous photo published yesterday, showing Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps inhaling from a marijuana pipe, raises a thorny question about parenting in a celebrity-obsessed age: What do you do when your kids’ beloved idols become fallen heroes?

Mr. Phelps’ transgression, and his acknowledgment of poor judgment, is certain to rock the worlds of the legions of youthful swimmers who dream of emulating him. Mr. Phelps has had to apologize publicly before, after pleading guilty in 2004 to a drunken driving charge. But that screwup was less widely noticed, because he hadn’t yet broken Mark Spitz’s record for winning the most gold medals at an Olympics.


soundoff (11 Responses)
  1. Sergio R.

    Michael Phelps should break negative barriers regarding marijuana since it is a natural product of Mother Earth. This gift of earth can be the solution to many problems.

    February 3, 2009 at 1:49 am |
  2. Gracia R.

    Give the kid a break.! He's young and made a mistake but I hope he's not going to have to pay for that one mistake. Kids can still look up to him after all he's accomplished

    February 2, 2009 at 11:09 pm |
  3. Annie Kate

    Such a fuss over a marijuana smoke when so many athletes use steroids. Lets get some perspective.

    February 2, 2009 at 10:01 pm |
  4. Janine from PA.

    I'm surprised he would want to ingest anything into his lungs, they need to be pure and clear to propel him in the water. But he may also need something to calm him with the stress of competing on him. Not making excuses for him but just trying to understand.

    February 2, 2009 at 5:38 pm |
  5. Shannon Anderson

    Thank you, Michael Phelps. No apologies necessary. You are a hero to the millions of Americans who live healthy lives and use marijuana responsibly.

    Marijuana does not lower motivation. It is not, as our government states, a drug for "losers."

    Articles attempting to smear Mr. Phelps' name and accomplishments are rhetoric and propaganda to hide the truth–that you can smoke marijuana and still be an active participant in society. You can even, in fact, be a winner.

    February 2, 2009 at 4:56 pm |
  6. Emma

    Fallen heroes? For smoking marijuana? Not in the Netherlands where I live, and they (the Dutch) have less drug addicts than else where...

    February 2, 2009 at 4:24 pm |
  7. Cori

    How sad that so many kids look up to him. I can't imagine what his mother said to him after all this surfaced. When the world questioned whether or not he was a "clean" athlete wasn't even thinkable, but we were wrong. And although pot may not help his performance, the fact of the matter is that he does drugs. How long has this been going on? I doubt this was his "first" time. I would pull his endoresements, he doesn't deserve the spotlight, or to be a role model. I'm so dissapointed, and so are our kids. What a shame.

    February 2, 2009 at 4:11 pm |
  8. Keith

    The most dangerous thing about pot is that it is illegal. Temperance movements create havoc in every society, and this is but one of many examples. Some people believe addiction or abstinence are the only options, that there is no middle ground. We should regulate pot like booze, especially since pot if far less harmful than alcohol or tobacco. Selling pot in liquor stores or allowing people to grow their own would break the grip drug cartels have on the border and our national forests, and stop the tabloid sleeze campaigns.

    February 2, 2009 at 4:10 pm |
  9. Larry Pinell

    Jeez, almost every young person has a toot now and then. It's just not that big a deal. Kids need a reality check too!

    February 2, 2009 at 3:57 pm |
  10. Cindy

    Hey..nobody is perfect! Everyone makes mistakes every once in a while so give Phelps a break! He's young and worked most of his life trying to attain his goal of going to the Olympics and winning. He never had a normal life so of course now he may experiment a bit. He'll learn from it and move on...we all do.


    February 2, 2009 at 3:38 pm |
  11. Betty Ann, Nacogdoches,TX

    Oh ya da ya da. Pot is just not that bad. In moderation it is healthy. Alcohol is not. marijuana should be legal. Hard alcohol should be illegal.
    Leave Plelps alone!

    February 2, 2009 at 3:23 pm |