February 3rd, 2009
08:20 AM ET

Big Bong Theory

Sally Jenkins
The Washington Post

So Michael Phelps dove headfirst into the bong water. Is anyone really surprised, after all those laps? There has always been something submerged and escapist about the world's greatest swimmer. When presented with a chamber containing a hazy translucent liquid, he did what's become second nature to him. He buried his face in it.

I'm just sorry I wasn't at that University of South Carolina house party to witness Squid Boy's binge firsthand - not that I would ever make such a staggering misstep myself.


soundoff (16 Responses)
  1. NMW

    I am blown away by the number of people who support marijuana use. It is illegal–done deal! You've got issues if you need to argue this point. Get a life! Michael Phelps will HARDLY be a gateway for its legalization. If you choose to be in the spotlight, then live up to the expectations that go along with it. He obviously knows what he did was wrong–if he thought it was OK he'd stand by what he did instead of begging for our forgiveness and making foolish promises. That's the point–he IS a kid. It was silly to use him to represent well-established companies, especially when he had already messed up in 2004. Phelps doesn't impress me at all nor do the companies who stand by him. And for the person who sarcastically stated that we should stop following our favorite atheletes, musicians, actors, etc because of their irresponsible actions–well as long as I don't see PICTURES of them doing it, I have no problem with them. However, my family HAS banished many famous people from our fave list just because of this same thing,including all the young female idiot celebrities, Michael Vick, Marion Jones,etc. We don't buy their products, watch their movies, or listen to their music. We will do the same for this punk.

    February 3, 2009 at 11:49 pm |
  2. Sam Johnson


    I am surprised that you compared smoking pot to gun play. That's like comparing running a stop light to murder...sure they are both illegal, but can you see that one is worse than the other? Phelps is human, not some shinning light that you urge your children to be like. He has and will continue to make mistakes. He is a kid for heavens sake. Kids will be kids. We all learn from making mistakes. I don't think that anyone thinks braking the law is ok...we are just taking into account the nature of the crime. Smoking pot is NOT that big of a deal...although it is still illegal...for now. I bet legalizing pot would bring us out of this recession.

    February 3, 2009 at 9:12 pm |
  3. Annie Kate

    There is lots worse he could have done. I doubt that given his training schedule that he has had much time for growing up. Give it a rest and let him spread his wings a little – it seems overdue for him to have a little bit of time just to be Michael.

    February 3, 2009 at 3:00 pm |
  4. Marilyn

    I think I represent a whole lot of people when I say I couldn't care less that Michael was caught smoking ... something. For goodness sake, let the kid have some fun! He shouldn't have to apologize for blowing off some steam! The person who took the photograph and then shared it should apologize. That was just pure jealousy in action. And if his sponsors pull out ... well, maybe they ought to try training and training and swimming and working so hard to win all those events.

    Marilyn, CT

    February 3, 2009 at 2:40 pm |
  5. William of Iowa

    Growing old is a given – growing up is an option.

    February 3, 2009 at 1:31 pm |
  6. Cheryl

    Seems to me we're missing the point here. I don't see this as a debate on whether marijuana should be legalized or not, or whether everyone has tried pot or not. Michael Phelps was touted as the next great hope for a role model for kids and adults alike. He battles ADHD and wins–he takes on the world and wins–he's everybody's posterboy for hard work and perseverence. What the problem is here is that with one photograph he has wiped all that out. Sure, he still won 8 gold medals, but the star isn't shining quite so brightly. It's sad to realize, by everyone's comments here, that we no longer need or want our role models to be truly that–a "little" illegal drug use is okay? That's like saying a "little" gun violation is okay, or a "little" dog fighting is okay. Don't get me wrong, I think Michael Phelps is probably the greatest athlete to come our way in a long, long time. It's just too bad that now his name will have that dreaded asterisk after it when he's listed as such.

    February 3, 2009 at 1:18 pm |
  7. Heather,ca

    What he did from a legal point of view was wrong. What he did from a young adult point of view was trying to fit in. What he did from an Olympic Athlete point of view was irresponsible . However, his gold medals were earned through the direct result of hard work and discipline. Not pot or steroids. His coach kept him on a tight strict schedule. Yes what he did was stupid and irresponsible. I think he needs to realize that he not only represents his country,but the olympics and all the companies whom he signed contracts with who said we want your image representing us. Yeah its not fair at 23 or 24 to have all this responsibility on his shoulders. Im sure he would much rather keep attending all the parties he has been invited to. But his image goes beyond his gold medals and his swimming abilities. He conduct is just as important. When he signed all those contracts he made business deals. He is now a businessman. He needs to realize that. I let the pot thing go. It was stupid. He has to grow up thats all. The pot in no way has anything to do with earning gold medals. But when you are representing all these companies, your conduct and behavior directly reflects on them. Its business. I hope he moves past all of this and does well.

    February 3, 2009 at 1:16 pm |
  8. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    Marijuana is self-punishing. It makes you acutely sensitive, and in this world, what worse punishment could there be?

    February 3, 2009 at 1:16 pm |

    Give it a rest. It's waaay past time to legalize marijuana. What a waste of both money and manpower in arresting and or prosecuting people for smoking pot. Just think of how it would piss the Mexican drug cartels off if we legalized it and sold it in stores. I think many people would give up the hard stuff if they could smoke pot legally. As far as the situation with Michael Phelps goes, keep in mind that he is only 23. At that age, he should be allowed to make a mistake; especially one as minor as this. I hope his success will continue because I never cared about the Olympic swimming events until he came on the scene. Media, please don't sensationalize this one. Move on!!!!

    February 3, 2009 at 12:41 pm |
  10. karen

    if hanna montanna was caught smoking everyone would be all over this thing and it would be a big deal.if he smokes the stuff how did he pass the drug test before he raced

    February 3, 2009 at 12:37 pm |
  11. Brenda Brooks

    Well... Michael Phelps was caught using drugs! He also caught DUI!When Kobe Bryant, Marian Jones, NFL player Vicks was caught their endorsements were taken away. Well... the same should go for Michael Phelps. He won his gold medals fairly and should keep them. But his endoresements should be stripped. We have to stop taking the use of drugs lightly. Our young children are looking at these atheltics and they should be held accountable Let's not compare him to entertainers let's compare him to other professional atheltics. If we do, he desire the same punishment as Kobe Bryant, Marian Jones and Vick when their endoresments were taken away.

    February 3, 2009 at 12:34 pm |
  12. Sam Johnson

    Come on you guys...he is only 23 years old. Who hasn't tried pot in their younger years (don't answer that...rhetorical question). If you actually do the research you will find that the effects of marijuana are less harmful thatn alcohol. As a matter of fact, if you ingest it rather than smoke it, it's really not bad for you at all. It is illegal, and that is a shame...stupid really.

    February 3, 2009 at 12:14 pm |
  13. John Baker

    It's time to stop persecuting people who use marijuana. It,s illegal only because of ignorance of its effects.

    February 3, 2009 at 12:05 pm |
  14. Michael "C" Lorton, Virginia

    We're given a code to live our lives by. We don't always follow it, but it's still there.

    February 3, 2009 at 11:17 am |
  15. sean brizendine

    our president admitted using drugs, now 8 time gold medal winner michael phelps gets caught smoking pot , come on america just admit it we have lost the war on drugs


    February 3, 2009 at 11:07 am |
  16. Cindy

    I can't believe that the media is making such a big deal out of Phelps being caught smoking a bong. It's not really! I mean doing any drug in my opinion is stupid and wrong but seeing that many celebs have been caught doing way worse drugs Phelps' little mishap is nothing in the big scheme of things. The other celebs weren't hurt any by what they did and I am sure that Phelps won't be either.

    He is young, immature and naive...he'll out grow that and not make these mistakes anymore. Everyone got into a bit of trouble at his age. No biggie!


    February 3, 2009 at 10:44 am |