Monday, February 9, 2009

"With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility"

This is a quote that we all know and should understand. Let us break this down even further: What is power? What is responsibility? What does Responsible mean? How does this resounding statement relate to one Michael Phelps?

Power is defined as the ability to act; the capability of doing or accomplishing something.

Responsibility is defined as the state or fact of being responsible.

Being Responsible means being answerable or accountable for something within one's power, control, or management.

That last part - Being Responsible -brings us closer to Michael Phelps. Phelps is someone that dazzled and captured both the imagination and attention of a good fraction of the world by winning 8 gold medals at the Beijing Olympics. Such a phenomenal achievement has won him a combination of fame, fortune and, notoriety. It has also afforded him with "Great Power" (or the belief of having great power) for a young man. Enough power to garner a world-wide following and support; as well as very lucrative endorsements. Just how pervasive are these endorsements? reported that Phelps made over $5 million dollars at Beijing by winning 6 medals and also made over $1million dollars from Speedo (since he donated a $1million dollars in bonus money from Speedo, he had to have made over a $1million dollars in the deal). He was estimated to be making anywhere between $30-50Million dollars from endorsements alone. Now that is power.

Still, this only tells part of the story. Another part is that Phelps has been cashing in on his new found fame, fortune and notoriety. He has not been one to shy away from the spotlight and attention that his success has afforded him. His lifestyle since winning at Beijing has been one of a jetsetting, youthful, global icon - and unrelenting in that regards. He has been a guest at many major events all over America and has been sighted keeping company of celebrities. He even won himself an endorsement deal with Kellogg's. There is no doubt that he has mass appeal. However what has been in doubt has been how responsible is Michael Phelps, the man. Where does his moral compass point? Nothing is free in this world that we live in and, as my own parents would say, all fingers are not the same size. There is an inherent responsibility that comes with all the success, the fame, fortune and notoriety. There is also an inherent grace and gratefulness that comes with achieving such an amazing athletic feat at the Olympics. People now look to Phelps for direction; they want to know how he won 8 medals, they want to know who his coaches are, where he grew up, what he eats, who he dates - anything that makes him the man that is able to win 8 medals at the Olympics and rise to prosperity. We live in a copycat world. Everyone wants to be a Michael Phelps - the success story. It is up to Phelps to remind/show us that not everyone can win 8 Gold Medals but there are other things we can do that are just as valuable. There are other qualities that are admirable in a person - the most rewarding of which is helping each other. This task is the price Phelps has to pay for cashing in on his new found glory.

Phelps is a great swimmer and a great athlete. His ability to win 8 medals at the Beijing Olympics is something that will stand in history for the rest of time as we know it. a person, as a global icon, as someone with fame, fortune and, notoriety, Phelps is a disgrace and a great disappointment. The revelation of his alleged recreational activity (pictured below) is a great loss and disappointment. The greatest tragedy is that he does not have enough good works to counter this revelation. We do not have his charitable work as testament of his great character. There are not enough people to show off his strong work ethic in the pool or his work(s) to help those that are less priviledged. There is nothing but spin, talk and gossip. It is truly a sad trend today that the youth no longer aspire to the hard work and responsibility that goes with being successful but continue to be deluded by the less than glamourous, and perverse, livestyle of irresponsible role models. In this case, with great power comes great irresponsibility.

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