Regardless of popular belief, ESPN and other major news networks are not always on point, after watching days of networks getting the story wrong time and time again, I felt the need to set a few things straight and bring light on the situation from a South Carolina student's perspective.
After getting angry at myself for not knowing I was standing next to Phelps on Halloween night, I made sure I would get to see him again. I found out the next day that a special guest speaker would be talking to one of our Sports & Entertainment classes that I had already taken, and I put two and two together.
The next day I snuck into the class so I could get an official meet and greet with a man who just walked away from Beijing with a record eight gold medals. As I sat there anxiously as time passed, there was still no guest speaker.
The teacher then announced that our speaker was leaving a video game shoot in New York early on a private jet to make it in time to speak to our class. Confusion then filled the entire class as many had projected it would be Phelps coming but why in the world would he leave Columbia go back up north then come back for just a class?
Well the guy you have seen on TV all week being ridiculed for taking a minute out of his crazy life to get away from everything did just that. That's the first thing that spoke to me about his character without him saying a word.
He motivated all of us by first telling us how he got to where he is at followed by reaping the benefits which for him included SNL, the Grammies, and having friends like Ray Lewis, Kobe Bryant, and LeBron James.
To have the most famous athlete of my generation be as humble as he was really caught me off guard; the answers to our questions were as down to earth as you can get, it felt like we were talking to one of our everyday peers.
I will never forget the look on his face when I came up to him after class to shake his hand; I could tell he was stunned that all I wanted to do was meet him. And that was the final straw for me to realize that yes, the greatest Olympian of all time is just like anyone of us.
My mission seemed to be complete but after recent pictures of Phelps brought horrific scrutiny to his name, I now can see how famous people do get the bad wrap by not only the media but also "haters" out there looking for financial gain.
Today I wanted to jump through the television screen as I watched Rome is Burning; one of Jim's ignorant guests debated with another guest that Phelps' situation was worse then A-Rod's because, "he should've known better."
He stated that Phelps should've known that there were going to be cameras and cellphones at a frat party. First of all it wasn't a frat party, and second there was a strict guest list in which everyone on that list were not allowed to bring cameras or take any photos of such kind with their cellphones.
Everyone invited was a close friend of the home owner in which he felt more then confident that his request and requirements would be met.
To even state that Phelps' bong hit was worse than A-Hole, I mean A-Rod, admitting to using steroids, is one of the reason's why I sit there and wonder where ESPN gets their people.
Next we get to the sell out; the kid came to class and asked the professor what he thinks he should about the picture and the professor told him, "Don't you dare even think about it."
Well we all know what he did, he sold it to a British paper and used the money as the excuse, later telling people that Phelps was a jerk to him, go figure. I'm sorry, to me money is not worth attempting to destroy someone's reputation, but I guess there's only a few "Real" people left in this world.
Not only is the University of South Carolina staff upset and disappointed with the student who sold the picture, many of the students were outraged as well. One student misrepresenting thousands isn't popular here and nobody has praised his actions or thought he was "cool" for doing so.
I can sit here all day and write about the unfairness about the situation, but everybody has their own opinion. Until you have interacted with Phelps himself, who are you to judge a 23 year old trying to live his life out of the spotlight for a second.
The fact is that he got caught smoking what seems to be an illegal substance but before you start to judge him, here are a few facts for you to swallow.
In a recent study, they have found that Marijuana is the most frequently used illegal drug in the United States. Nearly 69 million people over the age of 12 have experimented with Marijuana in America, among high school seniors 50 percent have tried the drug, and during the study 10 million had used the drug in the month before the study.
So for many of you all, look in your own mirror before you compare this incident with that of A-Rod, Tim Donaghey, Pete Rose, Marion Jones, or Kobe Bryant because that picture isn't worth trying to ruin his legacy by any means.
If you want to forget about the eight medals, the pride he brought to this country, and the millions he has donated to his charity along with many others because of one night of fun, then you go head and keep "Hatin" because you can't stop him in the water and neither can the media.
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