Perhaps more so than any other sporting event, the Olympics have a rare mystique about them, a fairytale-like aura that lends itself so perfectly to stories of glory and triumph.
That's why it's so disheartening to see Michael Phelps without a slew of gold medals draped around his neck. In 2008, we built this guy up to be an invincible legend incapable of losing, because at the time, he was. Now it hurts to see him looking up at someone else on the podium because it makes him seem, well, human.
But before we start calling this a disappointing Olympics for Phelps, let's take a step back and look at what he's accomplished in London thus far. Aside from setting the record for most career Olympic medals, Phelps' performance in the 2012 Games is impressive on its own.
In four events, Phelps has three medals (one gold, two silver) and a fourth-place finish. You know who would kill for that kind of success in multiple events? Every other Olympian.
We've set the bar so unbelievably high for Phelps that we can't even appreciate the greatness he continues to display.
There are plenty of incredible athletes who dedicate their lives to their sport, but never make it to the Olympics. Some make it, but fail to qualify for the finals. And some qualify for the finals, but fail to medal. Even those who do medal usually do it in one event.
That's why it's simply ridiculous to look at Phelps' London performance in a negative light. Despite having little to no motivation, he continues to go out and compete at a high level.
Sure, he no longer seems immortal, but he's been really damn good. Can't that be enough?