Since 2004, once every four years, Debbie Phelps seemingly gets as much airtime in the summer as does a presidential candidate. This is due to the fact that television broadcasts love to show the parents of triumphant Olympians after their children have claimed a gold.
Seeing as how Debbie is the mother of the most decorated Olympian in history, Michael Phelps, she finds her way to a TV screen a lot.
Debbie will be shown in the stand celebrating the amazing accomplishments of her so and being right there to live them with him. It is great to see what appears to be a strong and loving relationship.
On the other end of the spectrum, Michael's father, Fred, has largely remained a mystery.
When Michael was nine, his parents divorced, and he and his father's relationship has been described as distant. Nevertheless, Fred has traveled to watch his son in the Olympics in 2004 and again this year to cheer his son on, but for the most part, he remains out of the public view.
There is little doubt he could create a spotlight for himself if he was so inclined.
One of the few comments you will find floating around from Fred is passed along by Latino Sports' Michael Oleaga. Here is Fred from 2008: "I'm very proud of him and all he's done. This is not about me, it's about him."
Now, I have no idea why their relationship is distant, or what's gone on in their personal lives. I am not in any position to comment in those areas, and this is not about that.
What I do know about Fred Phelps is that he hasn't rushed to try and personally benefit from the spotlight created by his son. If he was so inclined, he could have found talk shows, tabloids, publishers or any number of places willing to give him cash to talk about his life with his son—a life that he apparently was not a large part of.
There are plenty of people who would, and I am glad Fred Phelps is not one of those people.