Michael, They Don’t Call It “Dope” For Nothing
Did he really think no one was watching?
Oh, Michael, we are so disappointed in you. Yes, we know that after your years of training and your tremendous accomplishments, you just wanted to hang out for a while. We have heard before that since your Olympic triumph you have been partying heartily all over the place. But didn’t you realize that everyone had their eyes and their camera phone trained on you just trying to catch you not looking your gold-medal best?
Yes, someone snapped a photo of Super Swimmer last November at a house party at the University of South Carolina. Michael, onlookers say, had been chugging beers and knocking back shots all night. Not a problem. But there was a photo taken of Michael, head down, inhaling deeply from a bong. What a dope!
The photo ended up in a British tabloid called the News of the World, which is not averse to paying big money for big scandals. Wonder who took the photo and how much he or she got paid? When Michael’s agent heard that the paper was putting the picture on its front page, he went ballistic. Think of the millions of dollars in commercial endorsements that could be in jeopardy. It’s been reported that Michael’s handlers even offered the Sunday tabloid all sorts of deals to keep the story out of the paper. No luck. You can’t exactly make deals with British tabloids to suppress stories that will be big news everywhere. By the way, the News of the World’s affectionate nickname in England is “Screws of the World.” No doubt, they enjoyed screwing up the image of an American hero.
At least Michael isn’t pretending he was using the bong for anything other than the reasons most partygoers use a bong. He has issued an apology. “I engaged in behavior which was regrettable and demonstrated bad judgment,” he said in a statement on Sunday. “I’m 23 years old, and despite the successes I have had in the pool, I acted in a youthful and inappropriate way, not in a manner that people have come to expect from me. For this, I am sorry. I promise my fans and the public–it will not happen again.”
Will the public–and his sponsors–give him another chance? Possibly. But, boy, we wouldn’t want to be Michael when he gets home to Baltimore. His mom, remember, is a school principal. Can you just imagine what she is going to say?