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‘Pot’ of Gold for Phelps

Michael Phelps caught smoking marijuana Phelps Foray with Marijuana May Very Well Short-Circuit Kids’ Brains (and Futures)

If you’re a frequent reader of my columns, you may recall a piece I wrote over the summer lambasting Michael Phelps for promoting sugar saturated cereals.

Well, Mr. Phelps is at it again, this time “caught on tape” smoking marijuana through a bong. 

Phelps has since apologized, calling his behavior “regrettable” and that he demonstrated “bad judgment.”

You can say that again.  As a parent, what do you say to your young aspiring swimmer who sees photos of his hero splashed online and on television with a long cylindrical pipe pressed against his mouth? 

“Oh, that’s nothing son, just Michael Phelps smoking an illegal substance.”

To make matters worse, corporate sponsors of Phelps are standing behind their man of gold.  For instance Omega, the luxury-watchmaker, went so far as to call the marijuana flap a “non-issue” and a private matter.


Now, don’t get me wrong.  I understand Phelps is young (23 years old) and that everyone makes mistakes.  But it bothers me when someone as popular with young people as Michael Phelps can make so bone-headed a move and little is done to condemn his conduct.  Especially considering how widely publicized it was!

The main reason why I’m so critical of Phelps – to say nothing of the fact that it’s illegal, and that it is indeed a “gateway drug” to more serious crimes – is that it fries the brain cells in adolescents, the same adolescents who look up to Phelps as someone worth aspiring to be like.

Published in the Journal of Pediatric Therapy, researchers from the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia wrote how the undeveloped adolescent brain is compromised by heavy marijuana use, particularly in parts of the brain that control memory, problem solving and decision making.

That research was published last month; a new body of research is building on those findings, using the same tests and analysis that the Philadelphia doctors used.  The latest round of research is taken from a much smaller group of adolescents (14 young men) who used marijuana throughout their teen years. 

Using a type of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), researchers found that the lining of these boys’ brains was atypical to the normal brain, or as the researchers put it, there was an “arrest in the development” of the myelin sheath – the white matter that covers the nerve fibers of the brain.  This kind of damage results in impaired brain function, as the brain transmits information at a much slower rate than the non-doped brain.

It really takes a sharp, well-trained mind to be successful and to stand out in today’s competitive world.  Sure, kids don’t have to worry about the job market now, but the imprints marijuana leaves on adolescents developing brains are lifelong, and can literally short-circuit their value and potential to be something great.

Michael Phelps truly impressive performance this summer inspired millions of young girls and boys to learn how to swim.  But this latest flub of Phelps shows he has a lot to learn himself.

Related Posts

  1. Why a Champion Could Use a Revampin’: Phelps’ Diet Needs Work – For His and Other Kids’ Sake
  2. “Magnificent” Magnesium Supplementation Boosts Bone Density, Researchers Conclude

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Comment from dale patterson
Time February 4, 2009 at 6:29 am

Just another gifted, inmature idiot.

Comment from Twinmack
Time February 4, 2009 at 6:55 am

Obviously the fame (and fortune) has gone to his head. Additionally, somewhere along the line he has not looked up the definition of the word NO. But the those of his age have never been taught what the word means so it wouldn’t do him any good to look it up.

I do not like athletes who act as Phelps has. It is that attitude of I AM GREAT look at me. I don’t care how hard he practiced to win the medals he did.

The only consolation is that very soon his notority will be gone like Spitz, Louganous and the rest.

Comment from Cecilie
Time February 4, 2009 at 3:36 pm

Widely publicized? This is the first place I’ve seen it mentionned. Maybe if people focused less on newspapers and news casts …

That being said, I agree that when you’re a public sports figure like he is, you keep your nose clean, at least in public. If he smoked in private, isn’t this an invasion of his privacy anyway?

Not saying he’s right to do what he does in private, or that he should have made sure there were no cameras around, or that he shouldn’t get the same punishment as any other less famous person; but …

How many people can really throw stones when they’re in a glass house? Have we as parents never made a mistake?

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