Saturday, August 21, 2010

Michael Phelps 'Washington Post' profile piece is a PR crisis!

"... Bowman said he wonders whether he shouldn't have just told Phelps to take an entire year off after winning eight gold medals in the 2008 Summer Games. Phelps has shown up for about 40 percent of the year's work ..."

[Link]
Michael Phelps has only been attending practices on a regular basis since May. When he doesn't show up he wouldn't call or text and his coach Bob Bowman would move on to the swimmers who did show up. After missing practice for a week, Bowman wondered if he was okay?

For the past two years, Michael Phelps, has "phoned in" the majority of his swims often showing up to the meets unshaven and prefacing each misstep or mediocre time with an excuse. These excuses are not only unprofessional but they are subsequently degrading the swimmers that have actually put in the hours to beat him and they are embarrassing the sponsors that have invested in him.

His workout ethic once had no equal but now it is both lazy and asymmetrical.

When I read between the lines of each excuse he has proffered over the last two years, I read these words between the lines: I HATE MY F**KING JOB!

Michael, either be a "super hero" or get a new job.

The photo above is brought to by Corbis Images and is copyrighted. I can't share this photo - you will have to license it.

54 comments:

Anonymous said...

Sit down, Sir, and be quiet.
Michael Phelps isn't obliged to apologize to you (or anyone else, for that matter) for his results and times you call "mediocre" so easily. By the way, look at world rankings. His times are either best or in top 5. He won 5 golds @ Pan Pacs. If only everyone of us was "mediocre" like that!
After years and years of training, he has every right to slow down a bit and have a year off without people jumping on him and make rude comments.

Anonymous said...

But this is nothing new for Phelps? For six years now he has been like this - missing days at a time, last one in the water and first one out, etc. However, he has base training (ages 13-18) which is unmatched by anyone on this planet and yes he can fake a 400im. Crazy faking a 400im! Two years is plenty of time for this guy to get back into it. He reminds us of that too - 100fly at Natls and 100fr at PanPacs. Easy to kick him when he is down and yes the workout stories are true, but he really is a superhero.

Tony Austin said...

Michael Phelps is the greatest swimmer ever, no question. The talent he has is something no generation has ever seen before.

Six years ago I remember hearing that he swam every day and that included Christmas and Thanksgiving.

Even with his spotty training he is still great but he is no longer the best in everything he does and seeing him scratch from events is not very becoming either.

I think my criticisms are valid

Tony Austin said...

b-poindexter, one of those people making these "rude" comments is Bowman himself.

Here was my quote: For the past two years, Michael Phelps, has "phoned in" the majority of his swims often showing up to the meets unshaven and prefacing each misstep or mediocre time with an excuse.

I think that sentence is 100% accurate. He had a great Pan Pacs, no doubt, but for the past 2-years it has been nothing but excuses and according to Bowman, very little work.

G. John Mullen said...

Phelps' is an amazing, one of a kind talent, but many athletes are talented and if you're not putting in the hard work others can catch up quick.

I hate debates where it says one great athlete works harder than other athletes, but it does seem Phelps' is not working as hard as other top athletes which will ultimately catch up to him and motivate or be his exit from the sport, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

Michael, either be a "super hero" or get a new job.

Why does it have to be one or the other for him? Why does he have to be the superhero when no one else has to be? No other swimmer is expected to swim such a huge program. Most swim between one and four events. If extreme training is unsatisfying and makes him unhappy, what's wrong with just doing enough to stay atop the fly podiums and helping the US win relays? He basically has a very similar program to Coughlin right now. Besides Lochte, any other swimmer in the world would DROOL to get his results with so little effort. You're overlooking the fact that Phelps said he's been happier this year than he ever was before. Why sacrifice his emotional well-being because other people think he should be working harder? He's burned-out. Very few swimmers on the US team have been competing at the international level as long as he has. Lezak and Peirsol--that's it on the men's side--and they never trained as hard as he did. Thorpe was elite at 14 as well and burned out by age 24. He's learning to do less so his career lasts longer. Check out http://www.nytimes.com/2010/08/22/sports/22phelps.html?_r=2 this article for a more balanced view. Frankly, I think that because he was so dominant for so long, people's expectations of him are unduly and unrealistically high.

Tony Austin said...

Your opposing opinion is very well stated. It is almost "bullet proof."

I suppose my bias comes from the fact that when Phelps loses his answers for doing so never credit his opponent such as Biedermann or Lochte but rather his lack of motivation, a stiff neck, his experimentation with a new stroke or otherwise.

Even Bowman said he is tired of his excuses.

He deserves time off but if he loses he should shut up or credit his opponent rather than qualifying his defeat.

Lindsey said...

I totally agree with you, Tony. In the past two years, Phelps has consistently failed to impress me with his attitude. You didn't even include the quote from the article that is most damning from Bob Bowman's own lips: "I'm tired of hearing he's out of shape. We know. Shut up about it. Do something about it."

I think the fact that his own coach is using the media like this to get his attention says so much about Phelps' current attitude, mind-set, and character. Sure, he had to work mind-bogglingly hard to get to where he is now, but frankly the way he is acting now is just childish. I don't expect him to swim such huge programs all the time, but I do expect him to at least be a good competitor both in athletic aptitude and sportsmanship in the events he does race. Phoning in performances is nothing but a slap in the face to all the people, coaches, fans, and sponsors who have supported him all these year. Not to mention the disrespect he's paying his competitors. If he needs to take time off, then he should do it. Don't half-ass it, that will do nothing but hurt himself and those around him.

Frankly, I've lost a lot of respect for him over the last year, starting with the whole suit debacle at Worlds. I get that he's tired of training hard, but he has been paid millions of dollars in sponsorships not only for what he has done, but for what he will do as well.

He is, no doubt, the greatest swimmer that has ever lived, but being great is not just about athletic feats, it's how you live as well.

Anonymous said...

He has credited his opponents, though. He told reporters that Biedermann swam the better race or that Lochte has been swimming amazing. When his 200 and 400 times (he actually did post textile PBs in the 100s) are much slower than his textile PBs, it's silly not to say that he's not in great shape. I don't see how what he has been saying is much different than Peirsol crediting his opponents, then saying he and his stroke haven't felt very good this season, Cielo saying his stroke felt off, or Shanteau saying his taper might have been off when their results didn't meet expectations. Phelps is hardly the only swimmer to qualify poor times.

Tony Austin said...

Lindsay, I feel like deleting my paragraphs and putting yours in it's place.

Tony Austin said...

Anon: You forgot the stiff neck excuse, his quote about Ran Lochte's groin injury when he said of the Lochte injury to AP, He always says that," and many others.

I was going to do a post cataloging them but stuff got in the way

Lindsey said...

Ha! Well, great minds do think alike... :)

And to Anonymous:

Sure, Phelps has credited his opponents when they've bested him-- right after he's delivered some backhanded compliment or excuse to keep himself on top.

Because not only does Phelps hate to lose, he can't lose, especially now that he has accomplished so much. And since he can't always beat them in the pool anymore, he now has to beat them mentally, and through the press, by discounting his opponents victories through his various excuses. That way, he can never really lose, because by his logic, unless someone beats him when he is in top physical shape, they didn't really beat him, because he could best them if he really wanted to. He's protecting his legacy the only way he really can now -- through words.

That type of attitude is what is going to ruin all the growth of the sport that he has worked so hard to achieve. What Phelps doesn't realize is that while his athletic achievements have gained him the notoriety he now enjoys, it's going to be his strength of character that is going to make it last.

And right now, unless he starts down a different path then the one he's on, then he will forever be known as the ultimate Olympic champion who fizzled out right after, living a dissipated life based on debauched rappers and self-indulgent professional athletes.

I know I'm writing a book with these comments, but the Phelps situation has been pissing me off for quite some time now. No one likes seeing someone they once admired being such a jackass, least of all me.

Anonymous said...

The Ryan Lochte groin injury quote sounds completely different in print than it did in person. He was very clearly joking and immediately after said "he always puts up something good" and that Ryan is always the kind of person who overcomes something. It was very clearly a compliment to RL and not a criticism.

As for the stiff neck, who are we to say that it wasn't an issue that day? I assume he knows his own body better than people on the internet and sometimes it's better to be safe than sorry.

Not impressed by any of your examples of his poor sportsmanship. And I wouldn't call myself a complete Phelps-apologist either. Clearly he still has some growing up to do. I just think some of the criticism is over the top.

Tony Austin said...

Anon, even Bowman says he is making too many excuses.

Lisa S. said...

I'm trying to see this as an opportunity.....Michael Phelps may have been the best IN the pool but let's be honest....he has failed as a "spokesperson" for the sport out of the pool. He's not a bad guy but anyone who has ever interviewed the guy walks away disappointed. My google alerts for Lochte have been blowing up my blackberry over the past 3 weeks and he now has over 10,000 followers on twitter. Lochte is the key to the future of this sport both in and out of the pool, not Phelps. So whatever "excuse" Phelps has is fine with me. Bowman will probably tear him a new one once he's back from Vegas and he'll either rededicate himself or not. I just wish the story wasn't so much what Phelps DIDN'T do but what Lochte DID do.

Tony Austin said...

He is in Vegas? 0_o

WOW! Why does that seem so thoroughly apropos for my argument.

I have some amazing shots of Lochte, and close up shots of his "Incredible Hulk" shoes. I will post them when I get to work.

Anonymous said...

Tony, Phelps is in Vegas with Lochte and Cullen Jones. He's taking a 2 week break and going back to training.

Bill Ireland said...

I've had a different impression of Phelps--I thought his comment about Lochte sounded like a joking reference and probably accurate. It was Bowman who did most of the complaining about the tech suits.

Bowman is the coach who trained Phelps in a way that pretty much only someone who was under 21 and totally focussed could possibly manage. Its not surprising that as Phelps gets older, and has had as much success as he has, he has some issues with the training regimen that Bowman uses for him--he's swum a lot over the years, and been to 3 Olympics and has accomplished everything that can be accomplished in a pool--sticking to it after all that is going to be hard and training for the 400 IM makes it as hard as it possibly could be.

Phelps is still swimming well with less workouts--even if not up to Bowman's standards for diligence. Personally if I were Phelps, I'd aim for the 100, 200 free, 100, 200 fly, He could train less with higher quality, do more dryland for variety and dropping the IMs would mean that he would be focussing on 2 strokes. I thought having him swim the 400 IM at Pan Pacs was very questionable. He'd still have a chance at 6 golds in London. The real question for me is whether Bowman can adapt his style of coaching for Phelps in 2011-12. Phelps has made it to 2010 with backing off a bit which makes sense. He still swam well at Worlds in 09 and ok at Pan Pacs. It kept him at the front of the sport and anyone who expected him to be as focussed for the entire 4 years after Beijing as before doesn't really recognize how hard he was training before.

I don't think its realistic to expect him to stick with the same training regimen that he used to prepare for Athens and Beijing.

Anonymous said...

1) I would like to see the article where Bowman has said these quotes.
2) Phelps' interviews are poor for the sport? NO ONE paid attention to the sport of swimming before he came along, and NONE of these meets would be televised if it wasn't for him on NBC or Universal.
3) Again commenting on the interviews, Lindsey, do you think Lochte is good for the sport and his interviews are beneficial to the sport or the USA Swimming organization? Did you see the shirt that he wore to the starting blocks that said "I'll make your bed rock?" Is this someone that you think is a better role model for the sport?
4) What did he say at Worlds that was so offensive about the suits? Because everyone commenting on this list could but one of those suits on and swim fast.
5) Phelps is the ONLY swimmer on the US deligation to give the other swimmers credit. He answers questions as they are asked by the media. Example: Media "So, Michael you haven't been training as often as you were the year leading up to the Olympics" Phelps "No, I haven't and we know what we need to work on, but the US Team is really stepping up and bringing some solid swims. I'm really proud of the guys and the times they have been able to post here."

It's interesting to see who is really a fan and has loyalty and who is fair weather and is ready to chop a 25 year old kid off at the knees when he's not breaking a WR at every swim. I would love to meet some of you on this list, as it sounds like you really are cut from a perfect cloth and have never taken a day off of work "just because", missed a day to play golf or ever done anything that remotely detracts from your perfect being. Give the kid a break and enjoy the swimming for what it is... a sport. He's not making poor decisions that impact our national security or spilling millions of oil into the Gulf... he's swimming.

Anonymous said...

Oh, and Lisa S, I would like some details to back up the comment "He's not a bad guy but anyone who has ever interviewed the guy walks away disappointed."

This is the problem.. there is such a wide sweeping generalization in every statement, and then it gets swept away into this "Phelps is awful and doesn't ever show up for practice and he's a bad person who all media dislikes" Give me a break!

Please provide names to back up that statement, because I would say it was quite the opposite. He hands down gives the BEST interviews out of any and all of the swimmer on the pool deck and off of the pool deck.

I would be hard pressed to provide 5 names of reporters who have interviewed him who would agree with your statement. And there are 100's of reporters, media personal, and the like who have spent time with him in the interview capacity.

Tony Austin said...

Hi Bill, but then Phelps should credit the swimmers that beat him and not explain away why he lost.

Tony Austin said...

Anon, you are obviously close to Phelps in some way.

Lindsey said...

I do like Lochte and I do think that he is good for the sport.

Now, I might not agree with all his lifestyle choices, but he has never represented himself as anyone but himself. He's the same Ryan Lochte to his fans, his sponsors, his competitors, and to the press. And he has the good attitude and the swims to back himself up. He plays hard, but he works hard, and he is a gracious competitor with a deep respect for his opponents.

The difference between Phelps and Lochte is that Lochte actually leads a balanced life. Lochte knows how to have fun and work hard too. Phelps has no clue, something that's been made very obvious through his choices in the past two years.

I think that the sense of fun that Lochte swims with is the best thing about him. And that kind of attitude is what is going to truly grow the sport.

Anonymous said...

LOL I think there are at least three different Anonymous commenters here, Tony.

Has Phelps failed as a spokesman for the sport? Yes and no. He has increased the popularity of the sport, but someone who is naturally charismatic could have done more. I don't think anyone fails who does the best they can with what they have to work with. People's basic natures do not change, but we can improve. Phelps, at 15, was described as "disarmingly shy" by reporters. He has a lisp, a stutter, and clearly spaces out during long interviews (probably due to his severe ADHD). Compare him to Liz Beisel, who at 15 was an absolute joy to watch in interviews-gregarious and completely comfortable in front of the camera. But he has worked at it and gotten much better over the years. And I give him so much credit for doing a show like Shaq Vs. under truly poor conditions. He wanted swimmers (Kukors, Vollmer, and Soni were also featured) to be seen on a national platform outside of the Olympics & did the show despite barely being able to walk or swim.

And I have to agree with Bill, not all of the blame should rest on Phelps for his reluctance to go to workout. Bowman is notorious for being a hardass and one of the most physically punishing coaches. Note the emotional and physical wreck Katie Hoff became under him in less than a year. It seems that he has a lot of trouble tailoring his coaching to the athlete's needs instead of his own preconceptions about what a workout should be like. It's not surprising that Phelps balks at going back to that regimen.

Tony, I have to say that I think it's obvious that you neither watch many Phelps interviews nor many interviews with other swimmers. He does give credit to other swimmers, and most other swimmers give reasons (I don't like saying "explain away" or "excuse") for why they have bad swims.

Tony Austin said...

Want to be a guest blogger? I will send you a "tear sheet" of photos I have of nationals and Pan Pacs and you can tear into it? - You too Bill.

Tony Austin said...

I read Michael Phelps interviews; I rarely watch them.

Phelps, Lochte, Cullen Jones, Gary Hall can't even remotely touch how rowdy I was during my youth. Though I have never been arrested; unlike Phelps who has been arrested, I have been known to do some really silly and self-destructive things during my youth that I quickly outgrew by the time I was their age and with that said consider this:

Phelps signed in blood on the dotted line for millions-of-dollars to pretend he was a mythological character with no human faults or vices in exchange for deleting his young adulthood and a good part of his personality to promote two concepts: The USA and any multinational corporation who proffered a check.

I really don't care about his work ethic or the stupid things he does because I have topped them. I do sincerely care about his mouth diminishing those that beat him.

When I have time today or tonight, I will catalog each one. over the past two years that have upset me.

Lisa S. said...

Sorry, Anon I don't have the time to go back and research every interviewer who has walked away from a Phelps interview underwhelmed, I am busy raising children. I find the defensiveness here very interesting. Who are you, Peter Carlisle? I'm not here to argue. I can barely swim 50 meters without needing cardiac support. What's wrong in saying Phelps doesn't give a great interview? Are we not allowed to be critical of the Great One? I think Mike would readily admit he's not a huge fan of the spotlight. I personally have heard him describe himself as "shy" and he struggles with legitimate issues that make it difficult for him to be "Mr. Charisma." He's done very well considering. If you had read my comment the way it was meant to be read my point is that there are other talented swimmers who also deserve the opportunity to be heard, spoken with, promoted and discussed. Some of them also happen to give a great one liner and/or be extremely articulate. If all the press does is focus on Phelps we're in trouble. He's retiring in 2 years, remember.

Tony Austin said...

What about these five excuses:

1. "I forgot my cape"
2. "Did a hard set last night with Coach Johnny Walker."
3. "I didn't eat my "Weedies""
4. "Lochte was wearing 'Kryptonite'"
5. "I was bluffing and I got called on it."

Anonymous said...

So Phelps is living a dissipated life and great minds like Lindsey, Lisa and other armchair psychologists will enlighten him and show him the way. Right.
While everyone is allowed to be critical, calling someone you don't even know "jackass" and other names is just plain offensive and it says more about you than about Phelps. One thing is really funny: how you're disappointed with Phelps' interviews but you're not disappointed with Lochte's illiterate tweets. I don't even want to go there, because Lochte seems to be a nice guy, nor do I expect him or Phelps to quote Shakespeare or something, but if you want to play that game, there you are.

What bothers me the most is this lack of respect for the man who is 14 time Olympic gold medalist. Not just greatest swimmer, but arguably the greatest Olympian in history.
Phelps is the past, present and the future of the sport of swimming - as long as he wants to be involved - and I'm telling you this as a person who isn't from USA. Someone already mentioned, and I'm going to say it again: he is the reason you watch swimming on NBC or elsewhere. He's the guy people want to watch either at meets or on TV. When he was in France in June, people from all over Europe came to Paris to see him and greet him. Stands were full, all tickets were sold because everyone wanted to see The Greatest swim. Even when he was DEAD LAST in 100 free he got ovations from the crowd. When EDF meet was over, official announcer thanked him for taking his time and coming to France - it's called RESPECT for the Greatest Olympian. And you know what? Two months later, he is the fastest man in the world in 100 free.

Obviously, in USA, where everything is fast, instant and now or never, you're as good as your last race. In Europe, where people care for tradition and Olympism, this man would be treated as demi-god.

Tony Austin said...

Oh wow! The 'Jackass' quote. You are referencing the Craig Lord post That was an awesome event! I actually decided to start SwimWall over that. (Still seeking more funding.) Here is a link for those that did not see it, here it is:

http://scaq.blogspot.com/2010/03/craig-lord-denies-posting-any-article.html

Anon, This whole post is about Phelps qualifying each loss and not taking responsibility by either fixing it or crediting his opponents. Instead, it is about how out of shape he is and how much work he has to do but work is not what he is doing. Even Bowman is tired of it.

No question that Phelps is the greatest swimmer ever and that the French are awesome, but he is certainly not acting like it lately and it disappoints us. Deal with it.

Lisa S. said...

Dear Anon:

Funny you should say that because I am a Ph.D. psychologist. I also have a child with ADHD/autism. I never insulted you personally and I don't appreciate your snide remarks and hostility. This is a blog for people who are interested in the sport of swimming. It's a dialogue, a place to discuss and debate. Please show some respect to Tony and the others who post here.

Anonymous said...

I'm with Bob Bowman and others in being tired of him saying he's out of shape, but not because I think he's making an excuse; it's just because it feels like he's been saying that since he came back from his suspension in '09, and I'm just ready to see him do something about it so I can hear him say something different. But I don't see it as him proffering an excuse; I see it as him telling the truth. For those who've been reading about his progress (or lack thereof) since the Olympics, it's no secret that his training hasn't been consistent since Beijing and he's been honest (even to the point of irritation for some) about that. But what else is he supposed to say, really, when he's interviewed after a race where we can see he's clearly frustrated with his time or the way he swam? And even when/if he preemptively mentions his lack of fitness in press conferences and interviews, I feel like he does that to reduce any unrealistically high expectations that the press and others may have of him at the meet. Because sports journalists (and some people online) will exaggerate, overreact, and run with the negative if you don't meet their expectations after you pull off a feat like Beijing, no matter how much sense you try to talk into them.

However, I just don't look at athletes who point out their own faults in a race or their preparation as a denigration of other swimmers. Unless you take denigration to mean the same thing as just not taking the time to compliment someone else. Whether he compliments someone who beats him or not is neither here or there with me. As long as he's not making snide comments or backhanded compliments (which I still haven't seen or read about), or insulting the ones who touch him out, I could care less. I figure he's too busy being in the race to have a ready compliment for someone else based on what they did, unless perhaps it's a someone who he's studied (like Thorpe in the 200) or has raced against head-to-head plenty of times before so he'd have a better understanding of the kind of race they typically put together (like Peirsol, Crocker, or Lochte). I have heard/read him compliment them plenty of times before.

But I am seeing hypocrisy and a double standard with regard to what Phelps says and does versus someone else, like Tony's comment about him scratching from events not being very becoming. Tony, did you (and anybody else who believes the same) think other athletes were not becoming for scratching as well? Hell, even if you did, it was only Phelps' scratch that not only had entire articles and blog posts dedicated to it but also had people accusing him of "hiding" and being scared to lose. And this about the guy who, despite all the 7 gold medal hype back then, still went up against Ian Thorpe in Thorpe's event in 2004 on the biggest stage, knowing that he wouldn't win that race. And I'm not so cynical to believe that four plus more years, 8 more gold medals, and a lot more fame would have changed Phelps on that score (especially when you have those who actually know Phelps, like Lochte, saying so themselves just a few days ago).

Kori

Tony Austin said...

Yeah, I think at a meet like the Olympics, Pan Pacs or even US Nationals it is not very becoming for the greatest swimmer ever or the a top ten swimmer to scratch. that's the way my opinion rolls

Anonymous said...

@ Lisa

So, besides being a psychologist, you're somehow Tony Austin's lawyer too? I respect Tony by reading his blog and posting here, even though I'm a Craig Lord's fan. What more respect can a blogger ask for?

Second, as a psychologist, you should know better than to profile someone you have never met. I understand you're speaking here as a Lochte fan and I don't expect you or anyone else who's on Lochte google alerts to be objective. I also know you've waited since forever for that Indy 200IM victory, but that should not be excuse to make rude remarks towards Michael Phelps.
And yes, for someone interested in sport of swimming, you discuss way too much about Phelps private things. His private life is his own, Vegas is his problem and not yours so restrain yourself from commenting that if you're here only for swimming topics. Thank you.

@ Tony
French ARE awesome, I'm dealing with your blog pretty well even when you insult Phelps (and you do that on regular basis), you should update your SwimWall more etc. Cheers.

Tony Austin said...

Thank you, I am looking to raise $30,000 so I can have access to photographers and photography all over the world. Also to post articles at least twice a day. I am in negotiations with a content provider now and I hope it works out. :-)

Thank you, I am flattered you both stop by.

Lisa said...

You're welcome, Tony. Even if I do have to put up with the occasional personality disorder (OH MY GOD, THERE I GO AGAIN.) I appreciate you having the forum. Good luck with SwimWall.

Anonymous said...

Phelps did not scratch the 200m IM because he was afraid of losing to Lochte. That already happened. We all knew it would happen again. He scratched it because he knew that the US desperately needed him at the top of his game in order to win the 4x100 medley relay. Tyler McGill would not have cut it for us. Phelps made up a 1.3s deficit to the Japanese and outsplit their flyer by 1.5s. HE put us in the lead. Nathan Adrian is a clutch swimmer, but that relay would have been way too close for comfort without Phelps. MP sacrificed personal glory and a (probable) silver medal to help out Team USA. He knew that swimming two very tough 200 IMs would really gut him and he wouldn't have enough to make a serious impact on the relay. I'm really not understanding how that's not admirable. Other swimmers have made the same choice before: to forgo an individual swim to help out on a relay.

Tony, I'm curious whether you're as upset at Jessica Hardy for not swimming the 100m breast, an event in which she holds the WR?

Anonymous said...

There are several anon on here, and I think we're in agreement on a lot of statements. I'm speaking as a Phelps fan, who is a fan of all USA Swimming, being that I was a competitive swimmer for many, many years.

Lisa, I don't think it's fair to make statements that are so wide sweeping if you can't back them up. I'm not here to attack anyone, I am also here to express my opinion of the article and what I read. No one has called any one names or said anything inappropriate or "mean" towards anyone who has left a comment. My questions were simply a fact check. From someone that gets google alerts as well, I have never seen a reporter say that they are disappointed, but quite the opposite. Matt Lauer, Jay Leno, Brian Williams, Dick Ebersol ALL have said how much they enjoy working with Phelps.

We all have kids, families and jobs, but I don't think it's fair making claims or statements like that if you can't back it up or there is no proof.

What Phelps did is something that no one on this list or our kids or grandkids will ever see. He is a once in a lifetime athlete. Hands down. Are there other good swimmers? Yes. Ryan Lochte broke the 200 IM World Record (the only one broken NOT in a polyurithane suit) during the World Championships last year with a fast swim. Ian Thorpe, Aaron Peirsol, Nathan Ardian, Couglin, Hoff, Zeigler.

Tony, I appreciate you taking the time to post some of comments and I look forward to seeing the other pieces that you have references.

His sponsors seem to be ok with what he's doing, as none of them have dropped him. And if you read closely and not listen to everything you hear in the media, you'll actually see that Kellogg's chose to NOT renew his sponsorship (these facts are written in Business Journal, not on local dramatized news pieces)

Balanced lifestyle? The Phelps Foundation, Boys & Girls Club and having his own business don't count? He gives back to the community and actually shows up for his charitable endeavors, not just a name behind the org.

Again, I like all of the swimmers. I enjoy a great race, even when it's Phelps/Lochte and Lochte swims the better race. I'm just tired of fans who support people when the athlete is up and ready to take shots at them when they are not. Remember the days of Carl Lewis? When winning 9 gold medals in a lifetime was a big deal? We've become so jaded that we expect more from athletes and WE put them on the podium expecting them to be not only great, but perfect.

Anonymous said...

There are several anon on here, and I think we're in agreement on a lot of statements. I'm speaking as a Phelps fan, who is a fan of all USA Swimming, being that I was a competitive swimmer for many, many years.

Lisa, I don't think it's fair to make statements that are so wide sweeping if you can't back them up. I'm not here to attack anyone, I am also here to express my opinion of the article and what I read. No one has called any one names or said anything inappropriate or "mean" towards anyone who has left a comment. My questions were simply a fact check. From someone that gets google alerts as well, I have never seen a reporter say that they are disappointed, but quite the opposite. Matt Lauer, Jay Leno, Brian Williams, Dick Ebersol ALL have said how much they enjoy working with Phelps.

We all have kids, families and jobs, but I don't think it's fair making claims or statements like that if you can't back it up or there is no proof.

What Phelps did is something that no one on this list or our kids or grandkids will ever see. He is a once in a lifetime athlete. Hands down. Are there other good swimmers? Yes. Ryan Lochte broke the 200 IM World Record (the only one broken NOT in a polyurithane suit) during the World Championships last year with a fast swim. Ian Thorpe, Aaron Peirsol, Nathan Ardian, Couglin, Hoff, Zeigler.

Tony, I appreciate you taking the time to post some of comments and I look forward to seeing the other pieces that you have references.

His sponsors seem to be ok with what he's doing, as none of them have dropped him. And if you read closely and not listen to everything you hear in the media, you'll actually see that Kellogg's chose to NOT renew his sponsorship (these facts are written in Business Journal, not on local dramatized news pieces)

Balanced lifestyle? The Phelps Foundation, Boys & Girls Club and having his own business don't count? He gives back to the community and actually shows up for his charitable endeavors, not just a name behind the org.

Again, I like all of the swimmers. I enjoy a great race, even when it's Phelps/Lochte and Lochte swims the better race. I'm just tired of fans who support people when the athlete is up and ready to take shots at them when they are not. Remember the days of Carl Lewis? When winning 9 gold medals in a lifetime was a big deal? We've become so jaded that we expect more from athletes and WE put them on the podium expecting them to be not only great, but perfect.

Anonymous said...

There are several anon on here, and I think we're in agreement on a lot of statements. I'm speaking as a Phelps fan, who is a fan of all USA Swimming, being that I was a competitive swimmer for many, many years.

Lisa, I don't think it's fair to make statements that are so wide sweeping if you can't back them up. I'm not here to attack anyone, I am also here to express my opinion of the article and what I read. No one has called any one names or said anything inappropriate or "mean" towards anyone who has left a comment. My questions were simply a fact check. From someone that gets google alerts as well, I have never seen a reporter say that they are disappointed, but quite the opposite. Matt Lauer, Jay Leno, Brian Williams, Dick Ebersol ALL have said how much they enjoy working with Phelps.

We all have kids, families and jobs, but I don't think it's fair making claims or statements like that if you can't back it up or there is no proof.

What Phelps did is something that no one on this list or our kids or grandkids will ever see. He is a once in a lifetime athlete. Hands down. Are there other good swimmers? Yes. Ryan Lochte broke the 200 IM World Record (the only one broken NOT in a polyurithane suit) during the World Championships last year with a fast swim. Ian Thorpe, Aaron Peirsol, Nathan Ardian, Couglin, Hoff, Zeigler.

Anonymous said...

(cont)
Tony, I appreciate you taking the time to post some of comments and I look forward to seeing the other pieces that you have references.

His sponsors seem to be ok with what he's doing, as none of them have dropped him. And if you read closely and not listen to everything you hear in the media, you'll actually see that Kellogg's chose to NOT renew his sponsorship (these facts are written in Business Journal, not on local dramatized news pieces)

Balanced lifestyle? The Phelps Foundation, Boys & Girls Club and having his own business don't count? He gives back to the community and actually shows up for his charitable endeavors, not just a name behind the organization.

Again, I like all of the swimmers. I enjoy a great race, even when it's Phelps/Lochte and Lochte swims the better race. I'm just tired of fans who support people when the athlete is up and are ready to take shots at them when they are not. Remember the days of Carl Lewis? When winning 9 gold medals in a lifetime was a big deal? We've become so jaded that we expect more from athletes and WE put them on the podium expecting them to be not only great, but perfect.

Tony Austin said...

Lots to respond too.

Phelps is the greatest ever,PERIOD. He has contributed to the sport in amazing ways, he is generous and real. He is charitable and stellar. He is an American hero. We all agree?

However, Lately, he has been degrading both himself and his competitors. His excuses for losses also have a subtext that the loss was due to his work ethic. Maybe this is 100% true but you don't say that when you lose... It's like saying, If I was prepared I could have handed you your ass.

If it wasn't for ADDHD and Autism, we would still be living in caves. The autistic population gave us silicon valley & Ben Franklin, and ADDHD population gave us Disneyland & Steve McQueen. Autism is not a deficit, just look at Aspberger candidate, Bill Gates

Jessica hardy should have not scratched, for she is "Jessica Hardy." When you are the champ, you don't capitulate, it's rude. A champion should always be prepared at championship meets.

I am very flattered that all of you, no matter what you wrote, posted a comment.

Chris DeSantis said...

Gosh, I barely want to wade into this argument. But let me take another position.

IMO, as a coach, It is never ever ever appropriate to make the comments that Bob routinely makes about his swimmers to the media.

We saw the same thing with Katie Hoff last year. If you have a problem with the way your swimmers are doing that is between you and them.

a new 'anonymous' person said...

I understand where Phelps is coming from. The focus and workload in swimming is brutal and must be so hard to sustain all this time. Many top swimmers have burnt out and retired before the age he is now. Libby Trickett retired at the age of 24 recently. Also, we saw what happened with Ian Thorpe.

It probably would have been better if he could have taken a year or two off, yes. Hopefully he can get it together for before the Olympics. Let's be honest, the Pan Pacs is significantly lesser when compared to the bigger picture of the Olympics. People like Natalie Coughlin and Dara Torres skip Worlds... they have careers longer than most and have better Olympic records for it. I think they are kind of smart doing that even if it's disappointing for swimming fans.

Even if Phelps comes away from the Olympics with a couple of bronzes, I will support him, or if he retires now. He has achieved more than most and it's hard for me to judge him.

Sure, he may not be the greatest personality-wise (charisma was mentioned) but that's not really his fault. There are so many swimmers who aren't anything special there as well.

Tony Austin said...

New Anon: yes, please support Phelps but don't support his excuses. You come to do battle and if you are not prepared do not disparage your opponent by insinuating if you were prepared you would have won.

Chris De Santis: Amazing how professional you are.

*Lil Miss Don't Poke the Tiger* said...

To the Anons who stood up for Mike, I give you a standing ovation. You served these haters up!
In my opinion,there's no reason for all the bashing and low blows that have been taking place. Judging his character and the way he does his regimen and interviews because he scratched a few races...pffft. Who are you, the Swimming police?
"Sorry sir, you're in direct violation of the USA Swimming Codes and Procedures. You didn't do your 2 a days, 7 days a week, 365 days a year practices as promised you would when you went Pro. You need to remember Mr. Phelps, you are supposed to be a machine. You have no life. No soul. No feelings. YOU MUST SWIM SWIM SWIM. We're now going to spew BS insults at you in the media and on blogs because we don't like the way you live your personal life and how it affects your swimming.You also give bad interviews and have no charisma.Oh and that thing you did in Beijing means absolutely nothing to us" SPARE ME!
You said it your self;
"I read Michael Phelps interviews; I rarely watch them."
Okay, the way it sounds in your head is completely different from what he says and how he says it. He gave great interviews at Nationals, I was there I witnessed and heard it for myself. He always talked about the team, never selfish or boastful. Just because he doesn't go around with green bedazzled"Marvin the Martian" shoes doesn't mean he isn't awesome and outstanding in his own way, even in his plain, taupe colored Toms. And I like Lochte, don't get me wrong, amazing swimmer but the total polar opposite to Mike. Of course they aren't going to be the same person. How boring would that be if they were identical in personality?
I honestly don't blame Mike for getting tired of that old song and dance with Bob. Having someone ride your ass for how many years wouldn't get old to you? Despite busting his hump for Beijing and walking away with 8 Golds, which who else has done by the way???*...........crickets...........* That's what I thought. People wanna give him sh*t for being out of shape and scratching. Let the guy breathe!
and B is right, he owes no apology to anyone. I think everyone forgets, he's not a superhero and I can see how that would let some people down. But that's not realistic. He's a 25 year old guy, who just wants to live his life they way he wants. He is someone who didn't really get the "normal" childhood that regular average Joe gets. Someone who may not have the best social skills but what do you expect from a kid that was shy and pretty much an introvert. I think slack should be cut, and worry about what's happening in your own back yard and keep your nose out of his.
If it weren't for Michael Phelps. I'd probably wouldn't give 2 sh*ts about the sport of swimming. I have a new found respect for something, I never in a million years, would have thought I would ever put time and effort into supporting. Its opened a whole new world to me. Granted Im not a swimmer,Ill be the first one to admit my ignorance on all the technical aspects of it, but Im learning.What these swimmers do is more of a feat than any football, basketball and baseball player could ever do. Which I admire and appreciate. Blows my mind to see what these people can do in the water.We all saw what happened at Nats. We know he needs to tighten it up, but let him do it on his own accord. Beating him down with verbal insults is going to be a REAL big motivator and positive reinforcement for him. Being 2 years out, he's got time. Whatever happens with his new form of training and having it be more lax than usual, I say good for him as long as he is doing something and working on his times. 2012 will be epic, and I wouldn't expect anything but the best from him. It will be an Olympics to definitely remember. And lest we forget...Don't poke the tiger... because we all remember what happened last time... :)

Anonymous said...

"don't support his excuses."

I don't see invalid excuses and agree with what he has said. He won 5 golds at Pan Pacs like b-poindexter said, which you probably wouldn't criticise anyone else for. At this point, since he is getting older and finding it harder to put that mammoth work in, I would actually think it sensible for him to cut out some events and have lesser gold goals. No shame in using the Pan Pacs to test himself.

Tony Austin said...

I am astonished that my clarifications are not being understood. I think I have no recourse but to catalog each excuse about his conditioning, reference it to his performances, and then explain in detail how his excuses diminish the swims of his competitors who did come prepared and have to listen to his reasons as to how he really could have won if he was prepared.

I don't care if Michael wins or loses, I am criticizing that he does not lose gracefully. I think he should look to Kate Ziegler as a role model.

TedBaker said...

I had a coach once, who used to say "Show me a gracious loser and I'll show you somehow who'll get a lot of practice."

Very harsh, I know, but - fundamentally - true.

Michael is not the most gracious loser because: a.) He hasn't had a lot of practice at it. and b.) He hates it.

No one truly knows what happens in another's head but, my guess - based on some observations and listening to him speak - is that Michael Phelps is a competitor's competitor. The guy lives to compete and to win at. I'm betting he'd compete with anybody at anything. I, personally, completely respect and admire him for it.

I don't think he's intentionally dissing his competition when he says "he's not training as well, sore neck, etc.". He's being asked a question - and often those questions are being asked by media that have no background in the sport - and he answers them. He really isn't - by his standards - training that hard this year. (Makes the results he is getting all the more remarkable, far as I'm concerned.)

Swimming is a great sport, as we all know. One the things that makes it great is that talk means nothing. Phelps - or anyone else - can say anything they like about their training regimes, their stroke technique, etc. and it means nothing. Results - time - is the only barometer. You do or you do not. (Remember, I'm talking about racing here.)

Phelps will either turn this year into something that motivates and he'll get back in the water in the fall and start hitting it or he won't. If he does, he'll dominate where it counts which is Worlds in 2011 and London 2012. If he doesn't, he's going to struggle. ("Struggle" is a bit relative. I'm sure that any swimmer - save Lochte - would love to "struggle" like Michael!)

My bet is that is the former: He'll be back at 80k to 100k a week come this winter and he will be ready to go in Shanghai and I wouldn't bet against him in London.

Tony Austin said...

Nice comment, Ted. I would never bet against Michael Phelps...

Kate Ziegler is gracious and she is either number 2-or-3 in the world.

Anonymous said...

I don't get the big deal.......nobody (very few) cared about or even knew who Michael Phelps was before Beijing and his 8 gold medals......do people just expect him to be that successful in everything he enters into??? His whole life has been consumed by swimming for at least 10 years now! Give the guy a break! Let him be 25 for once without giving him crap about it! NOBODY else in the swimming world is under a magnifying glass like he is.......everything he does is blown out of proportion! Maybe he just needs sometime to figure out what he still wants to do in the sport. There have been some MAJOR changes for the good that I have noticed.......he's coming back down to Earth and taking time for his fans. His life is changing, he's getting older and maturing.........he's going to do what he feels is best for HIM. I think EVERYONE needs to respect the decisions in regards to his swimming that he makes, he's the one spending hours everyday in the pool and CONSTANTLY under pressure, NOT YOU!

Bill Ireland said...

For Phelps, he has 3 more meets that really matter--trials, London and Worlds. The other meets don't matter. Pan Pacs are in the really don't matter much category. Worlds are in the matter a little but not much category.

For what I've seen of him, he has seemed as gracious as any other swimmer, and more than most. Its a pretty competitive sport and acknowledging your competitors while pointing out the reasons why you didn't swim your best is pretty standard. Heck I do that when I'm complimenting my competitors in an ocean swim. He's a better interview than Spitz. or Biondi or anyone else I can think of in the interim. He's not terrible, he's not great.

The real test of how he has prepared from 2008 to 2012 will be in London--not Irvine or wherever Nationals are next year. We are all a little spoiled by his past performance. 10 years ago we would not expect any swimmer to do more than 2 events and a couple relays in a lengthy meet. When he only swims a 100 fly in world record textile suit pace on a relay, we are commenting that he didn't go a PR in the 200 IM right before.

He's actually doing everything right in terms of backing off--his coach is the one who pushed him into an event that he had not trained for to teach him some "lesson". It might be a good idea. It might not be. I really don't know.

Anonymous said...

I'm just wondering where anyone other than his coach and/or sponsers gets off judging this man at all. He has accomplished things in swimming NEVER before done and had a dedication above and beyond many. The fact that he has a supposed poor work ethic only shows that he is burned out. I've been there...Maybe the man wants a BREAK, a life! I think he has more than earned it with past performances. If he doesn't put the time in now and looses to other competitors, well, that is on him. Why nail him to a cross over it? He's allowing others to have the limelight if he doesn't put in the time. How is that disrespectful to his competitors? If they beat him in a race, it doesn't matter what he says...the timer says it all. Either he can perform or he can't. If he looses he looses. I see that as good, because others deserve to have a shot at getting rewards for their hard work. Horray for them that he's not on his game. That's how the competitive world works. It doesn't change the fact that they beat him if they did.
Whatever, I just see a bunch of jealous judgemental people who think they could live his life better than he if they were in his shoes. Guaranteed, you wouldn't. You would feel the pressure of burnout puffing over your shoulder. And you probably would have folded from it long ago, so give the man a break. From my OWN experience, sometimes ppl need to take a break when and how they can in order to keep fresh for the long haul. It is a risk to do it the way he is doing it, but when he starts loosing enough and his times start bothering him enough he will make the decision whether to get off his butt and focus again, or just let it go. But this is HIS decision, and I support whatever he decides to do. Pro sports are not mentally easy, and they don't really allow people to have a well rounded life...maybe he just wants to experience more life outside the pool and workouts for once. Besides, he is young! What has he experienced of life so far outside the pool? Most others partied their butts off in college. Has he had time to do this? Get off his case.

Tony Austin said...

I am not jealous of Michael Phelps. I would not trade places with him and he would not trade places with me.

He does need a break - but he jobs isn't done yet. in 1.5 years it will be. Till then, he has to be a dignified gentleman