I realized a short time later that I did not do enough research on the 2008 Games, After looking at the ratings for each night it became mathematically evident that Michael Phelps was the focal point of the entire success of the games. In one instance his "most gold medals night" scored 30%-higher than beach volleyball players, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh winning gold medals and Usain Bolt winning gold in the 200-meter dash on the same night.
Here are the top five nights out out of 16-days:
1 - 19.9 share - Phelps breaks most gold medal record - August 17th
2 - 18.8 share - The Opening Ceremonies spectacle - August 8th
3 - 18.1 share - Phelps makes gold from Lezak effort - August 10th
4 - 17.9 share - Liukin all around gymnastics winner - August 14th
5 - 17.8 share - Phelps wins on another relay - August 16th
On 2009 during the FINA World Championships is when we started hearing the excuses for his loses. His first excuse was delivered via surrogate; (his coach, Bob Bowman), that the techsuits created unfair advantages for lesser swimmers and Bowman categorically stated that his boy would not swim for FINA unless they were revised in a big way. FINA could not ban them fast enough. Phelps meant ratings and ratings meant more money for everybody but the swimmers.
Then came the excuses for losing and/or the excuses for bad times. We heard how out of shape he is and/or unprepared. Finally the most used of all, his "wake-up call," which he kept hitting the "snooze button" for month-after-month-after-month.
I wrote in 2010:
According to, Bob Bowman, Phelps still continued to loaf and failed to show up for workouts. Bowman and Phelps even traded expletives regarding his workout attendance. When asked by ESPN what has been going on with his "day job", it was suggested that the French Open EDF, the 2010 USA Swimming Nationals, and the Pan-Pacific Championships were summarily events held during an off year. He credited his lack of workout participation for giving him time to relax, to take up golf, and discover or define who he is as an adult.
"... 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 ..."
With all of this nonsense and drama Phelps is now in a position that it is remotely possible that he may NOT make the US Olympic team or even medal if he does. In 2008 it was laughable to say this for his lead up to Nationals was far more stellar than it has been since 2009.
Now reasonable people can wonder whether Michael Phelps can beat Ryan Lochte or Ricky Berens in the 200-free at Nationals?
Despite all of the above Phelps is still the "center of infinity" come these Olympics. In 25-years from now when he suddenly gets the clarity and wisdom of an 50-year-old-man, he will truly realize George Bernard Shaw's words of wisdom: "Youth is wasted on the young."