Michael Phelps is a man of many persona’s. Subway pitchman? Guy with the crazy diet? United States Olympic hero? Partier? Philanthropist? Likely, you would choose some combination of all those things. Although there are always haters out there, it is tough for them to find material on Phelps. Today, he announced his retirement. As sports fans, we have been lucky to witness the most decorated Olympian of all time. It is a relatively easy argument to call him the best swimmer of all time. After we take a moment to reflect on his greatness, the question arises: What’s next for Phelps?
Total Medals– 72
Olympic– 18 Gold, 4 Silver
World Championship– 38 Gold, 9 Silver, 3 Bronze
World Records– 39 (more than any other swimmer in history)
Now that you have numbers to bust out when somebody challenges you to a 'greatest Olympian argument', let's try and dissect what Phelps will do next. An AP article published today quotes Phelps, "there are other things that I want to do in my life, and I'm not sure staring at a black line for four hours a day is one of those." Many different angles have been taken on this story already, so it's best to give a summary and let you figure it out.
Regular citizen– For now Phelps wants to stop. Very simply, he wants to travel, engage in leisurely activities, and sleep. There was also mention in this story about Phelps doing some TV analysis, poker, playing video games and golf, traveling, and cage-diving with sharks. Must be nice.
Philanthropist– Phelps' track record as a philanthropist is already superb. In 2008, he donated a $1 million bonus from Speedo to set up the Micheal Phelps Foundation, which promotes healthy lifestyle. The Huffington Post is reporting that Phelps is planning to have his foundation comprise much of the next chapter in his life. Phelps, who focuses on ensuring that kids learn how to swim, discusses fear of kids not being able to enjoy the sport of swimming:
“There are a lot of pools being shut down, and kids are not able to come out and enjoy it like I did growing up,” “I think over time, hopefully, I will have the opportunity to make an impact to cities and states all over the world and hopefully be able to change that.”
Football fan– NBC’s Pro Football Talk, is loving a recent interview in USA Today with Phelps. He discusses his love for the Ravens and says he plans on playing fantasy football this season. He also brags about an epic fantasy season last year, and talks about his plans to prepare for two weeks prior to his team’s fantasy draft.
Phelps should be fine as a philanthropist and football fan, but has no chance to be treated like a regular guy. If I were him, I would not expect to live a life anywhere close to normal. TMZ is already airing a story about Phelps bringing some gold medals into the club with him to show off. A vacation, a lot of personal time, and sleep are much needed for Phelps after announcing his retirement today. After the dust settles, he is well rested, and perhaps herbally enlightened, Michael Phelps should accept his status as a guy who is not regular. Although he has completely earned the right to sit and do nothing for the rest of his life, Phelps should not. With his earnings, image, and work ethic, he should continue to be a philanthropist and role model to kids, athletes, and swimmers everywhere.