I have written about the participatory panopticon before (we live in public, sousveilance, cia torture taxi’s, Jamais Casio @ accelerating change, Condi caught) – but more in the abstract about stories in the news. This is the Huffington Post article about the photo of michael phelps.
This story strikes more close to home. I was, in my first career, an athlete competing at the Olympic level. In 1996 I was an “olympic year tournament” for Women’s water polo (only the men competed in the olympics) in 1998 I played in the World Championships in Perth Australia and in 1999 I won a gold medal at the Pan American Games (an event run by the Olympic committees of countries in north and south america). I also retired following that event and the following year many of my friends on the National team and college team competed in the Olympic Games. (if you want to see some of what is on the web re: that time of life for me search “Kaliya Young” & “water polo” )
So with this caveat – we were very dedicated athletes – we trained hard, we never went out and partied while we in Montreal our training home base – (a notorious “party town”). After a big event – like any one of the tournaments listed above we would for a brief night or two – take a break – go out and yes many of on the team would get drunk. ((No one our team didn’t have any pot heads on it but the difference between Pot and Alcohol is minimal.)) Some of us on those evening would do things that wouldn’t be great to have posted on the internet for posterity. That is to say maybe 3 times a year many of our team would celebrate together out and get slightly inebriated.
In sports you get insulated – all you do is TRAIN – TRAIN – TRAIN. You don’t party or socialize much at all. I spent 20 hours a week for years in the water at the peak of my training with no summer’s off, no christmas’ – maybe 10 days a year off to visit my family. Michael Phelps was probably spending 30-40 hours a week being an athlete. So once you win – and Phelps won big – you take a break – you go and do a few things in moderation that people your age do all the time every week. Give him a break.
In reading this quote the thing that I think the person who decided to break the veil of his privacy – to “out” his supposed indiscretion should be outed too….
Whoever it was who had the camera to hand to snap Phelps apparently smoking marijuana through a glass pipe, somewhat unfortunately called a bong, made a few quid, but, in those few seconds, Phelps lost his reputation, his aura and, possibly, tens of millions of dollars in earnings from sponsors.