Olympics

Fine, I’ll Say It. Michael Phelps is Overrated

Over-hyped. Clap. Clap. Clapclapclap. Over-hyped. Clap. Clap. Clapclapclap.

I know, I know. But hear me out.

Michael Phelps, the U.S. Olympic golden boy, isn’t overrated athletically. He’s amazing, of course. In Beijing he’s 5-for-5. As in gold medals and world records. We’re all impressed down here on Earth. Inspired even.

Best swimmer ever? Fine. Most decorated U.S. Olympian ever? Non-negotiable. But best Olympian ever? Hold your equestrian horses.

Spewed NBC’s Dan Hicks last night, “He’s Tiger in a Speedo.”

I’m not denying that Phelps is fantastic. Just sayin’ that isn’t part of his quality a by-product of inordinate quantity? He wins everything. But he also gets a chance to win everything.

I say Dallas’ Michael Johnson was just as impressive in Atlanta. Gold shoes. Unprecedented double. Not even water in his goggles. And, don’t forget, Carl Lewis won golds in both track (100 meters) and field (long jump) at the same Games. Let’s see Phelps win a gold in 3-meter platform diving, then I’ll rush out for his Wheaties’ box.

Phelps benefits from a sport that hands out hardware as liberally as parents passing out Ritalin at a sleepover. This week alone he’s won the freestyle, backstroke, butterfly, individual medley, jitterbug and tonight I think he’s the fave in the dog paddle.

Take American volleyballers Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh, for example. The duo not only looks much better than Phelps in their micro-bottoms, they’ve gone a year a full year without a loss. As good as Phelps is in the water, they’re better in the sand. How about 457-18 since the summer of ’04?

Problem is, they have to win like seven matches just to earn one medal. Imagine if beach volleyball awarded golds for best serve, dig, bump, dink, set, spike and tan line? If you see my point, welcome to the minority. Plenty of room in here.

If not, well, I think that brings me back ‘round to my original point. -- Richie Whitt

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Richie Whitt
Contact: Richie Whitt