The last seven days in the world of sports have been about as exciting as you could ever dream of.
After years of lopsided blowouts, this year’s Super Bowl ended up being anything but. The Pittsburgh Steelers outlasted the Arizona Cardinals 27-23 in a highly-enjoyable game that somehow managed to raise the bar with the final three minutes of nonstop action.
Arizona’s defense got a safety, wide out Larry Fitzgerald finally busted free for a 64-yard touchdown to give the Cards their first lead of the day with 2:37 to play and the Steelers responded with a clutch drive to steal back the win and earn their sixth championship of the Super Bowl era. Paired with last year’s upset victory by the New York Giants, we’ve probably been treated to the two most exciting back-to-back conclusions in Super Bowl history. (And if you live in Tucson, Arizona you got a whole other “happy ending.”)
In addition to the most watched Super Bowl ever, we were also treated to Georges St-Pierre dispatching B.J. Penn in what very well might have been the UFC’s biggest fight ever.
The St-Pierre-Penn rematch for the UFC welterweight title Saturday night headlined the most anticipated mixed martial arts pay-per-view ever and yet, somehow delivered. St-Pierre surprisingly dominated the smaller Penn in a four-round victory and now Penn’s people are accusing St-Pierre’s corner of knowingly cheating by using Vaseline illegally during the fight. Even though the fight has come and gone, this issue is far from over with Penn debating whether to formally file a complaint and request an investigation on the matter.
In basketball, Kobe Bryant dropped a record 61 points on the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden, Feb. 2. The controversial superstar was in a league of his own Monday night, hitting 19 of 31 shots and connecting on all 20 free throws attempted during a 126-117 win over the Knicks that had New Yorkers chanting “M-V-P! M-V-P!”
Two days later LeBron James did his best to match Bryant, scoring 52 points and recording a triple double in Cleveland’s 107-102 win over the Knicks at Madison Square Garden. Two of the biggest names in basketball simply exploded on the biggest stage during the week everyone’s looking for something to capture their attention now that football season is over. And yet, all anyone is talking about is Michael Phelps smoking weed.
Some British tabloid called News of the World published a story and photo over the weekend showing Michael Phelps hitting a marijuana pipe roughly three months after the Baltimore native earned a record eight gold medals during the Beijing Olympics and this story somehow continues to dominate the sports pages.
I don’t get it. How is this even newsworthy? We’re talking about an Olympic swimmer who is only relevant once every four years spending his down time like a majority of his age group does. Why are people freaking out about this? We’ve had presidents admit to “rolling a fatty,” as the kids say these days, so how is a 23-year-old taking bong hits Earth shattering?
If anything, this shows that Phelps is actually human. Watching him during the Olympics it seemed like he was half robot, half dolphin as Phelps systematically destroyed the competition in every event he felt like entering. Since then, all was normal in the universe and Phelps went back to being largely irrelevant. Sure, he popped up in a few forgettable commercials and gossip sites posted photos of Phelps hitting the town with a busty former Las Vegas cocktail waitress, but mainstream America had already forgotten him.
Now, the holier than thou crowd is all up in arms over Phelps. Sports columnists are spewing mindless drivel, police are threatening to charge the swimmer and every TV channel is making sure to spend ample time beating the subject into the ground. But why should anyone care?
It’d be one thing if Phelps was found to be using performance-enhancing drugs, but this is pot. If anything, it’s the anti-performance-enhancing drug.
Seriously, my pothead friends don’t do shit. They sit around on their couch alternating between eating cereal out of the box and watching daytime TV. If they’re really feeling rambunctious, they might fire up their video games. But at no point are any of them actually productive members of society. Phelps’ competition can only pray that this is what he becomes.
If anything, folks should realize now that this only makes Phelps a bigger household name. We live in a world where Paris Hilton and Kim Kardashian have porn videos “stolen” and “leaked” online and become name celebrities. This controversy, although Phelps certainly didn’t ask for it, will probably end up causing the same reaction. It’s only a matter of time before we get a reality TV show with Phelps where, much like Hilton and Kardashian, we ultimately learn he’s really not worth investing time and energy into caring about.
It’d be best for everyone involved if we just skipped all of this fuss and let him vanish again until the next Olympics, but we all know that just won’t happen. Just know that when Phelps and Amy Winehouse leak a porno together, it’s all your fault.
Brian Murphy is an award-winning sportswriter who also goes by the name Homer McFanboy. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.