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Robert A. Mills

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Blogs by Robert A. Mills

PHELPS
8/11/2012 5:03:48 AM    [ Flag as Spam or Inappropriate ]

By the witching hour (GMT) Sunday, August 12, the 30th Olympiad from London will be history, so let us be totally honest — do any of us really give a rat’s patooty about Michael Phelps? Or is he just a tall, fairly unattractive fellow who happens to be an American who has won twenty medals, considerably more than the entire country of India? The fact that he bears an uncanny resemblance to a young Abe Lincoln has nothing to do with it. Right?

Of course, he is a professional athlete (now). I don’t know who said it (after watching 362,968 hours on NBC from London, I am amazed I can remember my own name) but someone said a professional athlete is not much different from a professional nose-picker.

He may have a point (or a booger) there.

The only major difference I can see is that there are more professional nose-pickers than there are professional athletes.

Look around you. In this country alone, there are 5,836,792 high school and college kids who have the ability to be NFL, MLB, NBA, PGA or NHL stars. However, only 1,319 will ever make a professional roster.

Another 1,782,567 could play successfully at Wimbledon — but only 129 ever will. Figures for soccer, diving, volleyball, track/field, water polo and dressage are even more staggering. But do not get me started on the Olympics, either the summer-or winter venues.

Mr. Phelps has retired from competitive swimming. He has decided to take his medals and go home. Or, as he told NBC’s Bob Costas, he plans to play some golf and travel the world. His mother, a sort of cherubic Liz Taylor (it is a bit of a stretch, I know), is anxious for him to compete in Rio de Janeiro in 2016. But no. He is retired. At 27. Good for him.

But what about the nose-pickers? At last count there were 9,268,916,477,03 professionals in this country, the world, and the universe — and eventually all of them will wind up waiting at a red light next to me, and not one will ever win an Olympic medal.

It begs the question . . . is Michael Phelps any different? Only in that at age 27 he has twenty medals to prove his merit. Most us have only twenty unused Kleenexes and besmudged index fingers.

What then makes a professional? Webster’s Unabridged says it is a person who gets paid to perform. But what about the Olympics? Are participants amateurs or are they professionals?

Again, according to Webster’s Unabridged, the Olympic games are “a Panhellenic festival [dedicated to Zeus in Athens, Greece, originating in 776 b.c.] and made up of contests of sports, music and literature with the victor’s prize a crown of wild olive [and various other mementoes, etc. but no mention of “medals”]; a modified (1896) version of Olympic Games consisting of international athletes are held [in selected cities] in four year intervals,.” And so on.

I did note, however, that the participants originally performed naked — where their outfits were actually created apparently did not cause an incident back then.

Also, no hint is given of either amateurism or professionalism — it seems we have succumbed over the years to the idea you have to be an “amateur” to participate, a requirement promulgated by our grandparents and beyond. Actually, anyone is welcome to try out — even professional nose-pickers like you!

So, it does not matter if you are an Andy Murray or a Michael Phelps. If you can cut the mustard as an Olympian, no matter what your official status, just slip on your jockstrap and go for it. If you do not wear a jockstrap, then slip into your colorful tights and head for the gym, the track or the barn.

As a ranking amateur, will you walk away from the Olympics empty-handed? Hardly. A gold medal is estimated to be worth $162,698; a silver $137,924; a bronze $116,572. And that is just for a single endorsement!

Any idea what your pix on a cereal box or a soft drink can will net?

Of course, Lebron James, Colby Bryant and Roger Federer do it just for kicks. Same as Bob Costas, Ryan Seacrest, Mary Carillo, and John McEnroe et al.



Copyright©2012 by Robert A. Mills, all rights reserved


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