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Monday, August 18, 2008

How the Media Got Michael Phelps Wrong...

The media "avalanche coverage" of Micheal Phelps historic achievement in the 29th Olympiads has been beyond ad naseum; it can literally be compared to the phenomenon of "total war." Now, we all have to agree that Bob Costas' analysis borders between the manic and the absurd, somewhere in the midst of disembodied poetics and ridiculous metaphors. But what is really unforgivable is the comparisons being made to Tiger Woods, Micheal Jordan, and other sports illuminati. Well, I hate to say it here, but the media has gotten Michael Phelps all wrong... and I mean DEAD WRONG. (Imagine that, the media being wrong!) I have two words for NBC... (well, more like a first name and last name):

BOBBY FISCHER, chess Grand Master & World Champion

Sure, so what if Bobby Fischer was an athlete of the mind and not the body, not to mention a rabid anti-Semetic and sadly a paranoid schizophrenic? What's wrong with those fact despite that one of them is inexcusable? We are talking about accomplishment here, right? am I drawing a false analogy? I doubt it. If we look deeply at what Michael Phelps did over the last week or so, we can see the connection to Fischer's career quite clearly. In order words, Michael Jordan must eat his heart out--he's never been compared to Bobby Fischer (as far as I know). Consider what Fischer did against Karpov: the great competitive match that determined the so-called American dominance of the strength of mind smack dead center in the middle of the Cold War. Phelps himself confessed to Brian Williams the other night that what keeps him going is resistance and "ultimate dislike of losing." That same competitiveness was Bobby Fischer's alone for a long, long time... way before the Michael Jordans and Tiger Woods, and God knows which other temporary sports "flash in a pan." Perhaps the only other comparable sports figure would be Muhammad Ali (consider the great fight against George Foreman in which Ali was one of the widest underdogs ever recorded in the history of sports).

There's no doubt that the way Michael Phelps swims is a physical feat (as Merrian-Webster defines feat: a deed of notable courage: an act or product of skill, endurance, or ingenuity). What Bobby Fischer accomplished can only be described in those very same terms. Want another connection to this seemingly unwarranted comparison? Bobby Fischer posed for covers of Life and Sports Illustrated magazines with Mark Spitz.... name sounds familiar? He is the former Olympic star that held the swimming gold medal record until Phelps broke it last week. Your readership, I rest my case... the media has vastly misinterpreted and misread what Michael Phelps accomplished this past week.

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