Opinion

Another Round With Michael Phelps

Marc Sterne Producer, "The Tony Kornheiser Show"

It’s amazing. Whenever there is news about Michael Phelps (especially if it’s bad news) my cell phone blows up with people letting me know, and asking what I think. I never intended to be the official Michael Phelps commentator, but since he and I had our run-in over a limo ride and he acted like a jackass, it seems our fates are intertwined.

There is some news out right now that isn’t exactly great for him. Like the Bard said, “When sorrows come, they come not as single spies, but in battalions.” Never has that been truer for Michael Phelps, who was was arrested for drunk driving last month and then went to rehab.

Just as he is getting out of rehab, a story breaks that his girlfriend is transgender. Taylor Lianne Chandler has come out and said that not only was she dating the Olympic champion, but also that she was born with male genitalia and with a uterus. Her birth name apparently was David Roy Fitch, but she changed her name when she was a teenager, and eventually had surgery to fully become a woman. She further claims that Phelps had no idea that she was transgender, but that after the two met on the internet dating site Tinder, they became involved in a sexual relationship.

Now, I know there are a lot of you out there who want me to grab at the low hanging fruit and make some crass jokes about her and her background. Sorry to disappoint you, but I’m going to leave that for the locker rooms. What does bother me about this, though, is that it’s another glaring example of tremendously bad judgment on the part of Mr. Phelps. This guy is our greatest Olympic champion – no wait, check that – the greatest Olympic champion of all time. Doesn’t he need to comport himself with a little more dignity than trolling the web to get laid? I know that if I were a sponsor of Phelps, I’d have buyers’ remorse right now. Who knows – he might be one more bad weekend away from doing a reality show with Amanda Bynes and Tonya Harding. Come to think of it, if we could get former Toronto Mayor Rob Ford on board, that actually might be worth watching.

In some respects though, it’s hard to blame Phelps — especially since another Olympic hero didn’t set the bar very high. Once upon a time, Bruce Jenner was America’s best. An inspiration to the country. He was on the damn Wheaties box! Now he’s just a guy who got freakishly bad plastic surgery, and helped foist the plague known as the Kardashians upon the world. And by the way, what the hell is Phelps doing on Tinder? I’m not saying that it’s a bad place to be for the average citizen, but for a guy who’s won 22 Olympic medals – are you kidding me?

How bad is this guys’ game with women, that he needs to go to a hook up site? I always thought that when you reached his level of celebrity you’d just call your agent and have them set you up with someone. “Yeah, it’s me again. So I was watching the AT&T ad, and I think the girl in it is really hot – can you book me a date with her? Great – yeah tell her I’ll meet her at Pickles after the O’s game!”

I’ll be honest, the whole thing is pretty pathetic. He gets caught on camera smoking a bong, gets arrested for DUI, and now he apparently hooked up with someone who we’ll just say has a pretty complicated history. Keep it up Phelps, and your great legacy will have been transformed into a punch line for the rest of your life. But you definitely reap what you sow, and until we find out that this whole thing was an internet hoax, I’ll just smile and rest content with the knowledge that the Gods of Karma are on my side.