Random Conversation

After Michael Phelps won his 8th gold medal:

Dad: He is going to get so many millions in endorsements now… he’ll be more famous than Michael Jordan. Everyone in the world is watching this.

Me: He won’t be that famous. Other countries aren’t paying that much attention to him. China doesn’t know who Phelps is. They’re just paying attention to basketball.

Dad: They’re just watching Ho Chi Minh.

Me: You mean Yao Ming?

Dad: Same thing.

  • Jen

    A friend and I were arguing over whether it would be better to go to the Olympics or have a normal childhood. She wanted to go to the Olympics, and I was content to have gotten to have a normal childhood. Sure, its cool to be Michael Phelps, and I bet he ends up on a Wheaties box, but think of all the other Olympics athletes no one cares about: most of them- we only even see certain events on tv. If an Olympic athlete wins an event, and we are watching Michael Phelps, then did the winner really win? No. Also, it has to be really, really expensive to have all those lessons.

  • Ron in Houston

    Sounds like Dad needs to catch up on Asian current events.

  • http://noadi.blogspot.com Noadi

    I have a different perspective on this having known several Olympic athletes (I live in an area where a lot of top skiers and snow boarders grow up or come to train).

    They love their sports and love competing, going to the Olympics is a dream most athletes don’t reach and just getting there is huge for them. Being seen on tv is great but most care more about being at the Olympics than if anyone watches them on tv, it’s competing they care about over being famous.

    Of course these are the athletes I’ve known and the sample size is small, four Olympians and a handful of other athletes who reached the top of their sport but not the Olympics. Maybe it’s different for athletes in the sexier sports that make athletes into celebrities.

  • Larry Huffman

    Jen…I have known several olympic athletes in my life. One was a bronze medal winner and the others also rans. They are older now, and their olympic experiences, including all of the preperations and training and sacrifice of time, childhood, family and friends…was worth it to them. Further, their families and friends gained so much just from having their loved one friend compete. The pride the parents have when they tell of their son who almost made it to the medal round in a rowing event. They do not need Wheaties boxes…even if they had a hope for that.

    No…most athletes that compete in the olympics…especially those in the more obscure events…are there for the love of their sport and the experience. Of course they want to win…they are competitors. But the one thing worse than losing to a competetor, is to not compete at all.

  • Spork

    However did you manage any sort of self confidence growing up in the shadow of such a mighty intellect?

  • Polly

    While watching the Olympics I couldn’t help feeling incredibly envious. Phelps’s whole job is…swimming. I would love for my “career” to be skiing,snowboarding,swimming, whatever.
    Work sucks, but pursuing a sport you love has got to be a cut above the normal workaday life even if you NEVER end up on a Wheaties box.

  • http://inthenuts.blogspot.com King Aardvark

    Polly, the hard thing is that for most of the athletes (especially the Canadian ones – we’re poor) their sport isn’t their whole jobs. Funding isn’t that good. Many work part time jobs or go to school, etc. That’s a lot of hard work.

  • Polly

    King Aardvark,

    And that’s why I consider this whole thing a competition of athletic budgets more than a level competition of pure athletic ability. Certainly, hearing about the NASA inspired material of Phelps’s swimming suit added to that.

    But, I suppose that could be said about any competition.


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