Agganis Lives

   Don't partake of ANYTHING if there are strangers in the room and somebody has either a digital camera or cell phone.

   So a 23-year-old took a bong hit at a college party. As Matt Foley, Motivational Speaker, would say, la-de-freakin'-da!

   Because some famewhore with a surruptitious camera sold a shot to some sleazy British tabloid, the whole world's morality gavel is coming down on Michael Phelps. We're a nation in financial crisis, Barack Obama admitted to a grave political error in nominating a Wall Street greedhead to his Cabinet, and still, much of the media focus today is on the question of whether Phelpsie will lose some lucrative endorsements.

   Yes, the hype and millions Mike raked in from eight gold medals in Beijing were a little disproportionate, and his appearance on SNL proved he's no Dwayne Johnson. But a little perspective, please.

   Watching the hosts of tabloid entertainment shows moralize on Phelpsie's tuckus like Bill O'Reilly and Michelle Malkin on a Democrat was a little much, but that's what these folks get paid to do. And my hometown paper went to a high school swim meet to record the tut-tutting of young swimmers and swim moms (and even Olympic teammate Elizabeth Beisel, back at North Kingstown High, although her day of fame may well be coming in 3 1/2 years). Slow local news day.

   But this story really hit critical mass upside my skull when the publicity-hungry sheriff of Richland County, S.C., decided he'd like to arrest himself an Olympic gold medalist.

   Or, if you've ever read Tom Wolfe's "Bonfire of the Vanities," The Great White Defendant.

   Now, the issue is not about whether Mike broke the law by sparking up. (He did, although it didn't endanger people like his DUI four years ago, which is much more serious business as far as I'm concerned.)

   I would take Sheriff Red Light much more seriously if he made a regular habit of arresting those photographed with marijuana or marijuana paraphenalia. If he routinely pored through the Facebook pages of University of South Carolina students and snagged everybody proudly holding a jay aloft, or every underage student  cheerfully swigging a bottle of JD or Southern Comfort...I might question his zeal, but not his fairness.

   But Red Light has visions of appearances on Bill O'Reilly and Nancy Grace's shows dancing in his head, and he won't get it by arresting just some ordinary kid. He's got to go for the gold, if you catch my drift.

   Let he or she who did not partake of the international herb at 23 cast the first stone. Same for the corporations who continue to let athletes, rappers, actors, etc. with rap sheets that include things like assault, weapons and domestic violence charges and convictions endorse their products.

   P.S.: Has anybody discovered performance-enhancing capabilities in marijuana? (And I'm asking you too, Bill Walton.) If Phelpsie hit the pool in Beijing with THC running around his veins, that makes his performance...well...beyond legendary.



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