Friday, August 15, 2008
Why I like Michael Phelps
Let me begin by saying I like Michael Phelps, and you should too. The Olympics is not a time to play the "Too Cool for School" card and stay off the bandwagon; when a fellow countryman is going for 8 gold medals in one Olympic year, you root for him. End of story.
Now let me explain why I like Michael Phelps.
Last night while watching what had to be hovering around my 23rd hour of Olympics, NBC showed a Michael Phelps graphic explaining why he was the best swimmer in the world.
They showed his big feet, his long wingspan, his stubby legs and Herculean torso. The announcers also pointed out that Phelps is double-jointed in the knees, shoulders, elbows, ankles, tailbone, index fingers and jaw. He was for a swimmer, as they put it, built perfectly.
I respect that theory, but I think Phelps is the world's greatest swimmer for another reason: HE WORKS LIKE A POSSESSED MAN-BEAST.
I guess in the ever-going Nature vs. Nurture debate, you could find me solidly in the "nurture" camp. Don't get me wrong, genetics certainly play a part--but stubby legs and a huge wingspan will only get you about one tenth of the way to a gold medal.
The rest? Work. Work like this. Every single day. Even Christmas.
The NBC guys mentioned each of Phelps' workouts burn 4,000 calories. To give you some perspective, a 200 pound man running a marathon at an average of 10 minutes per mile will burn 3956.2 calories. Michael Phelps does that every day and then some.
The guy is a machine, and that's why I like him.
Long ago Michael Phelps made a decision, or a series of decisions, that put him on this path. He decided to be the very best swimmer in the world, and he worked very, very hard to reach that goal. There was some natural talent, without a doubt, but if there's one thing we all learned from The Natural: Talent isn't enough.
Yes, I like Michael Phelps because he is a great olympian, but I respect him because he has complete control of his life. He mastered himself, you could say.
I have endless respect for people who can turn their frail little human bodies into fine-tuned machines. It's beautiful to me--artistic. Michael Phelps and every athlete like him is a living testament to the potential which the human body can achieve. They are proof that these bodies of ours can be tamed, sculpted, trained and put to work.
When dedication, commitment, steel nerves, good decisions and the power of the mind work in concert with the miracle of the human body something special happens.
Something like Michael Phelps.
Here's to those who train, but don't abuse, the human body--and achieve greatness as a result.