The roster is set for the U.S. swim team that will take on the world in Kazan, Russia next summer and one name is, of course, conspicuous by its absence.
Michael Phelps is in rehab and serving a six-month suspension from the sport, following his second DUI arrest. His court date has been postponed until Dec. 19.
When Ryan Lochte, who’ll lead the American men at the world championships, said Phelps’ DUI “sucked” for swimming, this is what he meant. Of course, this is an opportunity for other swimmers to step up on the blocks and shine. But there’s no question, too, that the team would’ve been stronger with him than without him, and his arrest throws into jeopardy his competing in the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janiero, because it’s all about the build-up of training.
Yes, yes, yes, of course, there are more important considerations here, like addiction, like the possibility of a drunk driver killing or injuring someone. But those concerns are somehow buffeted by the games men play when elite athletes are concerned.
Meanwhile, you just know that if Phelps played for his beloved Baltimore Ravens, he’d be back on the field already. Adrian Peterson, the Minnesota Viking star who pleaded no contest to misdemeanor reckless assault for taking a switch to his 4-year-old, has filed a grievance to be reinstated. The league will hear it Monday, Nov. 17.
I look for Peterson to be back in action by Nov. 23. Football, unlike swimming, is a billion-dollar business with teams – real and fantasy – hanging in the playoff balance.
Sadly, the welts of a 4-year-old can’t stand up to that.