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JACOBER: Phelps… The Best Ever?

Ron Jacober
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(photo credit: AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

(photo credit: AFP/AFP/Getty Images)

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Is Michael Phelps the greatest Olympian in history? Some will still be debating the question four years from now at the opening ceremonies at the Rio Olympics.

Sebastian Coe – now Lord Coe – a member of Parliament and chairman of the London Olympic committee, answered the question saying that Phelps is the most accomplished Olympian, but not the greatest. Coe has credibility. He won four Olympic medals and held several world records as a middle distance runner. But, his comment was a little harsh and he did not say who he thought was the greatest ever.

Phelps is a polarizing guy. I have trouble understanding why so many people dislike him. Why do they resent his remarkable talent and success? He’s got an edge and is a little cocky. Who wouldn’t be if they were that good.

But back to the question about the greatest Olympic athlete. Coe would have been more accurate if he had said the Phelps is the most accomplished but it’s impossible to call anyone the greatest because there’s no formula to compare sports or eras. Phelps has the advantage of participating in a sport with so many medal events. He had the option of swimming in 8 events in the games giving him that many medal opportunities. That’s certainly helped him win the staggering number of medals. Greatest ever? Well, I can’t imagine who else it could be.

So, what happens after an American athlete wins an Olympic medal? Guess who comes calling–the IRS! Hard to believe but true. The United States Olympic committee rewards medalists with honorariums. A gold medal brings the athlete $25,000, silver will get you $15,000 and bronze is worth 10 grand. So, Missy Franklin, who has yet to cash in on her fame with endorsements, will have a tax bill of about $15,000 or more as a thank you for making America proud and winning Olympic events. Wouldn’t you think there could be an exemption for these athletes who have spent thousand of hours and dollars to represent the U.S. in the games? Doesn’t look like it. Washington needs more money to waste.

Stop the hugs! I really enjoy watching the games but I think the athletes have set a new world record for hugs. Is it really necessary to hug every teammate after every routine? Give it a rest!

And, will the male divers put on a swim suit? What’s the deal with the “mankini” or whatever it’s call. I know they are men so there’s no need to prove it by showing the equipment.

And, finally, if Andrea Kremer, the head bobbing NBC reporter, asks one more athlete “what was going through your mind”, I might throw up. Is she capable of asking an intelligent question?

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