By Eric Zanzucchi (@ericzanzucchi)
I know what you’re thinking. Two Michael Phelps stories in one blog is a bit much. But Tuesday in London Michael Phelps won his nineteenth medal breaking the Olympic record. It was previously held by Larisa Latynina.
I’m not sure who Larisa Latynina is or what country she’s from. It made me wonder what the perception of Michael Phelps is going to be in the future. I think he’ll be ignored by the current generation the minute he stops winning.
This idea of medal accumulation has become such an odd emphasis. I’m not trying to take anything away from Phelps, but rather our perception of him (Which I realize is the same thing.). Why do we care about the sheer accumulation of medals for essentially doing the same thing? There’s all these different lengths of races and strokes each allowing him to earn a new medal, but for a lot of sports it’s only possible to earn a single medal. Why don’t we have the Olympic basketball players have a dunk contest or play games of H.O.R.S.E.?
I just can’t imagine Phelps stares at his 15 golds and 19 total medals and feels 15-19 better than those who are only competing for one and win. It would make sense now for the Olympics to add more and more events in certain sports just to generate interest because if not for Phelps the swimming storylines would be lacking.
Phelps is a great athlete and all, but I just feel like he’s going to have a very awkward place in Olympic history.