Playing Through

There have been many great stoner moments in the history of sports

Playing Through
by C.L. Ipart

My all-time favorite story in The Onion had this headline: "Stoner Architect Drafts All-Foyer Mansion." The story included a blueprint of said mansion, every room identified as a foyer. This is the sort of accomplishment I expect from anyone acquainted with a bong – not individually hauling in more gold medals in one Olympics than all but eight nations.

Don't get me wrong. There have been many great stoner moments in the history of sports. There's first baseman Bill Buckner letting a slow grounder slip through his legs to help lose the 1986 World Series for the Boston Red Sox. There's University of Michigan's Chris Webber calling a time-out his team didn't have, losing the 1993 NCAA basketball championship. There's French golfer Jean Van de Velde, the 1999 British Open virtually in hand, scoring a spectacular triple bogey on the last hole. There's the Portland Trailblazers drafting the unremarkable Sam Bowie over Michael Jordan in the 1984 NBA draft. There's the entire sport of curling.

Now, I don't know for a fact that Buckner, et al., are or were users of recreational narcotics. I'm just saying that if some dude with a camera phone should happen to snap a picture of these people hitting a bong, and hitting it hard, it won't come as a surprise.

Predictably, there has been a lot of tsk-tsking Michael Phelps for committing "the atrocious crime of being a young man," as the 18th century British writer Samuel Johnson once put it. Announcing that it would be terminating the swimmer's endorsement contract, a spokeswoman for Kellogg said, "Michael's most recent behavior is not consistent with the image of Kellogg." On the other hand, his behavior is consistent with the image of Frito-Lay, maker of Doritos, Cheetos, and many other fine products for the munchies. ("Prepare to take snacking to a higher level," goes a company tagline.)

Phelps has also stirred the pride of a vast, untapped demographic. The races that Phelps swam in Beijing are way gnarlier than many people appreciate, his newfound fans have pointed out. Like, you have to pretty much stay in your own lane. And in the medleys, if you mix up the stroke order just a little bit, or lose count of the laps, you're screwed.

In his inauguration address, President Barack Obama told the nation that it was "time to put childish things aside." However, he didn't specifically mention bongs. He never said the words "spliff" or "ganja." That should tell us something. Like, with all of the problems the country is facing, the least of them is what some 23-year-old kid does with his well-earned R&R. One-quarter of the country is obese. Our students suck at math and science. We launched a perfectly asinine war to the tune of $3 trillion. An economy built on pothead illusions of wealth is crashing from its wicked high. The Republican Party is taking its marching order from Oxycontin addict Rush Limbaugh.

The childishness isn't what Phelps did. The childishness is anyone caring for one millisecond about what Phelps did.

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Michael Phelps, Bill Buckner, Chris Webber, Jean Van de Velde, Sam Bowie, Michael Jordan, Samuel Johnson

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