Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Sport For Thought: The Michael Jordan of the Swimming Pool

Michael Jordan. Michael Phelps. Both of these athletes have dominated and are undoubtedly the greatest athletes in their respective sports. But can you believe they have both failed at the same thing? It seems that Phelps' time playing golf was not as enjoyable as he originally planned when entering retirement. Being the greatest at a sport is not all they have in common after Phelps' recent and shocking decision last week of ending his retirement. After completely one of the most legendary and decorated careers in basketball history and announcing his retirement, Michael Jordan could not last long away from the court. Michael Phelps seems to be taking a similar route as Jordan by coming out a retirement a year after completing one of the most decorated careers in Olympic history.
After announcing his retirement at the London games, the world thought we have seen the last of Michael Phelps in the pool. But following a dominating performance entering his thirties, many doubted if that would really be the end to an illustrious career full of gold medals, unforgettable moments, and front-page controversy. Phelps would have definitely been missed, after becoming an American staple at the summer Olympics since 2000 at the Sydney Games. Twenty-two medals later, he was able to leave not just athletes and Americans, in awe, but the billions of people who tuned in to watch the Olympics.

Having yet another elite athlete come out of retirement further proves just how difficult it is for an athlete to put a halt to something they have done their entire life.  When you are playing a sport for such a majority of your life, it is difficult to retire because many times the athlete becomes bored not knowing what to do with the rest of their life. Phelps and Jordan both exhausted so many hours in the pool or on the court, they cannot just relax and do nothing for once.

But there is a time when an athlete has to say goodbye to a sport they have played their entire life. It is unimaginable to throw in the towel and allow the younger generations of athletes take over and even try to live up to what both Michael’s were able to do. Not every swimmer is a human fish like Phelps or has the ability to hit impressive high-flying dunks and buzzer beaters like Jordan.

I am glad to see the face of swimming making a come back and have the opportunity to continue witnessing such an incredible athlete and competitor in the pool. Sure my expectations are not that high, but how much can we really expect after he took two years off? But, I would not be very surprised if he leaves Rio with a few more medals to add to his collection because of how competitive he is. It is hard to imagine that he would consider a comeback if he did not believe he would be able to compete with the younger competition in the sport.
It will be difficult for Phelps to repeat his success at the 2016 Summer Games in Rio, but we can only hope it is not as embarrassing as the second time Jordan came out of retirement. Hopefully Phelps won’t make the same mistake twice like Jordan and come out of retirement two times. Phelps’ return will just give us all another reason to tune into the Rio Games in 2016 to witness if he can do the unthinkable and beat everyone’s expectations.


Alexa Fontanella is a freshman Sport Management Major at Drexel University, from Totowa, NJ. This winter she will be working with Drexel Athletics on marketing strategies and game day operations for the Drexel Dragons basketball team. Alexa is looking forward to participating in her first co-op next fall and is excited for such an amazing opportunity. She is a huge New York Sports fan, specifically the Yankees and the Nets. 

Follow Alexa on Twitter @Lexa_Font4 and connect with her on LinkedIn.

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