The Athletic Reporter
September 12, 2005 Sports News the Way You Want It. Completely Made Up. Issue 127
 
Life of US Olympic Swimmer Michael Phelps Dangerously Low on Adversity, NBC Executives Fear
Originally posted 8/9/2004

US Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps has his arm torn off by a bear in a 2002 incident that NBC executives wish had really happened
ATHENS - Executives for the NBC television network, which will broadcast the Summer Olympics from Athens, Greece, announced fears this week that the life of United States swimmer and gold medal hopeful Michael Phelps, 19, has been dangerously low on adversity.

"Nobody in his family died of cancer last month," said NBC Sports spokesman Kevin Sullivan of Phelps, whom many consider a threat to break Mark Spitz's record of seven gold medals in a single Olympics. "He never lived in one of those dirty countries where he had to dodge gunfire as he swam... we have no idea how we're going to go about profiling him, to be honest."

"I'm just going to relax, try to take it one race at a time," said Phelps of his chances to win seven gold medals or more. Phelps, who holds world records in the 200 meter butterfly and the 200 and 400 meter individual medleys, will compete in eight events in Sydney. "If everything goes wrong, in a total worst-case scenario, I might only win three or four gold medals and only get a few commercials and talk show appearances, instead of dozens and dozens."

"We're batting around a few ideas," Sullivan said. "When Michael turned pro at 16 and signed a six-figure contract with Speedo, he wanted to buy a new Cadillac Escalade, but his mom made him buy a used one. Can you imagine having to go back out and swim after something like that? Huh? Huh? Oooo, painful. If you think about it, he's just like that marathon runner from Guinea-Bissau who was born without any legs and survived by eating grass and tree bark until he was 26."

"I'm confident," said NBC Universal Television Networks Group president Randy Falco, "that our swimming coverage will find a way showcase Michael Phelps as a young man who has overcome tremendous adversity to arrive at the Olympic stage, as have an overwhelmingly large percentage of the competitors we feature on television. We all know that's why people tune in, after all. I mean, if people wanted to see nothing but world-class athletes competing at the highest level for the ultimate prizes their sports have to offer, they certainly wouldn't watch the Olympics."

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