A word about Michael Phelps

Olympic swimming star Michael Phelps really did a number on himself when he was captured on film inhaling marijuana … or did he? I think it depends on what his contract with Kellogg’s stipulated.

The grapevine says that a number of groups in favor of the legalization and/or decriminalization of marijuana intend to organize a boycott of Kellogg products because the cereal company dropped Phelps following publication of the photos. The organizations claim that Phelps was hired to promote a product — not to be a role model. Before they begin their boycott, I would encourage these groups to find out what Phelps’ contract specified.


If his contract spelled out that Phelps would endorse products and serve as a role model, and in his endorsement capacity he would not engage in any behavior — especially illegal behavior — that might tarnish a role-model image, then Phelps deserves to lose the deal. But, if the contract did not mention anything about the purpose of his endorsements or a prohibition against illegal behavior, then shame on the lawyers who drew it up.


A contract is an example of a situation in which words definitely count. Just ask former beauty-pageant contestants who have lost their crowns because they broke the spelled-out rules.

So, I am curious about Michael Phelps’ contract: Did it contain a morality clause? Or did Kellogg merely assume he would be a good, law-abiding young man? Was he hired merely to sell corn flakes? Or was he hired to be a role model who would influence little children to eat their corn flakes and grow up to be like him?


Even if the contract did not spell out consequences for illegal or scandalous behavior, common sense should have kept Phelps from putting his future at risk. Some things are best done in complete privacy. Then the words (or the lack of them) wouldn’t have mattered.


Until next time,

Linda Segall

Segall Enterprises: Writing and Editing Solutions

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