Michael Phelps and His Father
Since the stories about the historical nature of Michael Phelps’ eight gold medals had been beaten to death by the mainstream media before the end of the Beijing Olympics, a new Phelps-centric story was needed to capitalize on his fame. Unfortunately, most of the swimming events were completed, leaving the media no more opportunities to reference Phelps save for some far-fetched comparisons to Usain Bolt, the Jamaican sprinter with multiple medals and world records.
Enter Fred Phelps, estranged father of Michael Phelps.
According to reports, Fred and Debbie (Michael’s mother) divorced in 1992, and since then the relationship between father and son has been, at best, difficult. Prior to the Athens Olympics in 2004, Michael was asked about his father and replied that the two hadn’t spoken since he was in high school, and that Fred didn’t call when he broke the world record in 2001. They reconciled shortly thereafter, and Fred came to the 2004 Games, but the relationship soured again.
Now, Fred is fielding calls from media outlets, and from what I can tell, he has no interest in capitalizing on his newfound celebrity. He is often referred to as “tight lipped”, and the few quotes he offers are deferential to his son.
“This is not about me, it’s about him.“
I cannot imagine what has happened between these two men to prevent them from having even the most minor of relationships. I have no idea what the circumstances are, so I have no interest in laying blame at either man’s feet. However, what I do know is that as a father myself, I love my kids, and no matter what may happen in the future, I will continue to love them and do what’s right for them. (As an aside: no, my wife and I are not having any marital problems, but I cannot help but put myself in another father’s shoes when I read about their relationships with their kids.) I just don’t understand how they allowed it to get to this point, and why it cannot be repaired.
Source: Phelps, dad not on speaking terms via Fox Sports.