August 2, 2012 by David Gillaspie
It’s fair to say the American medal magnet collected a sack full by conquering water the way England sacked the world when it ruled the seven seas. Everyone goes home with a special prize.
If Elizabeth I was brave enough to knight an old pirate like Sir Walter Raleigh, Elizabeth II ought to do the same for our newest buccaneer. Who wouldn’t want to see that happen? Since he broke the record for most Olympic medals, and did it in English water, he deserves it.
We can help by following e a few important steps.
Their stuff is so precious that countries of origin want it back. Like an Olympic medalist on the wrong side of a drug test, Marion Jones, England is supposed to return the loot? Greece wants their Elgin Marbles. Egypt wants their mummy. The resoluteness of the British Empire says it won’t happen, thank you very much. Besides, it’s a huge tourist draw.
One step to help Phelps into his starting stance near Queen Elizabeth and a few taps from Excalibur would be displaying all of his Olympic artifacts in their museum. Let the people see them in person. Share the experience.
Imagine an inspired generation of Londoners swimming laps on the River Thames (delicately pronounced Tims to my surprise.)
Remember when Tiger Woods led inner-city youth to the golf course? Same thing.
A critic might see medals in the British Museum as an act of self-aggrandizement not worthy of scholarly consideration. I see an opportunity to bridge the gap between true sports accomplishment and the nation that released Eddie The Eagle on the world.
One shows what happens when you fly through the water; the other is what happens when you fly off a ski jump before you learn to ski. There’s payback for making us watch that.
In order of importance, what is more valuable than Olympic gold every four years? Think of the lessons learned. What lessons? Ask the silver medalists who lost a race by 1/10,000th of a second because they hiccuped at the wrong time. They have to explain it the rest of their lives when people ask, “What happened? How did you lose?”
Eventually they tire of repeating the same story the way Kurt Cobain dreaded singing Smells Like Teen Spirit the rest of his life. Instead of the shotgun solution, the silver medalists call themselves simply Olympic medalists and let it go, as if second place in the Olympics needs any explanation.
The downside of showing his Olympian cache at the British Museum is assuring their timely return. Mike, read the small print on the forms explaining the benefits of a renewable 100 year loan. If you have any trouble with the details, feel free to consult the original Rosetta Stone in its exhibit case. If the oracle says no to the show for your bounty, don’t worry, there is a better venue closer to the Queen’s heart.
You can argue that Michael Phelps is swimming royalty, and since racing past Soviet gymnast Larisa Latynina, he’s become true Olympic Royalty. He reigns as the undisputed King of the Podium. The only place for this king to rest is crown is the Tower of London.
If it’s good enough for the tiaras and scepters of Arthur, Guinevere and the rest of those ordained by God, it’s good enough for an Olympic golden boy.
The Tower is the best choice for a one man championship display, but what makes it even better is the timing. The monarchs broke out the Crown Jewels for the Silver Jubilee at the same time a new exhibit in the Jewel House ‘re-presents’ them for the 21st Century.
Curators have handled the royal regalia often enough to easily pack them into storage and make room for the Michael Phelps Collection: Twenty medals and counting. To speed the path to knighthood, they could even box up the crown Elizabeth II wears for knighting occasions and send it to the ceremony with Phelps.
Here’s some cultural advice for the special day, Mike. If someone asks why you’re delivering such an important object as the Queen’s crown, just say it’s within the Special Relationship shared by America and Britain. Feel free to explain how America likes to help our English brothers and sisters any way we can, like WWI and WWII. They’ll love hearing that again. And again.
While you’re still in town, Mike, check the Queen’s social schedule for the first available kneel down. Tell her it’s a favor between the ruling elite, the King of the Podium and the Queen of England. Remember, be flexible if she asks you to wear a Speedo during your induction ceremony. Avoid the rubber suit banned in 2010 and go with tradition. Where others wear shining armor or uniforms carrying more bling than a German Kaiser, your Speedo will carry the day.
Wear it whether she asks or not. You are King Mike, and it’s good to be the King. Go ahead and pull rank if you must.
(also posted on oregonsportsnews.com)