A 23-year-old spends the better part of a decade submerged in water, wins an unprecedented eight gold medals at a single Olympics, and inks endorsement deals potentially worth $100 million. After all this, the young man decides to blow off steam and gets photographed with an Olympian bong attached to his lips.
Most sponsors decide to stick with their guy, but one company -- a wholesome American brand -- quickly throws him overboard.
Did Kellogg Company do the right thing in firing Michael Phelps this week? I don't think so.
Let's start with something Kellogg Company should relate to: the Golden Rule. Kellogg's management has undoubtedly heard, "And as ye would that men should do to you, do ye also to them likewise" (Luke 6:31). If Kellogg's managers were caught smoking dope in their early 20s, I suspect they would have expected a second chance. I'm sure some of 'em voted for Barack Obama, who ingested his share of weed as a young guy. When asked if he inhaled the president famously said, "That was the point."
Kellogg Company managers could have called Phelps in to Battle Creek headquarters, asked what happened, and insisted he go into an appropriate counseling program. With their young superstar, they could have launched a major anti-drug program. The press would have eaten it up.
But know what? It's not too late. Kellogg Company could rehire Phelps, explain the conditions of his reinstatement, and turn an embarrassing photo into something extremely positive.
What do you think?