I shouldn’t really be worried about Michael Phelps: the brilliance of his 8 golds at the Olympics means he’ll be worth tens of millions by year end. But can a swimmer, without the canvas of a national league sport, thrive over time?
By all accounts Phelps is one of the good guys. Like Tiger Woods, there’s something fundamentally okay about him: you can smell he’s drug free, and as a swimmer I know just how technically skilled you have to be to be competitive in the water.
Phelps has the potential to become an inspiring icon, like Woods. But I’m concerned that after the talk shows the brand equity will start to die, and something richly deserved just won’t happen. There are plenty of terrific athletes who really struggle in later life. I just hope Phelps gets the right media strategy and the right financial advice, so that even if he’s a one-season wonder he’ll be fixed for the future.