Michael Phelps' Apology for Second DUI Arrest Has the Same Old Words & Needs New Actions
In an absolutely bizarre turn of events, there have been two celebrities who have been arrested for driving under the influence this week alone. The first was Amanda Bynes whose DUI arrest happened on Sunday. The second, of course, was Michael Phelps, an Olympic gold medalist. In the second case, Phelps was arrested on his second DUI on Tuesday morning with a blood alcohol level that was twice the legal limit. Worse, he was charged for "DUI, excessive speeding and crossing double lane lines", which means he was an active danger to himself and others on the road. Later that same day, Phelps issued his statement about his DUI on Twitter, but it's hard to take him seriously.
The first time Phelps was arrested for DUI, he was 19 years old. According to The Wrap, he said at the hearing that he "[recognized] the seriousness of this mistake. I've learned from this mistake and will continue learning from this mistake for the rest of my life." Ten years later, here we are with Phelps at the middle of another DUI arrest and his new statement echoes his old statement far too closely for me to be able to take it as a serious apology.
The only favorable part of his apology is his acknowledgement that his words don't mean much in the face of his actions. Two DUI arrests in a decade might not seem like a big deal, but the way I am looking at it is that Phelps still hasn't learned his lesson even ten years later. It's truly disappointing to see this kind of thing happening to him when we thought that the 2004 incident was a one-time thing. And his acceptance of the full blame in this situation means that he needs to start proving that his words aren't just words.
In 2004, he said that he had learned from this mistake, but now is his chance to live up to his promise to continue learning from the mistake. It's been twice now that he has said that he realizes how serious a mistake this is to make and the second time he makes that claim is the time that I start expecting him to actually start trying to never do anything like this again. He could have caused serious injury to himself and to others, so if he is truly sorry and truly learning then why was he driving under the influence again?
On the bright side, the way that Phelps chose to close his statement certainly seems like an indication that he plans to back these echoing words up with real action in one way or another. I have no idea what he plans to do, short of accepting whatever punishment the courts hand out and then actively working to avoid DUI from now on, but whatever changes he plans to make can only be for the better. Once is a mistake. Twice could be the tipping point between mistake and habit. I don't want to see someone like Phelps fall into that pattern when he has such a promising future ahead of him.