Jesse Owens was without a doubt the star of the 1936 Berlin Olympics. A black man winning four gold medals in Arayan Germany was interpreted as a symbol of America’s strength in diversity. And yet, when Owens returned to America, he struggled to earn a consistent income, unthinkable if he were a star today.
One way Owens earned a living – he was an owner of a Negro baseball league team, The Portland Rosebuds. In order to bring fans in, I suppose, he footraced against horses between games at double headers.
Michael Phelps never had to do that to make a living.
And yet, the single most decorated Olympian ever, including a record 23 gold medals, Phelps is engaging an even more absurd race….against a shark.
In promotion of Discovery Channel’s annual “Shark Week”, Phelps will swim a race against a great white shark on July 23, 2017.
What can I say? This is the height of absurdity.
I can see in my head what a race with a horse looks like. I cannot imagine what a race between a man and shark is. How long would the race be? Since sharks are always in motion, does this particular great white shark getting a running start, as it were? Are man and shark racing together, in the same ocean lane? If yes, I imagine that would motivate Phelps in a uniquely visceral way.
But the simple reason why this whole exercise is clearly a gimmick, according to this article, great white sharks reach speeds of 25-35 mph, while a swimmer of Phelps’ caliber tops out at 6.
So silly. But, I’ll watch.