Norway's Petter Northug at the Sochi Games // photo Getty Images

Norway's Petter Northug at the Sochi Games // photo Getty Images

Swimming

The Phelps suspension: why the rush to judgment?

Cross-country ski champion Petter Northug was sentenced last Thursday in court in Norway to 50 days behind bars after being convicted of drunk driving. Which brings us to Michael Phelps, the 24/7 media spin cycle we live in and the rush to judgment that led to the significant suspension USA Swimming levied against Phelps for his recent DUI arrest in Baltimore.

What was to be gained by USA Swimming rushing to this judgment? More — what was lost by waiting?

Former Baltimore Ravens defensive back Ed Reed, left, with Michael Phelps at M&T Bank Stadium last month // photo Getty Images

Former Baltimore Ravens defensive back Ed Reed, left, with Michael Phelps at M&T Bank Stadium last month // photo Getty Images

Swimming

What’s next for Michael Phelps

Michael Phelps is not a bad guy. Let’s start there. In fact, he’s a really, really good guy. He cares — deeply — about his family, his coaches, the people who have been with him for years, his hometown, his country and his sport. He is, genuinely, great with kids. He is, truly, a normal guy who found a genius for swimming and competing.

By driving drunk, according to the allegations levied against him by the authorities in Maryland, Michael made a really bad mistake. Perhaps the hardest piece: Michael has said many, many times, often to audiences of kids, that it’s OK to make a mistake — the trick is not to make the same mistake twice. Now, in the wake of his DUI problem 10 years ago, he has made the very same mistake, all over again.

Michael Phelps after finishing second in the men's 100 fly at the U.S. nationals // photo Getty Images

Michael Phelps after finishing second in the men's 100 fly at the U.S. nationals // photo Getty Images

Swimming

Michael Phelps as work in progress

Michael Phelps had it Friday morning, turning in a sensational prelim swim. He didn’t quite have it Friday night when it counted, losing by one-hundredth of a second in the 100 butterfly to Tom Shields at the U.S. national championships in Irvine, California.

The upshot: Phelps is back on the national team. For him, for the U.S. team, for swimming in general, that’s all good. Now, though, the real work begins. As Bob Bowman, his longtime coach, said Friday night, “I think he needs to go home and put in some more practices.”

Michael Phelps after finishing seventh in the men's 100 free at the U.S. nationals // photo Getty Images

Michael Phelps after finishing seventh in the men's 100 free at the U.S. nationals // photo Getty Images

Swimming

For one night, no Phelps magic

Before Michael Phelps had won even the first of his 22 Olympic medals he was, in 2003, the United States men’s national champion in the 100-meters freestyle.

The circle turns. It’s back to the future. Pick your metaphor as the 2014 U.S. nationals got underway in earnest Wednesday in Irvine, California, with Phelps stepping to the blocks for the finals of the 100 free.

Left to right: Christian Taylor, Sanya Richards-Ross, Wallace Spearmon, Morgan Uceny, Leo Manzano at Friday's news conference

Left to right: Christian Taylor, Sanya Richards-Ross, Wallace Spearmon, Morgan Uceny, Leo Manzano at Friday's news conference

Track and field

Relay this, out-of-the-box thinkers

NASSAU, Bahamas — The first race has not even been run. Action gets underway Saturday at jam-packed Thomas A. Robinson Stadium.

But, already, barring a security breach or unforeseen disaster, this inaugural edition of the IAAF World Relays can already be proclaimed a fantastic success.