When Michael Phelps finishes his swimming career after the 400-meter medley on Saturday it could be the beginning of his life as an announcer. Reports have surfaced that the most decorated Olympian ever could join the broadcasting booth in the 2016 games, according to TMZ. There are also rumors that the major networks are preparing to enter a bidding war for Phelps' services a commentator.
TMZ quoted an NBC Sports executive as saying "The man is smoking hot right now...would definitely hire Michael." NBC holds the Olympic rights until the 2020 games but an ABC source reportedly said "If he would, we would gladly scoop him up to work for us."
The sports media watchdog site Awful Announcing picked up on the potential of Phelps moving into broadcasting and pointed out that Phelps' sheer value on a marketability standpoint makes him worth pursuing for the network. They described it by saying "his all-time Olympic medal count record would be ratings gold if he comes anywhere near a pool ever again."
Awful announcing also doubted that any major network (CBS, ESPN, etc.) would bid against NBC for a shot at Phelps. "Let's not kid anyone here," the site said. "Phelps doesn't offer much to a network outside, you know, swimming."
If Phelps wins the 100-fly and Team USA wins the medley relay on Saturday Phelps will retire with 22 medals, 18 of which will be gold. He'd also leave the London Games with six medals, the third time he won at least that number during the international tournament. Mark Spitz is the closest Olympic swimmer to Phelps with 9 gold out of 11 medals, reports the Los Angeles Times.
If Phelps does end up continuing his sports career as a broadcaster he'd hardly be the first athlete to do so, chief among them might be Brandi Chastain. Chastain scored the World Cup-winning goal for the United States' women's soccer team before moving into her role as the color commentator during the Olympics. She's been in the news during these games for U.S. goalkeeper Hope Solo's comments about Chastain's criticism of defender Rachel Buehler.
Most of the sports media came to Chastain's defense, partly because her comments were relatively harmless and because Solo questioned how much Chastain knew about the game, something she proved during her career. Phelps, although sometimes painted as an inarticulate jock, could bring a similar credibility if he decides to offer commentary on swimming events.