One thing that bothers me most about how the Michael “Pass the Bong Please,” Phelps story is being played:

If this were a black athlete being scrutinized rather than the water-logged Golden Boy, the critics would have much sharper teeth.

This is being passed off as an immature mistake by a 23-year old, and for the most part that’s true.

You could begin counting today the number of people at college parties smoking dope each week and probably not be finished by Thanksgiving.

I could care less if Phelps merely partakes in a puff here or there or is more a ganga freak than Jeff Spicoli.

But to watch local and national newscasts (CNN gave a new meaning to soft when discussing the story Sunday) give him a near pain-free ride for what is now the second such transgression (he was arrested on a DUI charge in 2004) is a joke.

Know this: If the name Michael Phelps was instead Terrell Owens or others, the court of public opinion would be skewed in a much different direction by those reporting the story.

As it is, outstanding ESPN columnist Pat Forde says Phelps’ miscue can be used as a teaching tool for kids. This is one of the better takes you will find on the matter.