4 Reasons For and Against Michael Phelps Being the 2016 Olympic Flag Bearer

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Photo Courtesy: Sue Borst


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By Annie Grevers and Brent Rutemiller

The nomination to carry one’s nation’s flag in the Olympic Opening Ceremonies is a coveted honor. Team captains from all sports vote on one athlete to carry Old Glory and lead the mob of immensely talented American athletes into the Olympic arena.

Many votes that will not be counted have been cast by the public with many believing that the athlete to lead Team USA into sporting battle should be the greatest Olympian of all-time– Michael Phelps. The last Olympic swimmer to serve as flag bearer was Gary Hall Sr. at the 1976 Montreal Olympic Games. Perhaps, 40 years later, another swimmer will lead the nation across dry land. But why would this honor not have been bestowed upon Phelps in 2012? In what were thought, at the time, to be his last Games?

Gary Hall, Sr. no date with flag - E. Germany closing ceremony

Photo Courtesy: Swimming World

Why MP will not be carrying the USA flag in the Opening Ceremonies:

1. Have you ever watched the Opening Ceremonies?! They’re long.

I had the great honor of attending the 2012 London Opening Ceremonies as a spectator. I had the luxury of being seated for the six-hour affair. Athletes are not given that luxury. Standing may seem a small price to pay to march with your country’s finest athletes in a procession that is broadcast live to a billion people. But to the tapering swimmer, standing could be seriously detrimental to performances. Many have said since Phelps is not swimming the 400 IM on day one, the day after the Opening Ceremonies, he might be willing to carry the flag. Ask any swimmer how long before a meet coaches begin advising athletes to stay off their feet…usually it’s two weeks preceding a big event. Six hours of standing and walking could still affect MP’s performances two days later. No one wants to risk that. -Annie Grevers

2. Michael might not want this honor.

I don’t know if Phelps has “carry the American flag in the Opening Ceremonies” on his bucket list. If he has a swimming bucket list, it’s been fulfilled. He’s in it for the pleasure of the sport now. Perhaps becoming a dad and an engaged man would make him value an experience like bearing the flag more. I’m not sure. I do know he’s going to be putting his weight into representing Team USA well in the pool, not necessarily in the Opening Ceremonies. -Annie Grevers

Why MP will agree (if offered) to carry the USA flag in the Opening Ceremonies:

1. This is a no-brainer!

The honor is too great for Phelps to turn down. He is the greatest Olympic athlete of all-time. The moment will be frozen in time just like when Janet Evans passed the torch to Muhammad Ali to light the Olympic flame in 1996. Phelps knows the significance of this honor and will agree simply because he knows that this will be his last Olympics and he knows his place in history. – Brent Rutemiller

2. Tired Legs? I get it. But Phelps bleeds red, white and blue.

I’m sure they can whisk him in at the last moment to carry the Flag and they can whisk him out. It would not surprise me however, if he stays to watch it all. Besides, the prelims and finals for swimming will be starting later than any prior Olympics the day after the Opening Ceremonies. All cards have Phelps penciled in to swim the 400 free relay. My guess is that Michael sleeps in for prelims and then swims that relay in finals. Finals start at 9:00 p.m. local time. There will be time for him to recover. – Brent Rutemiller


  1. Neil Stapley

    Against 1: He never turns up for the opening ceremony.

    For 1: ………

    • Rich Davis

      Neither would you if you had the 400IM the next morning.

    • Neil Stapley

      Rich Davis exactly so why even contemplate it.

  2. Ken Henry

    Tell mom this is your last OLYMPIC’S unless Bloomer, makes it!

  3. Donald P. Spellman

    He should lead the USA Team in for the closing ceremony. He has earned that and it will not have a negative effect on the swimming too.

    • Alicia Jenicek

      He hasn’t stayed all the extra days and now he has a newborn & mom he want’s to be with.

    • Donald P. Spellman

      Alicia Jenicek : I get that. Just saying maybe he could alter his plans.

    • Alicia Jenicek

      He discussed all this on his live feed while training in San Antonio. Swimming for gold for USA is first then Boomer who was there too. He understands the honor but will decide when/if it is offered to him

  4. Niles Keeran

    Gary Hall Sr. back in 1976 Montreal Olympics was the only swimmer to be the US flag bearer.

  5. avatar

    I hope he’s not seriously considering carrying the flag. I’m with Annie on this one.

  6. Chuck Kroll

    Brent you already know how I feel…I’m with you…if offered…Go for it Michael! Just do it! Be the Leader in Life that you are becoming! Do it for Mom, Bob, Nicole, Boomer and all of us who have watched and supported you throughout your Olympic Journey!