Pittsburgh is and my home, but Chicago is my hometown. It’s the place of my birth and the residence of most of my family members. It’s the place of many of my sports loyalties ( the only time I cheer against the Steelers is when they are playing the Bears ). It is also one of the most exciting, energizing and amazing cities on this planet.
Knowing all this, I guess you should not be shocked that I was disappointed to learn the place of my birth lost out on the 2016 Olympics games. The “Second City” didn’t make it past the first round, losing to the eventual champion Rio De Janiero in the South American nation of Brazil.
As I drove around and listened to the coverage of the announcement on CNN & Fox News through XM radio, I heard much of the shock that Chicago was the first city eliminated. The real surprise seemed to be that President Obama flew to Copenhagen to make the last pitch for his hometown, unheard of for the President to go so far to make such a plea. He got the word that Chicago had lost on his flight back to the states and he also got an earful from critics who questioned why the leader of the free world should stoop so low as to become a pitchman for the Olympic Games. One Republican strategist said the President, by making the trip, had lowered the standards of the office.
The President & First Lady in Copenhagen make their Olympic bid for Chicago … and come up short.
The other bit of fallout from this failed bit was the sense of shock Chicagoans, and I sense,. Americans had that we had not won the bid … or at least come in second. The argument was the Olympics had not been in the U.S. since Atlanta in 1996 and why would you choose Rio or Madrid or Tokyo over one of the most prestigious cities in the U.S.
Let’s begin with the contention that somehow the United States “deserves” these games in 2016. Yes, we are a powerful nation and we know how to host an Olympic games, but there is a wide world out there. The games have historically gone to either Europe or North America, with the rare exception of China for the last games. Its time to make this international event international. South America has never had the games and who wouldn’t want to spend a couple of weeks in Rio. It’s time to take this event to the rest of the planet and Rio would give not just Brazil, but all of South America a chance to shine and show itself to the world.
As for the President’s decision to go to Copenhagen to make a final push, so what? He made no secret that this was his pet project. He and his wife had been strong supporters of the effort. Why would he not finish what he started? So it took him out of the mix for the day. So he burned some gas. If he had been ultimately successful, there would be no complaints.
This just strikes me, the criticism of the President for this trip, as another political battle. Does everything the President does have to be seen through the looking glass of politics. Sadly so. I have seen since his inauguration an ever-widening divide in this country when it comes to the President. Either you are for him or against him and it seems the middle ground is narrower than the median on a street. Look, I don’t agree with everything the President does just as I did not agree with everything President Bush does but for the conversation concerning this man to become so vile sand hateful is beyond me. If the power of his office can make an Olympic dream come true, I say go.
Back to the games and maybe not getting the Olympics was a blessing for Chicago. With all the issues facing that city, spending billions to put on these games doesn’t strike me as the best use of resources. In this economy, those dollars could be used for building housing for residents, not athletes. It could be used for new roads rather than new stadiums. It could be invested in our young students rather than our young athletes.