I’ve tried for many years to resist the siren call to nationalistic hysteria when it comes to the Olympics, preferring instead to focus on the achievements of the athletes as opposed to whichever flag hey might be toting, but my parochial leanings do bubble up sometimes when the International Olympic Committee gets into the act.
With that backdrop, I found it more than a little disheartening a couple of weeks ago when Chicago’s bid for the 2016 Games received such a decidedly unenthusiastic response from that august body – go ahead and read a bit of sarcasm into that – and later from people in this country who roundly cheered at the news of the early demise of the Chicago bid.
I can promise you that the people (even political commentators, who are technically people, too) who so gleefully applauded the IOC’s officious dismissal of Chicago probably don’t know too much about the inner workings of that group. If you think the denizens inside the Beltway have the inside track on hypocrisy, deceit, pomposity and back biting, meet their European mentors who have refined all of that to an art form. You couldn’t even fantasize about making Hypocrisy an actual Olympic event, since the very best practitioners wouldn’t be able to compete because of a conflict of interest.
But what really frosted my grommet about all of this was the simple idea of Americans cheering at something so starkly disappointing to many of their fellow citizens. I fully understand that America is not the center of the universe and that from a global view it’s presumably exciting that the amateur athletics spectacle will be going to South America for the first time. That’s fine.
But I can’t ever recall another IOC vote in my lifetime where people cheered about an American city coming up short in a bid vote. Even if you are opposed the idea of a Windy City Olympics on more defensible grounds – like the possibility of staggering cost overruns being saddled on the local populace – that didn’t seem to be what we were witnessing in this case.
Gee, I’d hate to see the Olympics become politicized (Hint: more sarcasm).