Friday, October 2, 2009

Call Me Scrooge

I am a fan of the Olympics. I think they're pretty cool, exposing sports I might not see on a regular basis and bringing together the best in the world for the sports I follow.

When the Olympics were in Los Angeles in 1984, I was going into frouth grade and remember watching every event I could. In 1996 the Olympics were in Atlanta, and I was in college. In 2002, the Olympics were in Salt Lake, and for the first time it dawned on me that I could go to the Olympics and see this amazing stuff in person. Of course that dawned on me in the middle of the Games, which didn't do me much good.

The Olympics are headed to Vancouver this year, and I have friends who live in Seattle who spend a lot of time in Whistler, near where many events will take place. I determined that I was going to make it to these Olympics. How cool!

Then I started looking into the tickets as they went on sale. And I changed my mind. The prices for non-core sports for early action were astronomical. There was no way I could justify going to more than one event or maybe two. And then there's the cost of staying there and getting there, and my dream fizzled.

Chicago has been bidding for the 2016 Olympics, and everyone around here is excited. "I back the bid" t-shirts and signs are everywhere. Whole schools have been having assemblies and creating ways to show how much they want the Olympics to be here.

Me?

Not so much. Call me a grinch, but when I look at the Games the past few times, there has been all sorts of spending on stadia and housing for athletes and others that has either been beyond a realistic budget, short-changing other dire needs in the area, or both. And Chicago has a lot of needs. They've left the cities with massive deficits and then-empty attractions. The traffic has been a nightmare, and in Chicago it already is. And the tickets are unaffordable.

I've quietly kept an eye on what's been going on, and when I saw things like our major expressway (three lanes in most places, and already filled with traffic except at 2am) having one lane dedicated to Olympic athlete traffic, I cringed. When I saw the estimates of a $5 billion cost, I looked around at so many people I know who have no jobs or resources, and I see that money being funneled into short-sighted projects that won't benefit them -- or at best will provide them with a short term job, amidst much waste.

Were the Games more like their roots where the facilities took advantage primarily of what was already in existence, allowed the ordinary people a chance to see world class athletics, and showcased the host city for what it provided rather than dressing it up using dollars it doesn't have, I'd be thrilled if the Olympics were coming to Chicago.

As it is, I smiled quietly as I headed out of the locker room at the gym this morning, saw the tv on my way, and noticed that Chicago had been eliminated from contention.

My hope is that the city, the state, and the nation will now focus on so many of our larger problems and let Rio handle the circus that now accompanies the Olympics. I'll happily watch them at home, and then I'll head out to drive in my usual traffic to my usual destinations, unencumbered by any hoopla caused by the Olympics in my backyard.

12 comments:

Pop and Ice October 2, 2009 at 5:11 PM  

While I believe snagging Chicago for the 2016 Olympics would have been good for the U.S., I agree that we have bigger fish to fry. Let's get our economy in order, make sure anyone who needs health care can get it, put some regs in so that Wall Street doesn't melt down again and THEN we can talk about the luxuries.

septembermom October 2, 2009 at 8:45 PM  

It would have been fun to have the Olympics in Chicago. We'll all enjoy it on TV anyway. I'm not a fan of more traffic and tourist craziness in my backyard either.

WeaselMomma October 3, 2009 at 6:11 AM  

I have to say I agree with you. I love the Olympics and this would probably have been my only chance to go. However, I also know that seven years of insane construction and taxes being raised to pay for it (that won't go down after the fact) and the insanity that would surround the event would be out of control. I was both disappointed (slightly) and relieved, albeit surprised, when I heard the news.

WeaselMomma October 3, 2009 at 6:12 AM  

I have to say I agree with you. I love the Olympics and this would probably have been my only chance to go. However, I also know that seven years of insane construction and taxes being raised to pay for it (that won't go down after the fact) and the insanity that would surround the event would be out of control. I was both disappointed (slightly) and relieved, albeit surprised, when I heard the news.

Karen October 3, 2009 at 7:42 AM  

I tend to agree. Call me what you will, but I see crimes and protests crop up in Olympic cities more and more often as well. I'd have to question if it was worth it for that reason alone.

MaBunny October 3, 2009 at 9:00 AM  

I tend to agree with you on that Michelle. They should focus more on the things that need to be done. Like down here, I don't think the Cowboys needed a new stadium right in the middle of an already crowded part of town... Its an eyesore to me...

Pat October 3, 2009 at 1:16 PM  

We love watching the Olympics at home and you can see so many more events than if you were there in person. I'm happy that you're happy.

Unknown Mami October 3, 2009 at 1:29 PM  

That's interesting Scrooge because I felt the same way when San Francisco was bidding. I mean we are already bursting at the seams where was everyone going to fit?

Megryansmom October 3, 2009 at 6:02 PM  

I wholeheartedly agree with you, now move over, I'll sit beside you in the Grinch corner, and ehem, bring some of that flatbread.

Michelle October 3, 2009 at 8:45 PM  

Carol Lynn - I don't know that we'll never have Wall Street melt down again. There's always something "better" out there that will prove not to be. The key is in recognizing early enough that there is something nonsensical going on and figuring out how to mitigate it.

Kelly - Fun for who? :) Actually, I take that back. If I had enough money, I could make it fun for me, too!

WeaselMomma - Nope, taxes never go down after the fact. Remember how the tolls were just temporary to pay for the construction? Uh huh....

Karen - It isn't just Olympics but the G-20 and everything else. I do fear that this would have been a magnet for a lot of ugly protests.

MaBunny - I can't remember who paid for the new stadium, but yeah... that's definitely over done. It's another instance of our priorities being totally out of whack.

Pat - Yep, definitely more events. Although with Tivo that doesn't really matter so much anymore!

Unknown Mami - Yep, same here. Although I know people who were already counting on the income they'd get from renting out their houses. And here I was worried I was going to get hugely flamed. Phew!

Megyransmom - Hey, we have one piece left from dinner tonight. You're welcome to it. Unless I give in and go stick some Nutella on it and call that dessert. You're even further out than I am, so interesting to see your POV.

Melisa with one S October 10, 2009 at 10:37 PM  

I completely agree (surprise!). Although it would have been nice in some ways because the Olympics are so cool, we Chicago-area residents would have paid heavily, in $$ and inconvenience.

Michelle April 9, 2010 at 11:29 PM  

Melisa - Totally not surprised :) Can you imagine, given what the economy has done now, what it would be like with construction and increased taxes?

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