Thursday, October 1, 2009

The Olympics in my hometown

I remember as a young man, growing up in Chicago, wondering how cool it would be for the Summer Olympics to be hosted in my hometown. I had envisioned the opening ceremony in Soldier Field, before the spaceship known as the Bears home stadium landed there, the Olympic Theme blaring from the Colonnades.

I just thought how electric the atmosphere. People from all over the world coming to my hometown, not that they don't already, but this time the whole world will be watching. ( I know, in 1968, the marchers said "the whole world is watching", but I mean in a positive sense. ) Somebody could actually say I won "x" number of gold medals or set a new world record at the Chicago Olympiad. That would be awesome.

Well, as I write this the President of the United States and the First Lady, former Chicago residents, are in Copenhagen, Denmark trying to make that dream a reality. Mayor Richard M. Daley could pull off something his father, "Da Boss", could not do, all it takes is a majority vote from the International Olympic Committee on October 3rd.

Now Chicago's main competitor is Rio De Janeiro, Brazil. I can only imagine what the opening ceremony would be like if the Games end up there. If you think Carnival is a site to behold, just let the folks in Rio host the Olympics in 2016! So just that thought shows the competition is stiff. But the fact that Chicago has made it this far is incredible.

Now there are naysayers out there that are bitchin' about traffic tie ups and higher taxes. They just don't get it. The world will have its focus on Chicago for two weeks. The city will become truly a world class destination from that moment forward. If you don't believe me, look at how the 1996 Olympics transformed Atlanta into a mecca city. International flights leave from Hartsfield-Jackson Airport now. Centennial Park is the hub of downtown. Population has tremendously increased and so has economic development. I mean Salt Lake City, Utah hosted a Winter Olympiad people and they have benefited tremendously as well.

Chicago has had a history of hosting the world before with the Columbian Exposition and the World's Fair, but that was before jet planes, 24-hour cable and the Internet. Now the city I call home could be properly put in its rightful place as one of the greatest cities in the world. For the record, Chicago has hosted an international sporting event before, where the US Women's Soccer team proved they were the best on the planet during the Women's World Cup, but this is the sporting event of all sporting events.

Just imagine the Cubs playing the White Sox in the World Series, the Blackhawks playing for the Stanley Cup, the Bears playing for the Super Bowl and the Bulls playing in the NBA Championship during the same two week period and multiplying that 3 times over. That is how big this is.

If you want to gripe about the inconvenience, then plan a vacation for that time. Just don't watch the television for two weeks as your city will dominate the news and somehow, some way, you will really wish you had stayed. As for me, I will try to find a way to be there, even if I can't afford the tickets to the actual events. ( I hear that golf will be played at that Olympiad, so count me in the gallery at Olympia Fields Golf Course, wink, wink. ) Just being in that atmosphere and I am only a $99 ticket away on Southwest from going? At worse, a one day train ride or a 10-hour drive on the Interstate? Sure beats trying to get to Rio, I would have to start saving for that trip tomorrow. Who am I kidding, if its in Rio, I will be watching the NBC family of networks like I have lately.

It would be great for America to host a Summer Olympiad again, if nothing else to give our young men and women competing a home field advantage once again. China fed off its home crowd in Beijing last year. It would also be fifteen years after 9/11, thus showing the world how resilient and proud we are as a nation.

Now there are two things that concern me. First, Nostradamus said the world will end in 2012. Boy I sure hope he got that one wrong. Second, since Kanye West is a Chi-town native, there is the possibility he may interrupt the opening ceremony and say that Barcelona was the best ceremony ever. Barring that, I think Chicago will be a great city to showcase a world-wide event and I can think of no better city to do it than my hometown.

Good luck in Copenhagen!