Saturday, October 3, 2009
So by now everyone knows that the 2016 Olympics are going to be in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. That's right folks, Chicago, nor any other city in America will be hosting the 2016 Olympic games. We, chicagoans have been inundated with Olympic fever all year. The signs were posted on the streets, on buses, billboards and it was the constant talk around town. From day one, however, there were mixed feelings.
2009 has been quite the tumultuous year for the city of Chicago. We started the year celebrating the presidency and inauguration of Barack Obama. We went into the Spring dealing with the city streets being in the worst condition ever due to a harsh winter. Potholes and manholes were found everywhere once the snow and salt cleared. Then we were met with headlines regarding the loss of city and county jobs due to the economy. If that wasn't bad enough, the whole Rod Blagojevich senate seat-selling scandal was the talk nationally. Before we could catch our breath from political scandal the city sales tax went up, summer came and so did a rise in violence among teens. Several kids were murdered this summer which sparked national interest and an almost weekly investigation on CNN. Yet, through it all, every time you saw the mayor, he was talking about how great the city is and the Olympics.
This soured a lot of people here whose rising concerns for our safety and city costs marred support for the Olympics. Then in a zippy and unexpected twist. Sitting governor Pat Quinn decided to tax candy and liquor! The cost of living in Chicago has risen dramatically! A trip to Walgreens will lend receipts with at least three different sales tax codes, with some items being taxed at 12.25%! Then over the past three weeks, the Olympic push reached catastrophic levels, with talks of the First Lady, Oprah, Governor Quinn, Scottie Pippen and David Robinson all supporting the Chicago bid. Despite the tragedy at Fenger last week, the banners were hung, the big screen at Daley plaza reared its face and gates went up to prepare for an alleged Olympic celebration.
People lined up in Daley plaza at seven o'clock to get free "Chicago 2016" tee shirts. The media covered the area, sports stars showed up and waited anxiously for the announcement from the International Olympic Committee. Ironically, Chicago was voted out in the first round. There was news of tears and tangible disappointment. I can't say that I share in that feeling. The U.S. has bigger fish to fry than the Olympic games. Maybe we will be ready to host again, when we aren't practically at the bottom in education. Maybe we'll be ready when we aren't embroiled in a war. Maybe we'll be ready when our kids are safe, and families become important again in this county. Maybe we'll be ready when we finally get a public option in our health care industry. But right now, we aren't which is why we didn't get the bid. This was a reminder that the United States has a lot of growing to do, even on the International stage. I would love to see money and excitement being generated like that for education, poverty, jobs and children. Then, maybe we'll be worthy of hosting the Olympic games.