Tomorrow’s announcement of where the 2016 Summer Olympic Games will be held likely will generate more excitement than the Games themselves. Perhaps all this suspense is as artificial as the pomp and solemnity that surrounds the Olympics themselves. After all, Chicago is a candidate in this election — and in the Windy City, elections are not exactly suspenseful. The way it works in Chicago is: First you pick the winner, then you hold the election. President Obama learned his politics in Chicago, and he certainly learned them well enough that he wouldn’t have flown all the way to Denmark to lose an election. The fix is in.
In the end, who really cares where the games are played? The reality is, they are played on television. But if they are nominally to be played in an American city, Chicago seems like a poor choice. When it comes to sports, Chicago is all about tough-guy professionalism. Da’ Bears. The Cubs and the Sox. The Bulls and the Blackhawks. The kind of youthful and amateur sports that the Olympics supposedly once stood for don’t really go over in the Windy City. The University of Chicago used to be a football powerhouse, but the names Stagg and “Monsters of the Midway” are the stuff of legend, like Al Capone and Mike Royko. Northwestern still plays big-time football, but it is the doormat of the Big Ten, which has become the softest of the major college-football conferences.
Sports in Chicago aren’t about buff young kids playing beach volleyball. Sports in Chicago are about mud and blood in Soldier Field, with Butkus or Urlacher taking some guy’s head off and feeding it to him.
Finally, what difference does it make where the Games are played in 2016? What with global warming, it will be far too hot for foot races. Still, if the Games are played in Chicago, you can be sure that someone will be making a buck. That fix is, without question, already in.
– Geoffrey Norman is editor of VermontTiger.com.