The London Olympics will be underway in less than 100 hours. For about the last 3 months, there have been plenty of heartwarming and heart wrenching stories about Olympic athletes and Olympic hopefuls as they strive to make it to these competitions. Trust me; the proliferation of such stories is nowhere near being in the past tense; NBC and all of its affiliate networks have dozens of these nominal human interest stories “in the can” for the two-and-a-half weeks of the telecasts. Therefore, this morning, I want to provide a commentary that is more than a little bit off that well-beaten track.
The Olympic Games are a gigantic fraud. They have nothing whatsoever to do with the glory of competition; they are first, foremost and virtually exclusively about money. Back in the late 1800s when folks were trying to revive the Olympic Games, one of the leading advocates for doing so was Baron Pierre de Coubertin. As he went about gathering support for his cause, here is what he had to say about his vision for the Olympic Games:
“Olympism seeks to create a way of life based on the joy found in effort, the educational value of a good example, and respect for universal fundamental ethical principles.”
If anyone believes that this description comes close to the core values and motivations of the International Olympic Committee in 2012, then I have some beachfront property in Nebraska for sale… On a spectrum where Pierre de Coubertin’s vision stands at one end and abject corruption in the name of lining one’s own pockets stands at the other end, the International Olympic Committee is ever so close to the latter end. I once commented to a former colleague that the acronym, IOC could just as easily stand for:
Incompetence or Corruption.
We know how members of various IOC boards and committees have used their positions to solicit and then to accept bribes thanks to the Salt Lake City Winter Games. The IOC would have us believe all of that is in the rear view mirror and that in 2012 everything is purer than the driven snow. I am not buying that so long as the IOC continues the practice of ‘auctioning off” the venue for future Olympic sites to the highest bidders.
I have suggested in the past that the Olympic Games have served whatever purpose they may have had 75-100 years ago and should be put on long-term hiatus. That just ain’t gonna happen so now let me suggest that we remove one of the recurring sources of corruption from the games. Let us go back to the way the ancient Greeks organized the games – - and I do not mean that we should go back to having all of the athletes compete in the nude.
Let the IOC pick a place – - any damned place on the Earth that suits their fancy and the one that can line their pockets with sub rosa payments one last time – - and then hold the Olympic Games there each and every four years. The Greeks did just that; amazingly the city that hosted all of the Olympic Games was none other than Olympia, Greece. Slow down here hoss, let me catch my breath. Is that why they call them the Olympic Games…?
There are loads of world-class competitions that happen on a regular basis in the same venue every year. The Kentucky Derby is always in Louisville, KY; the venues for the other Triple Crown races need not be Googled from year to year; the English FA Cup Finals do not wander around the extremes of the former British Commonwealth; if you want to go to Wimbledon, you need not wonder about hotel availability in Stockholm; guess where the Melbourne Cup happens every year; the Rose Bowl Game does not move around such that one might ever find it in Fairbanks, Alaska on New Year’s Day. But the Olympics move around offering the members of the Selection Committee ample opportunities to demand and to receive bribes. No sugar coating here, what they ask for and what they get are bribes.
The London Organizing Committee – - working in a city with more than decent infrastructure and with more than a few sporting venues already in existence – - says it will spend $15B on these Games. A study conducted for the London folks who were bidding for the Games a decade ago said that the games would pull in a net economic benefit of $1.6B. Adjust that for inflation and ignore the economic meltdown of 2008 and assume that these Games will bring in $2.4B – - 50% more than the wildly optimistic estimates that the people funding the original study would have demanded. Can anyone explain to me how that makes even marginal fiscal sense?
Here is the deal from the standpoint of the people of the world who have to pay the taxes to create the funds that go to bribe the Selection Committee members and then to build a ton of venues that will never be used again:
One venue worldwide hosts the games every time the IOC chooses to put on the Games. Absent the graft and bribery, I would not be surprised to see a movement to have the games held once a decade…
The IOC would be responsible to run the Games efficiently and effectively in a venue they have under their control all the time. Pomposity, entitlement, arrogance and detachment would need to be exorcised from the IOC and competent program management skills would need to replace all those other less-than-wonderful traits.
Switching gears, as NFL teams report to training camps, I read that Jets’ cornerback Antonio Cromartie will be the father of record for 12 children by sometime in November of this year. Cromartie is 28 years old. Four of those kids will be with his wife; the other eight are the spawn of seven other women. The difference in age for this brood is 7 years. Think about that; if they were all boys – - they are not – - Cromartie could be the father of an entire offensive unit or defensive unit on a football team 20 years from now. Oh, and it is not as if he has exited his fecund years…
Do you think he has figured out yet just what causes all of this to keep happening…?
Finally, here is an observation from Dwight Perry in the Seattle Times:
“Hear about that box of pristine, 100-year-old baseball cards discovered in an Ohio attic that could be worth millions of dollars?
“Appraisers can’t decide which rare find is more valuable — the mint-condition Honus Wagner, or the Jamie Moyer rookie card.”
But don’t get me wrong, I love sports………