Bring Back the Olympics
To: Count Jacques Rogge
Dear Count Rogge:
Congratulations on a remarkably successful Summer Olympics in London. This is your last Olympics because you retire in 2013, but at the end of this letter I have an urgent suggestion that would cap your legacy.
The Olympic Games are thought to have started in 776 BC on the plains of Olympia in Greece. They ran almost 1,000 years until 393 AD when they were banned, because at the time all things pagan were suspect. The modern Olympics are generally dated to the formation of the International Olympic Committee, and the first Olympic Games held under its auspices were in Athens in 1896.
The games in London were the first Summer games in which women participated in all sports, having been added to boxing. Some would argue that including women in the sport of boxing is not progress, but then again, we elect women to Congress and that too is a contact sport. The 2012 London Olympics also eliminated gender-specific sports by dropping baseball (male only) and softball (female only), and the Olympic committee brought back golf for the 2016 Summer games. In fact, female athletes won 58 medals for the United States in London, accounting for 56 percent of American medals; America led all nations in total medals, at 104. It’s apparently easier for women to dominate Olympic athletics in the United States than to be elected president.
The London Olympics triumphed in many ways. The athletic successes of the Jamaican runners, the first individual gold medal won by Allyson Felix, the great 800 meter world-record race, and the unparalleled victories in team sports of the U.S. men’s and women’s basketball teams (with a lot of help from the Lynx) were all high points. But more to the point, it was announced that this Olympics were the most watched television event in history.
The Olympics were also a celebration of London, a city in which more Olympics have been held than any other (three). And the English celebration included many of that island nation’s contributions to world culture,with a bit of English humor—the Queen parachuting with James Bond! Sir Paul was at the opening ceremony. The Who, a version of Pink Floyd, Annie Lennox, the Spice Girls, and the incomparable Freddie Mercury (in tribute) and Queen were all featured in the closing ceremonies. It was a massive party (even without Sir Elton and Sir Mick), and they reminded this American of why we still call our language English.
The entire London Olympics are generally considered to be the most expensive; CNN estimated the cost at more than $14 billion. This year’s games also boasted the most tickets sold and two of the most successful and memorable ceremonies (both opening and closing) in the history of the games. In essence, in the middle of one of the largest urban centers in Europe, the English carried it off without a hitch. Much to celebrate.
And there was much to celebrate of that which we did not have to endure; the constant barrage of political advertising, the constant barrage of political yammering, and the constant barrage of negative news about our society. There seem to be basically two ways in which we can discuss our society: booing how bad the other guys are or cheering how good the Olympians are. I prefer the latter.
And so I urge you to bring back the Olympics. Waiting until the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, in 2014 seems too long a time, and it will certainly seem too long as we crawl through this last month of our election process. We badly need the Olympics on a yearly basis. But failing that, I have another suggestion.
Let’s start planning to bring the Winter Olympics to Minnesota in 2022. With the 2008 Republican National Convention, we showed that we can hold events requiring security successfully. We have a multitude of facilities—at the rate we build stadia around here, we’ll certainly have another one by 2022. Our indoor facilities for hockey and skating events are unparalleled. We have a lot of extremely good female athletes! And finally, while we can’t match the English in contributions to pop culture, we do have Bob Dylan! He will no doubt still be performing in 2022 and no doubt his voice will sound just as good as it sounds today, or for that matter, 20 years ago.
So there you have it. If you can’t bring back the Olympics next year, at least bring the Winter Olympics to Minnesota for 2022. It would all give us something worthwhile to work on for the next 10 years.
Vance K. Opperman
Vance Opperman (firstname.lastname@example.org) is owner and CEO of MSP Communications, which publishes Twin Cities Business.