28 September, 2009

Help me Decide...

I like to think that I have an open mind on most things. I know that in reality, it probably isn’t as open as I would like to think that it is.. so when something comes up, I try to take to take a step back and see if I agree with it or not on the merits of the situation.

One such event in the news recently caused just such a step back..

It is about the President going to Denmark to campaign for the 2016 Olympics.

My initial reaction is that it is not a good use of the President’s time and our nation’s resources. But I wanted to reevaluate my stand on that to see if it was just the easy way out of disagreeing with 99% of what he has said and done since he came into the National spotlight.

He is the first US President to personally campaign for the Olympics, so there is no precedent for it. That isn’t to say that there shouldn’t be, just that there hasn’t been.

He has shown in the past that he is a big sports fan. He has spoken out against the BCS, and his Final Four brackets were all over the news. I have no problem with him being a sports fan, George W. Bush is a former owner of the Texas Rangers, and Presidents have been throwing out first pitches for Orioles games for years.

What causes me to pause is whether or not the office of the President should be used to influence an independent sporting body. I’ve written in the past about Obama speaking out against the BCS, and he has every right to have thoughts about it as a sports fan, but he has no right as the Leader of the Free World to meddle in the inner workings of the NCAA and the BCS.

However, the Olympics are a different thing all together. The Olympic Games represent much more than the games themselves. If you have any questions about that, take a look at any of the games during the Cold War. From the US boycott of the 1980 Moscow games to the subsequent Soviet boycott of the 84 games in Los Angeles. The Olympics have always been about more than the games themselves.

They are a chance for the host country to showcase itself. Look at the pageantry of the 2008 opening ceremonies in Beijing.

I think that if the people of the Chicago area want to welcome the world, than why not send the President, especially a president that was formerly a Senator from Illinois, especially when the First Lady calls Chicago home.

I haven’t been a fan of the Olympics for quite a while. I have nothing against them; it’s just hard to follow a ‘sport’ that 95% of the world only sees every 4 years. I do get into a few of them but I don’t like all of the special interest stories that NBC insists on showing. If you are going to cover the games, than do that.. cover the games. But my thoughts on the Olympics are not relevant to this column.

Hosting the Olympics will bring the world to us. It will create infrastructure jobs in and around Chicago (I was in Salt Lake City before the 2000 games, much of the city was under construction as they prepared for the world to be their guests.) the hospitality industry will thrive and millions in foreign currency will be spent. As long as we don’t over spend like they did in Montreal in 1976 (they ran a $1Billion deficit), which, let’s be honest, will probably happen (meaning we will overspend).