Commentary

Chicago doesn't need Games

Let this "Dream Team" of sports personalities make the bid for the Windy City

Originally Published: September 29, 2009
By Jon Greenberg | ESPNChicago.com

Forget Oprah. Tell the first lady to stay home and keep the president with her.

Oprah and Michelle Obama were bad enough, and sure to charm the IOC into submission. But now we've got President Obama going to Copenhagen to make the pitch for Chicago's Olympic bid? That's like bringing in Mariano Rivera in the ninth ... of the Little League World Series.

[+] EnlargePresident Obama
Jeff Haynes/AFP/Getty ImagesTell President Obama to skip his trip to Copenhagen, and let Jon Greenberg's "Dream Team" make Chicago's bid.

This is very bad news for the anti-Olympics folks in Chicago, the ones who don't want their city to be encumbered by orange cones for years leading up to the 2016 Games, so we can have two weeks' worth of judo, kayaking and steeplechase.

Yes, my name is Jon Greenberg and I do not support the Olympics in Chicago. Call me shortsighted, but it's the truth.

Yes, the Olympics are nice in theory, or on TV beamed in from somewhere far, far away, but for the City That Works, are they necessary?

I love Chicago. It's been my home since the beginning of the Dusty Baker era, and I'll probably never leave. (For all you youngsters out there, that's what happens when you marry a Chicago girl. Unless I buy the Pittsburgh Steelers, I'm not moving home anytime soon.) Everyone I know loves Chicago. Aside from the New Yorkers, everyone I know says Chicago's their favorite city.

All I'm saying is, this isn't Atlanta. Chicago doesn't need to be legitimized as an international destination. New York City should be thrilled it didn't get the 2012 Games. As far as I know, New Yorkers aren't exactly reeling from the letdown.

According to all the official propaganda, the Games will modernize pockets of the city for another 100 years, especially the forlorn South Side. I'm all for that, but it sounds a little too good to be true. I know our elected officials have never lied to us before, but still, I don't quite trust this deal will benefit the city as much as we're told. Scores of independent economists, social scientists and Olympic experts doubt the rosy projections of the USOC and Chicago's bid committee.

So what exactly is the reason we need the Olympics? I think we can figure out a way to rejuvenate the South and West sides in the next eight years without never-ending, overbudgeted construction that's only going to benefit already wealthy, well-connected Chicagoans at the cost of normal citizens' sanity and tax dollars.

So I'm proposing that instead of sending our best and brightest to seal the deal, let's send some of our real athletic characters to Denmark to show the IOC who really represents the Chicago sporting scene.

Copenhagen, Friday:

IOC member Dick Pound: So Mr. Cutler, you are one of the finest athletes in Chicago. Tell the IOC why Chicago should get the Olympics.

[+] EnlargeJay Cutler
Scott Boehm/Getty ImagesIt might be interesting to see how the IOC would interpret Jay Cutler's facial expressions.

Cutler (rolls eyes, smirks, then snickers, then smirks again, continues eye-rolling, nods head, looks at the floor, smirks and shrugs shoulders): I don't know man, why do you think Chicago should get the Olympics? It sounds like you don't know.

Chicago bid leader Patrick Ryan: Thanks, Jay, for your, um, help. We also have Milton Bradley, who is contractually still a member of the Chicago Cubs. You get WGN here, right?

Milton Bradley: Can we talk about baseball? Why are we talking about the Olympics? Let's hear some baseball questions.

Pound: Well, baseball isn't in the Olympics, Mr. Bradley.

Bradley: Why not? What do you have against baseball? Why do you hate baseball so much? You know I'm already dealing with so much hatred in my life. Why's everyone dogging Milton? You know I'm ready to start hitting.

IOC member Arne Ljungqvist: Well, Mr. Bradley, what can you tell us about Chicago?

Bradley: It's negative. Everyone's negative. The reporters, the fans, the waiters, the teachers, the parents, the street performers, the bus drivers, the pigeons ...

Ljungqvist: I'm curious. How are the pigeons negative?

Bradley: They're always aiming at MY car. Why is it always MY car? I heard Mark DeRosa's car was always clean.

Ljungqvist: Well, maybe he parked inside.

Bradley: Whatever, you're just trying to rile me up. This interview is over. Call my mom if you need anything else.

Ryan (interrupting): Excuse me, your highness, but we have another Chicago sports legend who would like to speak. Maybe he can, um, elucidate Chicago's appeal a bit better.

Kenny Williams (sipping small cup of coffee): You need to talk to me about something?

IOC member Lamine Diack: Mr. Williams, my name is Lamine Diack, and I'm ex officio of the IAAF for the IOC. Can I ask you how a disposable stadium in one of your parks would be the best choice to hold the opening and closing ceremonies? Usually an Olympic host builds a new grand stadium to host the events and track and field.

Williams: You know what? That doesn't sound like a Kenny Williams problem.

Diack: Well, it is a USOC problem. How would you like it if your team played in a disposable stadium?

Williams: Stay out of White Sox business!

Ryan: OK, thanks, Kenny. That'll be enough.

Williams: Sounds to me like you're underachievers. Not Chicago tough. I've found out a lot about you today.

Ryan: Moving on, we've got Lou Piniella, the manager of the Chicago Cubs. Lou is bilingual and a big fan of the, uh, equestrian sports.

Princess Anne: Well, I was an Olympic equestrian.

Piniella: You ever race at Pimlico?

Anne: No.

Piniella: How about Gulfstream? Hollywood Park? Those are some nice tracks.

Anne: Mr. Piniella, why should Chicago host the Olympics? Your public transportation system is subpar, traffic snarls up when a raindrop falls, nothing is ever done on time or near the budgeted amount. Your city can't even make a parking meter deal without completely botching it. And your own baseball team hasn't won a World Series in over 100 years!

Piniella: Look, I just came here to get away from my miserable team. I mean, look, how often can I watch Aaron Miles play baseball? It's not fun, I'll tell you that much. It's not fun. Then I get on the plane and Milton's sitting there with his feet up on my chair. I can't get away from this guy! But, what can you do, right?

So, what were we talking about again? Oh yeah, the Olympics. I remember watching the 1984 Games with Mr. Steinbrenner. Good athletes there. And fast. OK, we good? Anything else, you just ask the pitching coach. Hey, there's Jim. Talk to Jim. Bye.

[+] EnlargeLou Piniella
Jonathan Daniel/Getty ImagesCubs manager Lou Piniella might enjoy leaving his team for a few days to join Chicago's team in Copenhagen.

Jim Hendry: I will pay you $30 million over the next three years to have the Olympics somewhere else. Sound good?

Ryan: Moving on, here's Joakim Noah, the son of tennis great Yannick Noah, and the center for the Chicago Bulls. He was a well-accomplished amateur athlete at Florida.

Joakim Noah: Yeah baby! We're going to do it all night! You don't know what we're talking about, but we gonna do it all night long!

IOC president Jacques Rogge: What's that smell?

Ryan: That's just ... incense. Here's a Chicago legend who took time out of his busy schedule of lingerie football and mustache grooming -- Da Coach himself, Mike Ditka.

Mike Ditka: So, I was thinking about these opening ceremonies. Do you want me to come in by myself or the rest of the '85 Bears to just follow behind me? What I'm getting at is, how will the Olympics celebrate the '85 Bears?

Ryan: Well, I guess it's now or never. Members of the IOC, I present to you, Michael Jordan.

Michael Jordan (chomping on cigar): Aside from the closest people in my life, Charles Oakley and Phil Knight, people don't know this, but the Olympics mean a whole lot to me as a basketball player and as the Greatest Man on Earth.

Like in 1992, when that guy from Angola tried to get my autograph during a timeout? Well, I didn't forget that. I dunked on him so hard, he thought a stampede of deer ran him over. I brought him here to remind him how much better I am than him.

Is Reebok still a sponsor of the Games? If so, that's gotta change. My proposal is everyone gets a Jumpman. If you want to hear more about my ideas, I'll be at Pebble Beach running the Charlotte Bobcats. Always remember dreams are just illusions and reality is just dreams realized, or something like that. Just do it!

[+] EnlargeMichael Jordan
Jim Rogash/Getty ImagesFormer Olympic gold medalist Michael Jordan could recall past glory during his speech for the bid.

Ryan: OK, that didn't work, either. Who's left? Ozzie swears too much, Air Pip never took off, Reinsdorf wants to move the Olympics closer to his home in Phoenix and Patrick Kane just had an incident with a jitney cab driver over 20 euros.

Ah well, maybe it just wasn't meant to be. I guess Chicago will just have to make do with its six major professional sports teams, its beautiful lakefront and multitude of parks and free leisure options. We'll have to find another way to improve long-ignored parts of the city while still lining the pockets of our wealthiest citizens. I just wish I had someone to close this deal before we give up.

Greenberg: Mr. Ryan, I've got just the guy.

Ronnie Woo Woo: Olympics, woo! Disposable stadium, woo! Bike racing in Madison, woo! Bridgeport concrete impresarios get rich, woo! Four years of planning to watch 30-second swimming races, woo!

Diack: I don't care how many people get kidnapped per day in Rio de Janeiro, anything's better than listening to that racket!

Bradley: Hey, does Rio need a right fielder?

Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com.

Jon Greenberg

Columnist, ESPNChicago.com
Jon Greenberg is a columnist for ESPNChicago.com. He has lived and worked in Chicago since 2003, and is a graduate of Ohio University and the University of Chicago.

SPONSORED HEADLINES

ALSO SEE