This will be a short diary.
So, Chicago didn't get the Games for 2016. It sucks. We didn't even make it out of the first round of ballot voting. That sucks even more. Bringing the Olympics to my hometown would have been an absolute dream for me. The dream was denied.
But I want to send a different message than one of mere disappointment, and one far different than the one the wingnuts are ignorantly spreading. I want to congratulate Rio for becoming the first city in South America to host the Olympics.
I have watched the Olympics with huge interest every time it has been hosted since I was four. I went down to Atlanta in 1996 to watch two days' worth of track and field. I watched Randy Barnes win the gold in the shotput and saw Donovan Bailey set the then-world record in the 100 meters (with a time of 9.84, which Usain Bolt today would probably consider a warm-up jog). In fact, one night in Atlanta my father asked me and my brother if we wanted to go down to the Olympic Village late at night after the day's events, but we told him we were too wiped out and wanted to go to sleep. Later that night, the Olympic Park was bombed.
I was awoken this morning by three text messages from my brother, who broke the news to me. He was deflated. As he put it to me, this was like building your hopes up to ask that beautiful girl you had a crush on to the prom, and then seeing her turn you down. So, to my fellow Chicagoans who were hoping for the Games, we just got turned down to the Athletic Prom of a Lifetime.
Since I'm out of a job, I decided to take some time off of life and go back home to visit my family. I drove all the way from Philly to Chicago yesterday and very early this morning. I drove through terrible rain and lots of construction in Ohio and Indiana, and nearly got hit by two trucks on the way home. I didn't arrive until about 4:30 am Central time. You know why I drove late through the night in those terrible conditions, rather than do the smart thing and stop at a hotel somewhere? Because I wanted to wake up in my own bed to the news that Chicago would get the Games. I was hopeful that I would come downstairs, turn on the TV, and see the entire city whooping it up. But it didn't happen. Instead, I got the pleasure of seeing the Drudges, Becks, and Limbaughs of the world cheer against my city for no other reason than to bash President Obama. I expect that they'll be rooting against any and all American athletes for the same reason in 2012 and 2016.
I acknowledge that there were legitimate reasons to oppose bringing the Olympics to Chicago. There would have been a huge bill to pay, and it would have been a scary prospect if lower- and middle-class taxpayers in and around the city were forced to pay for it. Homeowners might have been forced to leave to make way for construction. Maybe the cost of the Games would have caused enough economic stress for the city that the state would have been forced to make budget cuts to schools and arts programs. I don't know for certain if that would have happened, but these issues were certainly valid points of discussion.
All that said, I'm still disappointed. When the city of your childhood is given a chance to represent the Olympics, and then rejected, it hurts. However, I'll get by. There's plenty of things to love about Chicago (far more than any other city in the world, if'n you ask my biased opinion).
I'm glad that Rio was awarded the Games. I think it's great that South America will finally get the chance to host the biggest international festival in the world. I wish them well and I hope their Olympics are successful. Yes, I'm disappointed that Chicago didn't get it. But I will still watch the 2016 Games with as much interest as I did the 1988 Games in Seoul.
So, cheers to Rio. In the meantime, I look forward to London in 2012. Maybe I'll even pop on over the pond to watch it with my own eyes, and catch some good bangers and mash at Wembley Stadium.