I back the bid — somewhat reluctantly.
I know this is not a popular position. Nearly everyone in Chicago seems to enthusiastically and blindly support the effort to bring the 2016 Olympic games to our city. When I’ve expressed anything less than whole-hearted support for the Olympic bid, I’ve been accused of being a everything from a killjoy to a hater of organized sport.
I’m not totally against the idea. I’d love to bring my three kids to see Olympic competitions right here in Chicago. I recognize that the Olympics have the potential to benefit the city in a number of ways. But I also have some serious reservations about Chicago hosting the 2016 games.
Most of my concerns are financial. Can the city afford this given that it is basically broke? How much is this really going to end up costing taxpayers? Why is it that the city has the resources to host an event of this magnitude but it can’t meet the basic health, educational, and social needs of many of its citizens? Are future generations of Chicagoans going to get stuck footing the bill for this? Am I the only person terrified by the words “unconditional financial guarantee?”
Since this is a blog about families and parenting, I am going to leave those issues to the pundits and policy makers. As a parent, my biggest concern is whether a Chicago Olympic games would be good for our children — and I mean all of them.
I hope that the Chicago 2016 Planning Committee will work to ensure that all Chicago children have a meaningful
opportunity to see the games — even if their parents can’t afford to
buy tickets to the events. I am talking about more than a group of
school kids standing behind Mayor Daley at a press conference. I am
envisioning something better than giving low-income kids the unsold
tickets to the less popular events. All Chicago kids should be
able to say, “I was there for 2016 Olympic games in my hometown. I saw it.”
Chicago is awarded the games on October 2, I’d love to see a partnership
with Chicago Public Schools, social service agencies, or other
community outreach organizations that will
provide children from low-income families with a chance to be a part of the Olympic experience.
be watching on Friday to hear the big announcement from Copenhagen. If
the games are awarded to Chicago, I will be cheering too (its not like
I am pulling for Rio or anything).
As the planning takes place over the next few years, I hope that the folks in charge remember that
all Chicago residents — even the small ones who won’t generate revenue
— deserve to be a part of the Olympic experience.