Now that the Olympic flame has been extinguished and the Royal Family has gone back to doing whatever it is the Royal Family does, Chicagoans such as myself can only ask, “What if?”
What if Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel had strutted across the stage
at the closing ceremonies and taken the Olympic flag, symbolizing our city as the next host? We wanted it so badly, you know. We thought we had everything — the venues, the ideal late summer weather, the under-the-table payments — and yet we lost it faster than you can say, “Usain Bolt.” We will never forget watching CNN on Oct. 2, 2009, and hearing the anchor incredulously exclaim, “Chicago? Is out?” For an added kick in the gut, the announcement can be seen forever on YouTube
From that moment on, we couldn’t have cared less. Most Chicagoans still don’t know that Rio de Janeiro was awarded the 2016 games; we only know they went to a city “somewhere south of Soldier Field.” But now that we’ve witnessed the London games from our armchairs, we have begun re-thumbing our noses at the Olympic committee and mentally reminding them what they missed by passing us by. For example:
THE OPENING CEREMONY. British film director Danny Boyle did, to use English terms, an “absolutely splendid” job recreating his country’s history via the four-hour spectacle that preceded the torch lighting. Chicago could have done the same. But because our bid was ignored, a worldwide television audience will never see how Chicagoans have existed over the years. The live shootout depicting what it was like when Al Capone and other mobsters ran the town would have been awesome. Ditto for the massive amounts of snow we planned to dump on spectators to show what a typical winter is like. Of course the ceremony would have been halted for 45 minutes while politicians argued about who should clean up the white mess but, hey, that’s reality in Chicago.
THE BADMINTON VENUE. We learned during the London games that teams were trying to lose. OK, maybe they weren’t but they sure looked like they were trying. For that reason, Wrigley Field would have been the perfect badminton arena. We’re used to seeing a team losing there — even when they are trying to win.
TABLE TENNIS. I’ve been to at least a half-dozen awesome Chicago bars that have ping-pong tables. That’s the same as table tennis, right? Any of these could have hosted the world’s top athletes. And we would have added a twist by letting all losers compete in the consolation “beer pong” tournament.
BMX. For my money, this was the most entertaining event in the entire Olympics, consisting of eight bicyclists who started a race, only to have two, three and, in one race I witnessed, seven crash into a tangled heap midway through the course. This occurs daily on all of Chicago’s major expressways; adding a few cyclists to the mix would have been incredibly easy and cheap.
A BETTER BOB COSTAS. I think NBC’s main man was in London too long. Every time I saw him, he was sitting rigidly behind his desk, engaging athletes in stiff, boring banter. In other words, he was acting like a typical Englishman. Holding the Olympics in Chicago would have given our city a chance to rub off on Costas. By game’s end, he would have been eating a chili dog and using his sleeve as a napkin while interviewing Missy Franklin. Instead he’s headed to Rio, where the only way to improve his demeanor will be to leap from his chair and dance the flamenco.
NO RYAN SEACREST. Chicago residents are tolerant, but we can reach a breaking point. That point would occur the moment we saw Seacrest doing anything other than being escorted to O’Hare by a convoy of Chicago cops.
THE WHITE SOX THEME SONG. When a Sox victory is at hand, Chicagoans have been known to serenade losers at U.S. Cellular Field with the chorus to “Na Na Hey Hey Kiss Him Goodbye.” We would have been only too happy to sing this refrain whenever we sensed defeat, even when a weightlifter is about to lose a battle with a 500-pound barbell.
OPRAH. And finally, even though she’s sort of retired and doesn’t spend much time in our city, we still could have trotted out Oprah whenever we pleased. Her presence would liven up even the most boring events. Are you listening, rhythmic gymnastics organizers?
Unfortunately, none of this will come to pass. So, good luck to the city that’s a few thousand miles southwest of The Billy Goat Tavern. We’ll watch, but we will do so begrudgingly. And don’t expect boffo television ratings from us. We may have better things to do.
Beer pong, for instance.
Originally posted by Tribune Media Services
COPYRIGHT © 2012 GREG SCHWEM
DISTRIBUTED BY TRIBUNE MEDIA SERVICES, INC.