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Columnist
Do we really want Summer Games?
By Barry Rozner | Daily Herald Columnist
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Published: 10/2/2009 12:04 AM | Updated: 10/2/2009 8:03 AM

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I love the Olympics.

There. I said it.

I know it's not chic in this age of hyper-cynicism, but I still enjoy the games.

Certainly not as much as in the days of the U.S. amateurs against the Eastern Bloc professionals, but I still find the emotion captivating and the competitive sport fascinating.

Yet, I'm torn as we await Friday morning's decision.

With so much money at stake for the politicians, with so much riding on this decision for the bank accounts of the rich and famous traveling to Copenhagen, and big dollars in it for everyone they know, and everyone they know, it's difficult to imagine this not going Chicago's way.

And as much as the 2016 games would be great to have here from an athletic standpoint, there is no denying the disaster it will be from an aesthetic standpoint.

Then, there's that little matter of the financial and logistical nightmare.

Assume for at least a year or two before the Olympics, to the time they've concluded, that you won't be able to get into or out of the city, or move around anywhere even close.

That's bad, but nothing like the economic tsunami it promises.

This is a product of Chicago machine politics, where the mayor can tell the president what to do, twisting arms and sending the first family to lobby on behalf of the city.

Rest assured that all the politicians involved, on every level of government, will make sure that they and their friends and all their advisers make out like bandits.

Hey, this is Illinois, so we assume both sides of the aisle will get plenty for themselves.

And don't forget the TV networks, which believe the Summer Games, if placed in a photogenic Chicago and in the all-important Central Time Zone, will provide a windfall.

Everyone will fill their pockets, except all the rest of us - the taxpayers - who will most assuredly foot a huge bill.

In the billions and billions.

You will pay in Chicago and in Cook County and in Illinois and federally.

You will pay and pay and pay some more.

Any argument or promise to the contrary is absolute nonsense that flies in the face of Olympic history, which suggests that with precious few exceptions, hosting the Olympics is a financial disaster that takes decades to overcome.

If they say the budget is $4 billion, what they really mean is $12 billion, and guess who pays for that?

Nothing like making that commitment in the midst of a global economic calamity.

Would I like to see the Olympics here?

I would. I just don't want to pay for them, and if that's the choice, then I'd say, "No, thanks.''

I really like the Olympics. I also like going to White Castle at 3:30 in the morning. There's nothing better at that moment, but you pay a heavy price the next day - morning remorse and all.

Now, I'll admit the thought of Tiger Woods at Medinah in Sunday red, white and blue, or a gymnastics or hoops final in Chicago with gold determined by one toe here or a bucket there, that part of it is impossible not to embrace.

But the rest of it promises - absolutely promises - to be an unmitigated catastrophe for residents of Illinois in just about every way.

The decision is upon us, and with the celebrity delegation shaking hands, kissing babies and campaigning Windy City style, it's difficult to see Chicago finishing as the second city in this contest.

If that makes you uncomfortable, scared and even downright angry, here's the good news: There's nothing you can do about it.

No one asked for your opinion before they went ahead and did it, and our beloved politicians couldn't care less what you think about it anyway.

What else is new, right?

So if it happens, there's nothing to do now but accept it and embrace it.

And by all means, don't forget your checkbook.

brozner@dailyherald.com