I love New York City, and I love the Olympics, but we need the
Games like we need a hole in the ground. The organizing
committee, a group called NYC2012, is talking about a new stadium
on the West Side (near where Donald Trump is flinging up another
tower), an Olympic Village along the East River (where it's hard
to find even a studio apartment) and a triathlon course in
Central Park (which is supposed to be an oasis from the hubbub).
Only 60% of the facilities that the Games demand are already
built. This means years of construction on streets where a few
pothole repairs snag traffic for miles.
And that means despair, anger and New Yorkers fuming in the
fumes. During a 45-minute standstill on the West Side Highway two
weeks ago, I watched a cab driver lean out his window and yell at
a fellow cabbie, "Eff you, you effin' effin' eff eff!" In
response the second driver winged a bagel at him.
The organizers know that in New York it takes an hour to travel
10 blocks when the dog show's in town. That's why they boast that
all Olympic events will be accessible by public transport.
Olympians won't have to rely on the roadways, NYC2012ers say;
they can use ferries and trains. Huh? Try picturing Rulon Gardner
squeezed in among the straphangers on a rush hour F train.
Sure, the Olympics are a celebration of cultural diversity, but
so is every day in New York City. And many in the world's most
famous melting pot are already sports crazed. This area supports
nine major pro teams. We host tennis's U.S. Open, the New York
Marathon, the Millrose Games. The Olympics in New York? It's like
scheduling a sand dump for the Sahara.
So, a decade of logistical nightmares in exchange for 17 days of
even more sports in 2012?
Not in a New York minute. --K.K.
At the risk of being hunted down by BASOC, the Bay Area Sports
Organizing Committee, and crushed under an avalanche of its press
releases, I hereby declare the formation of ABHOC, the Anywhere
But Here Organizing Committee. It's not that San Francisco's
unworthy of the 2012 Olympics; it's that as a Bay Area resident,
I don't want it subjected to the Games' excesses. San Francisco
is too classy to host the opening ceremonies, which inevitably
feature a cheesy tribute to the Olympic city. Imagine hundreds of
kids prancing around Stanford Stadium, dressed as sourdough
baguettes. And please, spare us the mascots. Would it boost our
civic pride to have something like Shakes, a fuzzy little
earthquake survivor, high-fiving people all over town?
According to a BASOC poll, 88% of Bay Area residents would like
the Games in their backyard. That's probably because they plan to
rent their backyard to the Turkish wrestling delegation and spend
the fortnight in Hawaii. Either that or they don't realize that
the added traffic on the already snarled Bay Area freeways will
make the famously crooked Lombard Street look like the autobahn.
Hosting the Games would undoubtedly mean more to many other
cities. Bay Area fans tend to focus on professional sports, as
most of the college programs in the area can attest, so unless
Barry Bonds is handing the baton to Jerry Rice in the 4x100
relay, track and field isn't likely to keep their interest very
Hold the Games somewhere, anywhere else. The local populace might
be disappointed to lose the chance to show off to the world, but
these are San Franciscans we're talking about--it's nothing that a
good Cabernet won't cure. --Phil Taylor
Bill Scheft is on vacation.
COLOR PHOTO: COURTESY OF BASOC (POSTER) PICK ME! The finalist cities should be careful what they wish for.
COLOR PHOTO: KATHY WILLENS/AP (I LOVE NY) [See caption above]