I love the Olympics, but not in my back yard

Megan Sweas| comments | Print this pagePrint | Email this pageShare
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I spend almost every weekend from April through October in Washington Park, the South Side location of Chicago's proposed "disposable" Olympic stadium.

My teammates and I practice Ultimate on a large open space that holds 14 softball fields, three football/soccer fields, and four cricket fields. I bet that thousands use the park every weekend.

Should Chicago win the bid 2016 Olympics today, all those playing fields will be gone--the center of a community destroyed.

All the news (at least in Chicago) is about our city's royalty--Oprah and the Obamas--being in Copenhagen for the final sell. Meanwhile, 45 percent of Chicagoans are against the bid.

Olympic supporters argue that an Olympic host city will benefit from investment, international attention, and the creation of jobs. The reality, however, seems to be that low-income areas are often selected for Olympic sites, displacing vulnerable populations, and budgets soar out of control, leaving tax payers to foot the bill. Add political corruption to the mix and many Chicagoans fear that the games could be disastrous for the city. For more details, see this piece in the Chicago Reader, linked to from NoGamesChicago.com.

I'm against the Olympics coming to Chicago because I am concerned that the Chicago 2016 committee made their plans with no little care or input for the communities it will affect the most. 

The trouble is that I really like the Olympics.

Also, if I think the Olympics are bad for the poor, do I really want to subject Rio's poor to hosting the event, as another protest site, Chicagoans For Rio, proposes? 

Perhaps the problem may be less with the eager host cities' bids and more with our growing expectations for the Olympics. Maybe the International Olympic Committee needs to put more emphasis on sustainability, both in terms of environment and economics, than flashiness. Can we scale down the price and impact of the games?

Sports are great, as I've often said here, but as soccer-loving JPII might remind us, they have point to some higher values.

Finally, an extra link for you Chicago sports fans, a funny ESPNChicago column on why we shouldn't host the Olympics.