Mayor Daley, Pat Ryan and the entire Olympic 2016 Bid team did a superb job in bidding for the games. Chicago was well represented. The presentation was well prepared and well thought out. All should be proud.
It was wonderful that Chicago megastars like Oprah Winfrey, President Barack Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama appeared before the committee. It was sentimental and heart tugging to hear Michelle talk about her father nurturing her athletic abilities and the president talked about the city of Chicago where he chose to root himself. Theirs was the stuff that dreams are made of.
In retrospect, however, we probably missed some presentations that might have made the case.
The champ, Muhammad Ali, was a natural to present. Even though speaking is difficult for him now, a media presentation might have been stellar and won hearts, as we saw a real champ who started boxing in the Olympic games. Washington Park was where he did his road work. His presence would have overwhelmed.
Another person that might have presented the Chicago story was Rev. Jesse L. Jackson. He, too, adopted Chicago as his home. His global presence is strong and might have persuaded international voting, particularly the African block.
Another champion that might have been a part of the presenting team could have been Michael Jordan, whom I understand refused to go, and Ozzie Guillen, manager of the White Sox. He could have talked about focusing.
Jackie Joyner-Kersee from East St. Louis, Illinois, is considered the best all-around female athlete in the world and the all-time greatest heptathlon athlete. She is an Olympic winner. These are all champions in their own right and are admired internationally.
Perhaps the savage murder of Derrion Albert of Fenger High School -- shown worldwide on the news and Internet -- displayed a different side of Chicago that made it look like an animal kingdom. It certainly was not a pretty picture or a warm welcome from a potential host city.
The lost bid makes me wonder if we were ever in a position to win the games when we received a mere 18 votes, out in the first round. Were we overly confident? Can we play on the broad worldwide stage? Did we engage too much political politics and not enough sports politics? Did the other countries politicize us out of position? Did we have too much star power? Were we balanced with our ethnic representation? Was there an anti-American mood? These are all pertinent questions. And we can't forget that not all of the people in Chicago wanted the Olympics here. (This was a surprising element to me.)
I supported the bid, but many didn't because there was concern about displacing people living in the areas where the games were to be played. Minority business people thought in a collective. The contracts would have been limited. Rumors spread that contracts would have been awarded to the same old cronies and had already been signed. I, however, saw the Olympics as an inevitable economic boom for the city that would establish us as a traveler's destination.
This has been a powerful learning experience for corporate Chicago and the political hierarchy. We are humbled. Perhaps, just perhaps we should pay attention to our city business. We are broke. Our children have gone wild. The youth crime rate is outrageously out of control. The schools are not what they could be. We should take these lemons and make lemonades. Let's focus on making the city work for us all. Our children need immediate attention. An answer and viable solution might be sports.
The schools, all of them, should be teaching and training the kids in sports so that they could internalize the values of the Olympic and Paralympic Games and quality sportsmanship. This is an opportunity for our kids to channel aggressive energy to learn to swim, play tennis, track and field, fencing, boxing, volleyball and all of the Olympic games. This would take the kids off the street, expend their energy in a constructive way and provide a life-long learning experience about winning and playing fairly.
Chicago's Olympic Committee could refocus with an emphasis on our youth, which is what the international games were doing anyway. Maybe we should look within and rather than attract international visitors, let's look into our own backyards and communities and teach our youth how to be Olympians and how to compete.
This is a learning experience and we should be proud of our city, our mayor and the Olympic team for a job well done. Now let's look at how to make Chicago all it can be, Olympian style. We are still the city that works; we still have the beautiful lakefront and skyline. Now let's pay attention to our issues.
We performed brilliantly for the Olympics; now let's do it for ourselves.