Flying under the statewide news radar over the past several months (unless you live in Colorado Springs and regularly read the Colorado Springs Gazette) has been the surprising story of the United States Olympic Committee and the City of Colorado Springs arguing about money, facilities and threats to leave the state.
A quick Google search shows no articles including the words "USOC" "Governor Bill Ritter" "Colorado Springs". Maybe there have been behind the scenes efforts by the governor, but it's certainly silent and more behind the scenes than anything else Governor Ritter does. All Coloradans should be paying attention to the dispute between the USOC and the City of Colorado Springs as it affects the entire state.
After all, Colorado is still the fitness capital of the United States (notwithstanding my feeble weekend hikes with a 180 lb. St. Bernard who tires almost as quickly as I do!).
The El Pomar Foundation has announced its donation of $3 million to complete the next step in a complex arrangement to keep the U.S. Olympic Committee in Colorado. According to Gazette reporter Wayne Heilman, El Pomar Chairman Bill Hybl will raise another $3 million necessary under a $42.3 million incentives agreement the USOC and Colorado Springs reached last August.
Seems Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper and Springs Mayor Lionel Rivera are working together on securing the funding necessary to help keep the USOC in Colorado. Noticeably absent in the article and in my Internet search is any involvement of Governor Ritter in assisting these matters. One can only hope that he is involved because the USOC's presence is a boon to all of Colorado, not just the Springs. The Olympics are a national and international symbol of cooperation, competition and an opportunity in one brief moment for nations to come together in friendly competition for national honor.
Can you imagine the USOC headquarters being in Mississippi? Despite my friendship with Governor Haley Barbour and friends who live in Mississippi, it still rates at the top of the list of obese adults. I haven't seen many winter sports in Mississippi either. Close your eyes and imagine the USOC's training facilities and offices being in, oh, let's say, our neighboring state and my birthplace, Oklahoma. Oklahoma has the National Cowboy Hall of Fame, they don't need the USOC. Besides, it is also the home of the Sonic Drive In where you can grab a good, cheap cheeseburger and malt. My point is, Colorado is the fittest state in the nation and the USOC belongs here.
Maybe Colorado doesn't have In-N-Out Burgers (though we should) but we do have snowshoeing, skiing, hiking, jogging, biking, mountain- and rock-climbing, football, basketball, hockey, baseball, rugby, tennis, and just about every other sport you can imagine. Heck, we can even do curling here on a cold day.
It's time for Colorado (that means you, governor) and the rest of the state to step up and help El Pomar and Colorado Springs keep the United States Olympic Committee in Colorado. After all, it's much better than those hot dog eating contests we see around the country.
Now excuse me while I go grab a Smashburger (until In-n-Out gets here).