Thursday, May 26, 2005

The International Olympic Committee and the NFL Still Think They Can Con American Cities

The International Olympic Committee and the National Football League still seem to think they can con American cities into giving them a free ride, build stadiums with public money and guarantee that these smug organizations won't have to spend any of their own money to put on their events.

There should be no free ride for sporting events. There are too many more worthy causes to spend public money on.

The L.A. Times editorialized again this week against spending public funds to lure an NFL team to Los Angeles, and advised the NFL to take the existing L.A. Memorial Coliseum for a new Los Angeles franchise and stop dithering.

The trouble is that after selling a bill of goods to so many other cities, the NFL doesn't want to admit it can't do the same in Los Angeles. It fears this would set a bad precedent. Since they are determined to be pig headed, the chances of bringing a team back to L.A. are less than most football boosters in the city would like to pretend.

I don't think this is all bad. Big time pro sports are something we can easily live without, as we've proved with football for a decade now. Maybe we couldn't stand not having the Dodgers or Lakers, but we certainly have done fine without pro football.

Now, with a July 6 date looming for the International Olympic Committee to choose a city for the 2012 Summer Games, the IOC is confronting New York with the same ridiculous demand it once dmade in the case of Los Angeles -- namely to promise that the city will guarantee the IOC against any losses.

This should be rejected just as firmly as Los Angeles voters once did, in relation to the 1984 Games. The IOC recently told the New York Times that a letter Los Angeles signed with the U.S. Olympic Committee provided such a guarantee. It did not, since the U.S. Olympic Committee had no money to provide for such a guarantee, and Los Angeles wasn't giving one.

The New York Legislature has been balking at agreeing to pay, at least partially, for a new stadium on the West Side of Manhattan. So, at this moment, it seems as if Paris or some other city will win the July 6 vote. Maybe New York, not the stubborn city Los Angeles is, will want to put some public money in a stadium, to save the Olympics. But if not, it's the IOC's loss, not New York's. It doesn't need the Olympics to prove it's a great city.

Basically, however, there is no reason to let these plutocrats at the IOC live off the taxpayers to put on an event that can be financed privately, as Los Angeles did.

Henry Adams once observed, "You can't use tact with a Congressman, you have to take a stick and hit him in the snout!" The same admonition is appropriate in dealing with national and international sporting authorities.


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