Breathing Olympic- size sigh of relief

There are plenty of reasons to be glad USOC passed us by

August 29, 2002|By Michael Ollove | Michael Ollove,SUN STAFF

Boo-hoo. The Olympics won't be coming to Baltimore after all. We'll have to find something else to look forward to. In the year 2012. Woe is us.

Let's face it, on the scale of civic disappointments, this isn't going to be the hardest to get over. Other than those positioned to cash in, who among us was really holding our breath the other day awaiting the U.S. Olympic Committee's announcement of its two finalists? Let's face it, with baseball threatening a strike tomorrow, the promise of a truly ugly governor's race and an invasion of Iraq in the offing, it's hard enough to envision Thanksgiving, let alone a bloated international sporting event that will occur on the other side of the decade.

How devastated can you possibly be about something that wasn't going to happen for 10 more years? Tell your second-grader he or she isn't going to Harvard. That blank-faced reaction is what most of us are seeing today in the mirror in the wake of this Olympics rejection.

But, wait, if you look really closely, aren't you also seeing a slight upward curl at the corners of your mouth? Yeah, yeah, we lost out again, but think for a second about what just happened. Did we truly miss out on something, or did we actually avert it?

No, we won't have the pleasure of having the whole world treated to cheesy panoramas of the Inner Harbor or - better still - the Bromo Seltzer Tower. But be honest. Would any of that have been worth it compared to all the headaches and hardships we would have endured if the Games really had come here? Is there really that much difference between the Olympics coming to our hometown and The Plague? Maybe instead of hanging our heads, we should be out there doing triple-lutzes with half-pikes or whatever in celebration of the fact that we didn't get the Olympics. Just think what we've been spared:

We can stop raising money to bribe the International Olympic Committee. (By the way, who fouled up the bribe to the USOC?)

We won't all have to get unlisted numbers to avoid calls from least-favorite relatives looking for a place to crash during the Games.

We won't have to spend years taking detours around Olympic construction sites and instead can continue spending years taking detours around the Charles Street Bridge.

We can continue polluting the Inner Harbor in peace without worrying about infecting Olympic triathletes.

We won't have to stomach the national media doing quaint stories about our love of crab, beehive hairstyles and John Waters (who, by the way, will be 66 in 2012 and almost certainly would have fled to Provincetown long before the Olympic torch crossed the Maryland border).

We won't see our good name besmirched by the a) scandal, b) debacle or c) tragedy certain to mar that particular Olympics. We'll be free to besmirch our own good name.

We won't have to construct a secret tent city deep in the wilds of Carroll County to hide our homeless from the international media covering the Games.

We won't have to get up at 3 a.m. to make it through all the traffic and security tie-ups in order to get to work on time during the Olympics. And we'll be able to get back home before midnight.

We won't have to learn how to say "Hon" in 130 languages so that all those foreign tourists will find us adorable.

We won't have to worry that the Russian cab driver doesn't know his way around town because he is, in reality, a mobster in town to fix the gymnastics competition. He won't know his way around town because he just won't.

We won't have to weather all that embarrassing international attention on violence in Baltimore - unless David Simon has another television series on the air.

We won't have to pretend that we actually have the slightest interest in the Olympics and can concentrate on rueing the latest Yankee pennant run.

We won't have to spend 10 years acting as though we can bear to be in the same room as Washington let alone enjoy being its junior partner. (Does anyone really believe that outside of here, they would have been called anything other than "the D.C. Games"?)

And, finally, thanks to the USOC's rejection of Baltimore-Washington, we'll never have to face that imponderable question: What in the world do you do with one slightly used velodrome?

Hey, you know what, instead of cursing the USOC for slighting us, maybe we should be sending a thank-you card. Maybe, come to think of it, they got our bribe after all.

The Sun's features staff contributed to this article.

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