Want to stage the Olympic Games in your town?
There's nothing to it, really, but there are a couple of things you need to know. First of all, you'll have to appoint some committees. No potential site worth its five interlocking rings can hope to land the Olympics without 150 or so well-stocked committees. Individual committees to oversee roller skating, water skiing and tae kwon do, for instance. Because while roller skating, water skiing and tae kwon do are not yet Olympic events, they might be someday, and your town doesn't want to be caught short when the word suddenly comes down from Lausanne. You will also need a curling committee. Curling is already an Olympic sport.
By no means should you stint on the education committee, whose function it will be to provide room, board, tuition and a generous beer stipend to the son, daughter or illiterate second cousin of any member of the big-daddy committee of them all, the International Olympic Committee, who decides to get a university education in your town. Gratis, of course. If the student in question also wants to be captain of the football team, first soprano in the school glee club or chairman of the physics department, some nimble education committee member will see to it in a trice. Straight A's? Not to worry. Your grade-arrangement specialist will be on the job.
We have time only for the high notes, so listen up: If you really want to kick off your Olympic bid with a bang, make damn sure that your best people are assigned to the entertainment committee--and its three dozen all-important branches. Japan's sushi, booze and hookers subcommittee, for instance, proved vital in scoring the win for Nagano. And if those canny Norwegians on the luxury-accommodations subcom in '94 hadn't come up with that retirement island off Sardinia for the Russians, the biggest thing ever to happen in Lillehammer would still be the annual salted-cod festival. Thinking of 2010? Start planning now. The bubbas down in Atlanta managed to get by handing out free bus rides, plates of barbecued ribs and pillowcases with "Georgia on My Mind" embroidered on them. You need to aim higher. Should the odd request come in from an IOC voter for, say, his own late-model Indianapolis race car, those twin blondes from the November issue of Playboy or a half-kilo of China white, you'll want to be prepared.
After committees, the next thing your town needs is a team of lobbyists. Simply put, an effective Olympic lobbyist is someone who can slip his or her hand down the front of IOC president Juan Antonio Samaranch's trousers and instantly compel him to recall the salad days of fascist Spain and his old amigo, the Generalissimo. If this crucial maneuver can be accomplished during Samaranch's stay in your town's most glamorous $5,000-a-day hotel suite, so much the better. If not, try shooting a couple of suspected leftists in front of him while he's sipping rum punches down in the bar.
By the way, lobbyists assigned to influence even lesser International Olympic Committee members should have a minimum of six years' service with the CIA, the KGB or the Fiesta Bowl, plus a working knowledge of automatic weapons. It goes without saying that a good lobbyist will assemble a complete dossier on his IOC target--including food preferences, current roster of mistresses, whereabouts of first-born son and most prevalent 3 a.m. anxieties.
See how easy this is? Aside from committees, lobbyists and a few dozen penthouses with nicely stocked wet bars, your town will need only two more things to mount its own Olympic bid. Foremost is the firm belief, propagated for more than a century now by the fat cats of the "Olympic movement," that the games are morally superior to any mere professional sport, that the games represent amateur athletic competition in its purest, most unsullied form. After all, didn't the ancient Greeks dedicate the first 200-yard dash to Zeus himself?
Little matter that the original games were abolished back in the fourth century because ringer-athletes supplied with phony Greek passports and their partners in the local gambling trades had conspired to fix every race. Little matter that the supposedly spotless, apolitical, we're-all-just-jocks-here tone of the games has long since degenerated into a shameless display of nationalist saber-rattling, suspicious hormone profiles and petty factionalism--all mercilessly hyped by the boob tube as the cleansing flame of idealism.
Some examples. 1908: The U.S. flag-bearer refuses to dip the Stars and Stripes to King Edward VII; 1936: Adolf Hitler does his "We Are the Aryans" act at Berlin; 1972: Arab terrorists massacre eleven Israelis at Munich; 1976: Twenty-one African countries withdraw, protesting New Zealand's rugby tour of South Africa; 1980: The U.S. ice hockey team's upset win over the USSR is heralded in Washington not as a feat of athletic prowess but a victory over the Evil Empire; 1980: Sixty-two countries boycott the Summer Games in Moscow because the Russians have invaded Afghanistan; 1996: A nutjob sets off a bomb in Atlanta's Olympic Park.
Little matter that the simon-pure games now embrace such monuments to amateurism as Michael Jor-dan, Peter Forsberg and Lindsay Davenport. Little matter that a small story about minor improprieties in the bidding process for the 2022 winter games in Salt Lake City has metastasized into a global corruption-and-bribery scandal reaching from Utah to the Congo to Toronto to Japan to Australia to Georgia. Little matter that a dozen of the IOC's 114 delegates have already been forced to resign because they sold their votes for $50,000 bundles of cash--or consorted with pre-paid hookers in Sydney, or extorted spare parts for their Land Rovers in Africa, or leveraged piano recitals for their noticeably unmusical daughters in Japan. Little matter that the covers of superiority and self-righteousness have been torn off the so-called Olympic "family" to reveal the greedy, anti-democratic tyrants who run the show.
Little matter that Salt Lake City, just a bit embarrassed by the flap, recently postponed the unveiling of the 2002 Games' "official mascot." What could it be? How about a little guy in a seedy gangster suit with his hand out?
So then. The only remaining thing you'll need to stage your own Olympics is cash. Lots and lots of cash with which to refinish Senor Samaranch's bathtub in gold leaf, to wine and dine and satisfy the carnal desires of the delegations from Libya or Latvia or Lichtenstein, to grease the palms and oil the wheels of those who can be bought. And don't bother believing in the "few bad apples" theory of the International Olympic Committee's personal fiscal behavior: As the days pass, it looks like you'll have to dole out plenty of filthy lucre to everybody.
And there you have it: The Olympic Games construction kit. The flame burns bright, and as long as you know how to play the game, it can light up your town, too. Looking back, aren't you glad that Denver (for different reasons) sent the whole sanctimonious, stinking business packing back in the early Seventies?
Fittingly, John Elway was named Most Valuable Player in Sunday's Soup Bowl and remains number one in the hearts of Denver's maced and tear-gassed multitudes.
But here's to you, Mr. Robinson. Without your extraordinary efforts on and off the field in Miami, we can't help thinking, Elway and the Broncos might not be where they are today.
Eugene Robinson is an Atlanta Falcons safety with fourteen seasons of NFL experience behind him. He ranks second (behind teammate Jessie Tuggle) among all active players in career tackles. Like Elway, he is also the most recent recipient of a major pro-football honor--the Bart Starr Award for "high moral character," presented each year by a Christian group called Athletes in Action.
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By all accounts, Robinson is an upstanding citizen who is well-liked by teammates and opponents. Even those who don't go in for sermons about religious faith and its effects on football.
So when Mr. Robinson got popped Saturday night in South Beach for allegedly offering $40 to an undercover officer for oral sex, some people were disappointed. Like the members of his family, who were back at the hotel. And his teammates. And his head coach.
But the hits just kept on coming for Eugene. Late in the second quarter of Sunday's game, with Denver leading 10-3 and Atlanta deflated after passing up a short field-goal attempt in favor of a failed fourth-down carry by Jamal Anderson, Elway hit a streaking Rod Smith with an eighty-yard touchdown pass that proved to be the game's turning point.
The burned cover man? None other than Robinson, number 41.
Had he lost a step down at the police station? Or in post-arrest conversation with his wife, Gia? We'll never know. But thanks anyway, you dirty bird, you. And stay by the phone. What'll ya bet the President invites you to the Oval Office?