Tuesday, July 26, 2016

An Open Letter to Janet Evans About the 2024 Olympics

Once again, I'd like to address Olympic swimming champion Janet Evans in the second person, specifically in her capacity as Vice Chair of the Athletes Commission for Los Angeles' bid for the 2024 Olympic Games.
Dear Janet:
You know I love you, right?  That goes without saying . . . mainly because I've already said it on this blog.  So please bear that in mind when I say that I think that Los Angeles' bid for the 2024 Games is a really bad idea.  Why?  Because Los Angeles has already hosted the Games twice.  And things have changed in southern California since the city last hosted the Olympics in 1984.  For one thing, the greater Los Angeles area is more populous and more congested . . . and the city itself is still a dispersed, car-dependent place, despite some growth in the area's public transportation network.  Also, in addition to the ever-present threat of an earthquake, it's had to deal with riots, wildfires, and now the longest drought in California history.  Janet, as a lifelong southern Californian, you are obviously aware that your home region is on the edge of the desert.  It gets its water from hundreds of miles away.  With the current drought having no end in sight and with the possibility of drought conditions always very real in the future, is it really worth it for LA to host the Olympics again?
Also, Janet, and please forgive me for saying this, I would like to see a real American city host the Olympics the next time around.  Los Angeles has never been so much a city as it is a collection of suburbs without much of a core.  And, obviously, I didn't think much of Atlanta either.  New York and Chicago, both cities that have bid for the Games in the past, are real cities, with dynamic downtowns, vibrant cultural and literary life, and neighborhoods that are just as colorful as any in LA . . . maybe even more so, in fact. They already have superb sports facilities that are ready to go with a good freshening up, and it's easy to get around both cities thanks to their excellent public transportation systems.
Also, Janet, there are other cities with urban frameworks as solid as those of New York or Chicago, and they could use a good deal of investment. Philadelphia, for example. Philadelphia considered bidding for the 2024 Games but backed out. But while it does have good athletic facilities, many of its neighborhoods have been down on their heels, there aren't that many jobs there, and the city could use some badly needed investment. An intelligently designed Olympic village could provide housing after the Games, and its subways and streetcars could be expanded. Okay, my father's family is from Philadelphia, so I have some hometown bias there. How about Detroit, Janet? If any city needs a shot in the arm from a prestigious sporting event, Detroit is it.
Well, I could go on, Janet, but I think I've made my case. In my humble opinion, LA in 2024 isn't going to work. Oh, I know you've said that Los Angeles has the experience from the past Olympiads it hosted in 1932 and 1984, but, again, things are different today, and another American city deserves a chance. I'm not telling you to quit your position with the city's Olympic bid effort, and I would never tell you what to do in any situation, but, no, I don't think this is a good idea.  I don't think Los Angeles will get the 2024 Games anyway.  Another American city should bid in 2028.
However, I'd rather see you do work for the LA bid than do another reality show with a seventies sitcom actor.
Take care. Sorry we have to disagree on this issue.

Steven Maginnis
P.S.  Have a good time in Rio; just don't drink the water!

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