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Not So Wicked Smaht: Boston's Olympic Hopes

Boston is in the running to host the 2024 Olympics.
Boston is in the running to host the 2024 Olympics.

Oh, poor Boston. Where is Paul Revere when we need him to alert the citizenry? TheInternational Olympic Committee (IOC) is coming! The International Olympic Committee is coming!

Boston, lock up your municipal bonds and pension funds.

We always thought that Beantown was wicked smart; in fact, Boston has fancied itself as the "Athens of America." Be assured, if it gets the 2024 Olympics it can pretty much count on that. The Athens of Greece has been in financial cardiac arrest because it was conned into hosting the 2004 Games.

Boston, you too can be Athens. Angela Merkel will be on your case. Grass will be growing down the middle of the Mass Pike. Faneuil Hall will be condemned. Beacon Hill, where once a team handball court so proudly stood, will now be a shantytown.

Hey Boston, you think the Curse of the Bambino was bad just because it messed up a silly baseball team for most of a century? Hold the Olympics, and the Curse of the IOC will bring down the whole city for a millennium.

Andrew Zimbalist, our premier sports economist, has, appropriately, a new book out: Circus Maximus,which details the financial disaster which comes to most every city or country that is deluded enough to host an Olympics or a soccer World Cup.

Boston says it can hold the Games for $4.5 billion. Oh, sure. And they're selling six-packs of Sam Adams beer for a buck and a quarter in heaven. The IOC tells every wannabe Olympic city that the Games will bring the world to its door. In fact, Zimbalist shows, it brings in a bunch of sports nuts for 17 days, but in the long run actually hurts tourism. Yes, Bostonians, the Olympics are a tourist negative. The Olympics do not improve — do notimprove — a city's image. It's like bidding to host an epidemic. And then when the IOC leaves town, the sucker city is stuck with a bunch of useless real estate. Boston plans to build a temporary 60,000-seat stadium. And this is the wise city that once revolted because of tea taxes.

So, with no apologies whatsoever to Henry Wadsworth Longfellow:

Listen, my children,and you shall hear
Of the midsummer crash of 'twenty-four.
Hardly a bank is still alive
Since Boston took its 'lympic dive.
The IOC said Beantown'd be beaming,
One if by TV, two if by streaming.
But after the show departed the Common
The awful message finally dawned on ...
Every high-rise and condo, cottage and home
That all Boston had left was a used velodrome.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Frank Deford died on Sunday, May 28, at his home in Florida. Remembrances of Frank's life and work can be found in All Things Considered, Morning Edition, and on NPR.org.

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