Another reason why sports, politics don’t mix

After failing to secure the 2016 Summer Olympics for Chicago, President Barack Obama is being questioned on whether politicians should be involved in the Olympic site selection process.

Photo By David Freyermuth
Photo By David Freyermuth

All three competing cities also sent their highest foreign diplomats to lobby for their country.

I understand that the United States should break out their big guns when needed on a world stage, but we are in a recession, and we are paying for Obama’s plane rides over to Europe. This should not be his top priority right now.

But that is not the most frustrating part of the story. A few days later, the White House announced that they would keep the first-ever White House Olympic Office.

A report by POLITICO.com stated that the official title was the “White House Office of Olympic, Paralympic, and Youth Sport.” It also says that eight White House staffers were working part time on the Chicago 2016 bid.

The White House specified that it would work with the United States Olympic Committee, as well as state and local governments, to “coordinate federal resources and act as liaisons to any organizing committee for any Olympic and Paralympic Games hosted in the United States.”

Isn’t that what the United States Olympic Committee is for?

According to their web site, TeamUSA.com, the U.S. Olympic Committee oversees the process by which U.S. cities seek to be selected as a candidate city to host the Olympic, Paralympic or Pan American Games.

No where on that web site did I find anything about the involvement of our government in lobbying for our next Olympic Games.

In the past, politicians have ruined the Olympics. After the United States defeated the former Soviet Union in the “Miracle on Ice” hockey game in the 1980 Winter Olympics, our country rejoiced in an upheaval of patriotism.
However, the decision by former President Jimmy Carter to boycott the Summer Olympics in USSR later that year, keeping hundreds of America’s best athletes at home because the Soviets decided to invade Afghanistan. The United States was one of 62 countries that boycotted that Olympics.

Obama commented on the campaign trail that he would have boycotted the 2008 Olympics when the Chinese were accused of violating the human rights of their own people.

I’m not saying that these are not serious problems, but what gives our president the right to determine whether hundreds of our most talented athletes should be allowed to represent our country on an international stage every four years. The United States Olympic team should not be one of the president’s political pawns used to counter the actions of other countries.

These athletes only get to step out of the shadows of the NFL, MLB and NBA to represent our country for two weeks every few years. And even though most of the athletes are common people like you and me, they get the greatest honor any of us could have: they get to wear the red, white and blue in front of the entire world.

So many more pressing issues are more pressing than the Olympics that Obama should be worried about. I would love to see the Olympics come back to the States, believe me, but until our government straightens out their problems, I think they should just watch from the sidelines and not get involved with foreign sports affairs.