When the Olympics come to town – Redlands Daily Facts

One of the six or seven good things about her profession of glamor is that, in opinion dodging, one is encouraged, in fact paid for, to have opinions.

They’re welcome even when they don’t agree with his boss’ opinions because, let’s face it, they’re filling a hole in the page. Take the inches from the column. The newspaper comes out every day, and someone has to have an angle.

Last week, my personal boss, Sal Rodriguez, opined on one of his, well, several pet peeves: “First, no one cares about the Olympics except tyrannical governments seeking legitimacy. Second, Los Angeles is only hosting the 2028 Olympics because no other city was stupid enough to want it, with Budapest, Hamburg and Rome pulling out.

So the following is where I sort of disagree with Sal on the upcoming Olympics, hosted by Los Angeles in 2028. Thumbs up for LA Oly!

It was especially in the simpler “Wide World of Sports” TV days of my youth that the Olympics seemed so cool. The first summer games I remember were in Tokyo in 1964. Less than 20 years after the war. My grandfather had just returned from a trip to Japan with a tiny Sony transistor radio, the first I had seen, and I was fascinated by its miniaturizing Japanese minimalism. The very idea of ​​nations gathering there to play sports just decades after trying to blow each other up was so inspiring for optimism.

The Mexico Games in 1968 were quite the opposite – a sort of political wake-up call. Yes, athletically it was totally cool when Bob Beamon went 29ft 2.39in in the long jump, breaking the previous world record by nearly two feet. It’s still an Oly record. But when the government of President Gustavo Díaz Ordaz ordered the military occupation of the Universidad Nacional Autonoma, then killed hundreds of protesters – well, as they had chanted before being shot: “¡No queremos Olympiads, queremos revolution! Then Tommie Smith and John Carlos, the gold and bronze medalists in the men’s 200 meters, raised their black-gloved fists on the podium, and I was so proud to be an American, where we have opinions, in addition to having to say what they are.

Yeah all these summers and winters later, Sal is right to be wary of LA’s next 28 games. These days it’s like China took them over and bludgeoned all the fun out of them with totalitarian boots. I hated the fake snow during Beijing’s recent silly pandemic monstrosity. The Olympics weren’t fun to watch at all. Something austere about all these young athletes, unable to mingle, no jars filled with free condoms in the common rooms.

But I have very fond memories of Los Angeles ’84. We did what we said we would do – Oly on the cheap! Southern California already had the facilities – no need for a Bird’s Nest stadium mess. The “cheerful aesthetic” colors of designer Deborah Sussman, along with her husband, architect Paul Prejza, were all we needed to touch up Southern California. The games made money, with tens of millions of dollars going to youth programs over the years. I had bought tickets; had started seeing someone dancing during the opening ceremonies; our first real meeting was at the Coliseum, for the end of the first Oly women’s marathon, magnificently won by Joan Benoit from Maine. We got married the following summer, and 37 years later, we’re still happily married.

Will 28 matches here bring the same joy? Doubtful. It’s a high bar, however. So if the athletes have fun and we don’t ruin ourselves, that’s enough. And you know what? The real reason why I’m always happy that we’re hosting the Olympics again: we’re better at hosting this global celebration than Budapest, Hamburg or Rome.

Larry Wilson is a member of the editorial board of the Southern California News Group. [email protected]

About Walter J. Leslie

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