Rundles Wrap-up: Don't Buy the Olympic Hype

Colorado political, business and civic leaders preached the “gospel of prosperity” in announcing an intent to pursue a bid for the state to host the 2030 Winter Olympic Games

Did you see the recent news stories about two mega-church pastors asking their followers for $54 million to $65 million to buy luxury jet airplanes to enhance their abilities to spread the gospel worldwide? These people preach the “gospel of prosperity,” in which “financial blessing” comes from worshipping God, and of course, from donations to ministries that will increase one’s material wealth. I suppose these preachers are flying high by Providence. This all came down at the same time the annual “best paying majors for college students” came out. I saw no mention of “theology.” 

It all came to my attention at the very same time that many Colorado political, business and civic leaders preached their own “gospel of prosperity” in announcing an intent to pursue a bid for the state to host the 2030 Winter Olympic Games. That the Denver and Colorado Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Exploratory Committee, after months of study, came out with the recommendation to go for the gold, as it were, was no surprise; heck, I could have written their report before they ever deliberated. Good for the economy, all private funds, no taxpayer dollars, solidify Colorado as a worldwide leader in winter sports, huge and positive economic impact, anything built can be repurposed for the benefit of communities, the games will pay for much-needed I-70 upgrades, yada yada yada. The committee’s conclusions were so predictable, it’s a wonder they bothered with the process at all.

The committee did one thing that was surprising: They called for a public vote on whether this state should make a bid for the games, a non-binding vote that could come as soon as 2020. They feel confident about the support, bolstered by a poll issued in January that revealed voters statewide, by a wide margin, favor making a bid. We’ll see about that; polling, particularly these days, has a tendency to be agonizingly partisan.


HOW THE OLYMPICS PUT COLORADO ON THE WORLD MAP


Count me as a skeptic, for a variety of reasons. First, it always amazes me how the heavyweights in politics, business and civic ventures can come out full throttle for anything having to do with sports, while these same people – with vested interests – say little about things like funding education or homelessness or affordable housing. Second, – and this is key – to even suggest that something as massive as an Olympics can be staged without public funds is absurd on its face. Even if the private money pays for I-70 and infrastructure enhancements (a big “if”), public entities and facilities will be involved at taxpayer expense, and public funds will pay for law enforcement and security. Third, no matter what you do to improve infrastructure, building up for the games and staging them will add massively to Denver’s and the I-70 corridor’s already overcrowded situation; nothing in the committee’s plan addresses any of that except for I-70.  Fourth, a ton of resources, especially in construction, where resources are already stretched thin, will need to be diverted for building and staging the games. 

Having stated all of that, you might think I am against bidding on the Olympics. I’m not. I just don’t buy one word of the hype.

Plus – and this is where things get sticky – there’s already opposition in the form of an effort called NOlympics, titularly headed by that old curmudgeon himself, former Colorado Gov. Richard Lamm, who famously came to prominence in the early 1970s by leading the unprecedented charge for the state to reject the already-awarded 1976 Olympic games. I realize that’s a long time ago, but I suspect both the U.S. and international Olympic committees have long memories. The new pro-Olympics leaders must sense that too, or they wouldn’t have endorsed an unnecessary public plebiscite on the matter. 

The Olympics could be fun – if, if, if. It would also be fabulous if I became a multi-millionaire by tithing to a wacky preacher’s luxury jet initiative. I think instead, I’ll go back to college for a dual major in Divinity and Sports Management. With a minor in Aviation.

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