If you’ve read this blog for any length of time then you know that I feel a high priority for the sport here in the U.S. is to host the World Championships – as well as serve as host to another Olympics.
To this point one of the key obstacles that we’ve faced outside of a lack of leadership, has been the lack of a facility capable of hosting such an event! Imagine that here in the United States with sports the huge past time that it is, and this country (one of the wealthiest on the planet) lacks a creditable track and field facility when locations such as Istanbul, Daegu, and Doha can readily apply for host duty.
I find it such a travesty that I’ve even thrown out suggestions as to how to get it done – including suggesting some sort of partnership with federal and/or local government entities. So imagine my shock when I ‘m going through the news this morning and find that President Obama has put the wheels in motion for the United States to provide one billion dollars towards infrastructure development for Rio de Janeiro’s facilities for the 2016 Olympics!
Now, before you think that I am jealous of Rio’s hosting of the Games, I actually supported their bid – even against our own. And I was happy that they won. It’s time for the Games to be held outside of the “usual” group of nations. Having said that, however, I’m sure that one of the reasons they won the bid was that they showed they had the ability to put all of the necessary accoutrements in place – including their infrastructure. I’m also fairly certain (though it is speculation on my part) that one of the knocks on the US bid was the fact that we should, but don’t, have all of the necessary accoutrements in place – primarily a facility.
While that may be speculation with respect to the Games, I know for a fact it is what is holding us back from a World Championships bid! So why are we funding development elsewhere when our need is so great here has me a bit baffled. Yes I know (for those of you politically inclined) that it is couched as “jobs creation” for US companies. That the money is to be used to pay US companies to do the work. But the work is still being done in Brazil with Brazil reaping the end benefit. We could just as easily use that billion dollars to create jobs for US companies to do the work HERE in the US – creating jobs for Americans AND a viable facility right here in the United States. Because I am sure that while the money may be filtered through US companies, they will be hiring many Brazilian locals to participate in the work that will be done. Doing so in America would guarantee that nearly 100% of the jobs would go to US workers. Not to mention that we will not be participating in any revenue sharing from the hosting of the Games – tickets, lodging, transportation, etc.
So while I understand the “political” implications of job creation, I also understand that need would be even more strongly met by developing a facility here in the United States and that the by product (facility) would also benefit us here in the United States – a double win win! Plus any revenue generated from hosting Worlds and or the Games.
So I hope that the next CEO of USATF – whomever he or she may be – is paying attention. I said this could be done and the proof is in the pudding – even if that pudding is going to be eaten in Brazil. We need to be pushing to have the same done right here at home.