Olympics Want Some Chicago Skin
Olympics Want Some Chicago Skin
ANYBODY GOT $500 million collecting dust under the couch? If you live in
Leaving aside Ryan's clear grudge against grammar, one has to wonder whether he learned Olympic history at the feet of Beavis and Butthead. The unassailable truth is that the Olympics treat cities like Dick Cheney treats hunting buddies. As Sports Illustrated's Michael Fish wrote, "You stage a two-week athletic carnival and, if things go well, pray the local municipality isn't sent into financial ruin."
Ryan doesn't have to believe this, but as the saying goes, he also doesn't have to believe in gravity to fall out of a plane. When the LA Olympics turned a profit in 1984, it was widely remarked how it was the first city to end in the black since 1932.
What a disturbing yet bizarrely apt metaphor. Any time someone asks you for some "skin," and you're not acting in a 1970s blaxploitation flick, it's probably wise to run the other way. But it's also apt. The Olympics always want their pound of flesh. Ryan eagerly leaped onto this metaphor like a vampire in a slaughterhouse. "You have to comply with what rules they establish, what they say it takes to win," he said with relish. "Now we know it takes city skin in the game to win!"
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BUT THERE are some residents who think that the people of this great city have given quite enough skin, not to mention blood and tears. A group of activists calling themselves Black People Against Police Torture (BPAPT) wants to keep the Olympics out. BPAPT doesn't oppose the games on economic grounds, but instead is raising the issue embodied by its name. The group argues, "A city which tortures its own residents does not deserve the Olympics."
BPAPT points to the sick legacy of Officer Jon Burge and his command who tortured hundreds in a station house nicknamed the "House of Screams." As the Chicago Reader reported, "The detainees were Black; almost all of the accused police officers were white. The cops beat them with phone books, flashlights, and rubber hose, put guns to their heads, and administered electric shock, often targeting the genitals."
Some brave whistleblowers attempted to contact the county state's attorney. The state's attorney ignored their pleas. That state's attorney was named Richard Daley. BPAPT wants Daley to explain this dark corner of his past. They want to know why Burge still gets a pension. They want
They also have a powerful ally: 1968 Olympian Dr. John Carlos. Carlos is perhaps best known for being one half of the famous Black power salute at the 1968 games in
It's a very familiar script. Political leaders start by saying that a city must be made "presentable for an international audience." Then police and security forces get the green light to round up "undesirables" with extreme prejudice. It's as much a part of the games as that damn torch. When the 1936 Olympics came to Hitler's
The slogan for the Olympics has always been stronger, faster, better. It's really guns, greed and graft. The people of
Dave Zirin is the author of "The Muhammad Ali Handbook" (MQ Publications) and "Welcome to the Terrordome:" (Haymarket). You can receive his column Edge of Sports, every week by going to http://zirin.com/edgeofsports/?p=subscribe&id=1 Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org