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Political Intelligence

Imagine, if you will, the best Olympics ever

It’s always darkest, Mao Zedong was said to be fond of saying, just before it goes pitch black.

Mao, despite saying a lot of other things, may not have said that. But he would’ve been nuts for this Olympics idea.

Sure, he kept China out of the Games for most of his reign, a 31-year hitch rivaled in the West only by Tom Menino. But, one imagines, the man’s innate optimism would’ve endeared Boston 2024 to him in a way the proposal has not, for some time now, found favor among the local populace.

If we are, indeed, in the Boston Olympic movement’s dark night of the soul, perhaps it is worth considering whimsically the following scenario: Everything goes completely — and outrageously — right, and history records its finest Olympiad right here in our own humble, self-doubting burg on the water.


The bid shapes up. The public and the organizers come to some sort of agreement about financing, premised chiefly on gaudy Airbnb profits for the locals who want to skip town.

The International Olympic Committee visits Boston and is smitten, positively aghast at the notion of not availing its members of our soon-to-be-perfect public transportation system. The IOC members want to do whatever they can to convince the reluctant, naysaying yokels that they will treat the city as the sports mecca — recent Bruins season notwithstanding — that it is. This is Titletown, after all, a place so allergic to failure it once threw a rally for a former Boston athlete who had left town and won a championship in another city.

And, then, when the Games get to town, they are magical, trouble-free, finally vanquishing Boston’s sad, creepy insecurity about its municipal image and exhibiting for the world the ravishing metropolis it has become.

Heroes are born. John Fish, his leadership once left for dead by the skeptics, is reborn as a new Olympic hero. He is Joanie Benoit striding into the Olympic stadium for the gold-medal final lap of the marathon, doffing his cap and pumping his fist as the adoring masses cheer.


Mayor Martin J. Walsh, having fended off for two consecutive election cycles demands that he run for the White House, begins drawing comparisons to another Olympic champion, Usain Bolt, for his uncanny ability to outrun trouble. Following Walsh’s lead, all of the participatory nations agree to unionize their athletes using card-check elections.

Richard A. Davey, after failing to fix the T during his time there and as the state’s transportation chief under former governor Deval Patrick, finds the Olympics a far easier challenge. Davey solves the “Midtown” dilemma in Widett Circle with aplomb, and the local pundits, creatively, dub it the “Midtown Miracle.”

Mike Eruzione, the 1980 Miracle on Ice hero who spent 30 years as The Guy Who Will Never Buy a Beer Again, feels compelled to buy a beer for Davey, who orders a High Life, the champagne of beers.

Patrick, emboldened by his previously successful emulations of his predecessor, captures actual athletic glory in the ring. After Mitt Romney’s inspiring KO of Evander Holyfield in the spring of 2015, Patrick — who followed Romney into the corner office, volunteer work on behalf of an Olympics bid, and the corporate offices of Bain Capital — dons the gloves and finds pugilism a sweeter science than politics.


In all, it is a fabulous realization of the dream that so few dared to dream — or, really, support — in the dark days of 2015. Once beset by a naysaying media, a cranky Beacon Hill, and their own ineffectual fumblings, the pro-Olympics forces prevail and are licensed to return to their pre-opposition stance of simply mocking those who voiced uncertainty.

The organizers learned, as Mao did of Communism, that the Olympics are not love. The Olympics are a hammer to be used to crush the enemy.

Jim O’Sullivan can be reached at jim.osullivan@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter at @JOSreports.