The following is an excerpt from Thursday's speech by Scott Blackmun, the leader of the US Olympic Committee:
Many of us are fortunate enough to have been involved in sports for a long time. One of the lessons we learn from sports is that you don't win all of the time. In sports, we get knocked down. In sports, we get back up. And in sports, we learn. I'm going to talk today about a few of the lessons that sport taught us this year.
I don't usually give titles to my address at the Assembly, but this year is different for a lot of reasons ... and so I'm calling this talk, A Second Chance.
The first half of this year was the most unsettling and challenging time in my professional life—and certainly the toughest phase of my leadership of the USOC.
For eight months this year Larry and I lived on large slices of that always nourishing ... humble pie. But we're sleeping better now because of one American city ... a city that stood up and gave us a second chance when we needed it most.
I don't want to dwell on the negatives of Boston, and I will not offer any excuses for what happened. But I do think you are entitled to an explanation, and here it is.
The Boston bid had great promise. It was a riskier bid, but also a bid that resonated with Agenda 2020, the IOC's initiative to make the Olympic Games more affordable and sustainable.
It was very appealing because it would rely on, as well as leave behind, university sport facilities. It was appealing because of the great network of international influencers that had been educated in Boston. It was appealing because it is a hub of technology, innovation and medicine.
Despite all those things, the Boston bid failed because, from the beginning, it was not a bid supported by the people of Boston. We believed that Boston would ultimately embrace the Olympic Games because we believed, in our hearts and minds, that the Olympic Games would be transformational for the City of Boston and for the Olympic Movement. We were assured, and we believed, that the Boston bid leaders could rally the citizens of Boston. That did not happen for a number of reasons which I will not belabor here today.
The question is, should we have taken the risk? In hindsight, the answer is no, just like it is for the Seattle Seahawks and their decision to throw at the goal line in the closing moments of the Super Bowl. We made a bad call. But here's the thing. Unlike the Seahawks, we have not, lost, the game.
We are back on our feet, we have found a second chance waiting and the whole game is in front of us.
Before I move on from Boston, you need to know that, when we were down, we never felt abandoned.
You reached out and you stood with us. We felt the support of America's Olympic and Paralympic family in very real ways, especially at the worst moments, and that gave us the resolve to work through the crisis, to make the hard decision we had to make, and to move on. So thank you for your support—it made all the difference in the world.
Second chances ... starting over ... born again ... new directions ... the act of reinvention ... these are all inherent in the American character ... we are a nation of second chances ... and they are also part and parcel of the essence of sport.
As we all know, there's never been a champion who didn't have to overcome a setback ... or make a comeback.
And now the great city of Los Angeles—the world capital of entertainment, the epicenter of imagination, a citadel of storytelling, a city, as you will hear, with an unrivaled set of existing and new sports venues, a city with a plan tailor-made to fit the vision of Agenda 2020 ... has embraced the opportunity to host the Olympic Games for a third time—and given us a second chance that we intend to make the most of.
And that means making sure that all of you are engaged in this bid with us. We're in this not as a National Olympic Committee and a Bid City ... but as an Olympic and Paralympic Nation ... and a national Olympic and Paralympic Family.
We need everyone aligned in this effort. We need to find the right formula to nationalize LA 2024 ... to make it America's campaign and make sure all of our constituents, their families, and friends are engaged in support of LA's quest.
And we can do it. Look at what we were able to accomplish together this year for Olympic Day. In June of this year, we orchestrated more than 1,800 events in 1,300 cities, across all 50 states.
We had more than 630,000 participants, including nearly 1,000 Olympians and Paralympians.
That's obviously just one example, but it's a snapshot of what we can accomplish together. LA 2024 will be a two-year campaign—and you're going to be a vital part of it.