Like many others, USOC was captivated by Boston
The winning streak continues. The High Renaissance of Boston sports is extended, perhaps all the way to 2024, which would represent the full first quarter of the 21st century.
It’s not just about the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins anymore. The United States Olympic Committee Thursday selected Boston as the city that America will put forward for consideration as the host for the 2024 Summer Games.
Two years from now, the International Olympic Committee will select a host city from among a field that is expected to include Rome, Paris, Berlin . . . and Boston, the Sports Hub of the Universe.
This is a somewhat shocking development in our town and around the country. As a potential American venue for the Games, Boston was in competition with Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Washington, D.C.
The wiseguys in Las Vegas established LA as the favorite, and why not? The City of Angels has the vaunted Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum and a successful history of hosting the Games (1932 and 1984).
San Francisco, meanwhile, has breathtaking beauty, an international flavor, and a progressive population. Gleaming Washington is our nation’s capital, lush with cherry blossoms, marble monuments, and great halls of justice.
And yet the committee selected Boston, a clogged city with a cranky constituency, no downtown stadium, and a well-oiled resistance (I remain a card-carrying member) to the wild and crazy notion of hosting the Olympics.
How did this happen?
I’m speculating that the committee fell for Boston the same way so many millions of folks have fallen in love with our city over the years.
Those of us who grow up here no doubt take this for granted, but we are without question the best American sports city. Sorry to all you good fans of Los Angeles, San Francisco, Washington, New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, Detroit, Dallas, and the rest, but Boston is unique. All those other places think they are different, but we truly are different.
Boston is the only city where I have consistently witnessed outsiders converting to Boston teams. Some of it is owed to our many institutions of higher learning. Kids come here from New York or New Jersey, they study and maybe get married, settle here, and somehow end up rooting for the Red Sox. Or the Patriots.
Others move away and take the Patriots, Red Sox, Celtics, and Bruins with them. They take the Boston Marathon with them. It happens. Not to everybody, but it happens to people here more than anywhere else.
It’s the spirit of Boston sports. It’s the attitude of our teams and our town. It’s the way we support two newspaper sports sections, two all-sports radio stations, and two all-sports television networks. Boston is where you stand under a couple of dozen championship banners when you wait to pass through security at Terminal C.
Boston is where the local baseball park is a stop on the Freedom Trail. Statues of Red Auerbach, Bobby Orr, and Ted Williams stand alongside those of Samuel Adams and James Michael Curley. The parking lot next to the TD Garden is a sacred space; it’s the site of the Old Boston Garden, where history happened.
We are a city of champions and championship attitude.
We have the spirit. We have the competition. We love the argument. We have Duck Boat parades when our teams win. We showed the world what we are made of during and after the Marathon bombings.
I believe that this is why the USOC chose us. We are different. We are cynical and suspicious, but we are smart. Our love is hard-earned, but once you have it, you have it to the death. I think the USOC saw this. And fell hard for Boston.
So now we look ahead. To many of us, the notion of the Olympics in Boston seems preposterous. I remain in that camp. I believe it is a bad idea and could strangle us financially and logistically for decades.
But you have to give the Boston2024 Committee credit today. They took our best and sold it to the USOC.
Boston is the American sports city of the 21st century.