I’ve heard of the Greeks. From what I know, they used to be naked and compete in tickling competitions. I may be wrong about that, but I can be pretty accurate without doing any research.
In my mind, the Olympics were created here in Los Angeles. Sure, athletes from other countries used to gather every four years to play model UN, but the birth of the modern games happened here. (For the sake of making a more cogent argument, I’ll remove my tongue from my cheek.)
The Olympics is the greatest sporting event in the world. Imagine trying to put this concept together today: amass people from every corner in the planet, have them compete against each other, but somehow drop the politics and cheer for everyone. Heck, we live on a planet where not everyone can agree on hating Bieber!
We all believe in the Olympic movement, so much so that they continued even as they became highly unprofitable. To a point. After the financial disaster of Montreal and the one looming with Moscow, the US was left all in its lonesome to host the games. It came down picking between Los Angeles and New York. All I’ll say is it was the closest New York ever came to hosting the games.
From the get go, we made a statement: We are ready! People from every community lined the streets to see the torch. The city was covered with murals and Miami Vice colored banners. We even a scared people off the freeways Jamzilla style!
Part of the success for the 1984 games was the minimal amount of construction needed for competition(thank you 1932), but it went deeper than that. Expanded television coverage told us more of the story. Heavy corporate sponsorship provided a new significant revenue stream. And most of all, people came! It is still the most profitable Olympics of all time even without inflation adjustment!
Los Angeles set the template for the modern Olympics. I’ve always wanted them(biasedly) to come back. The reality is, I’m glad we haven’t. 1984 was a special time. The Reagan era, MTV, computers and so on, everything was evolving fast. Even Los Angeles was embracing its expansion out to the suburbs so everyone could have their own pool.
Unfortunately, this trend continued. Traffic became progressively worse. Air quality suffered. Our older, more pedestrian communities eroded. People got fed up. Clearly we could not recreate the magic from the past, but a funny thing started to happen.
Attitudes started to change. People wanted to live closer to work. Closer to a community. Downtown started to reemerge, as did the eastside. What better point could be made when we voted for a tax hike for transportation in the midst of a recession?
Los Angeles is starting to reinvent itself again. Cars gave way to bikes. Parking spots are becoming parklets. The river is transforming its way back to being a recreation zone. The city is directing its own path to sustainability and it’s exciting to see. Now it’s time for the whole world to see.