It's official, Chicago will not host the 2016 Olympics.
Here in Chicago, the locals have had a lot of mixed emotions about hosting the Games. Many people, particularly of a more conservative attitude, worried about the costs to taxpayers and worried that the Games would do little more than tie up traffic for a few weeks. To them I say, "Nothing ventured, nothing gained."
While I'm not a huge fan of most of the actual games themselves, it is kind of a let-down for Chicago and for America as a whole. While the concerns about costs and inconveniences themselves may be legitimate, the missed the larger picture. That is, while the Games themselves may well have been a money-loser for Chicago, as they have tended to be for host cities, the city would have stood to reap many long-term benefits. The Olympics are a great advertisement to the world for their host cities and countries. Many would argue that a city like Chicago needs no advertisement, but perhaps that's precicely because Chicago has hosted such global events in the past (World's Fair, Columbian Exposition). It is because Chicago has made such investments in itself in the past that has helped to make it a city with real global influence, as opposed to merely national or regional influence. The idea that Chicago, or America for that matter, doesn't need to continue to promote itself and its people is sort of like thinking that Ford shouldn't advertize it's cars because people Ford's products around anyway. One of the things that I do love about the Olympics is that we get to see glimpses of another country and another people. Everyone who watches on television around the globe remembers the images that they have seen.
Of course, many conservatives will probably gloat that President Obama's efforts in Copenhagen to influence the host city selection process have been a failure. Many will celebrate the Chicago smack-down. Indeed, many have already criticized Obama for being involved at all and Mayor Daley's opponents will have a field day as well. But aside perhaps for the opportunites to score cheap political points in the coming days, such attitudes would dismiss a larger point - that is that we all lost.