Sweetness And Light
1:26 am
Wed June 18, 2014

Deford: How To Host A Sports Extravaganza That Won't Break The Bank

Originally published on Thu June 19, 2014 8:22 am

You know, it is the 21st century, and it is possible to acknowledge that and make both the World Cup and the Olympics more affordable. The current waste and opulence simply aren't defensible anymore.

For the soccer pooh-bahs to demand that Brazil build new stadiums, costing billions of dollars, is unconscionable. How much more logical to utilize existing stadiums in neighboring countries, in large cities like Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Santiago.

As for the Olympics, rather than going through the notoriously rigorous process of voting for a new host city every few years, it would be sensible to pick three permanent sites, rotating them every Olympiad from Asia to Europe to the Americas — let's say, Tokyo to London to Los Angeles.

And even then, certain events could be allotted to nearby cities. For the LA Games, give San Francisco gymnastics, say, and San Diego the equestrian competitions.

The idea that such things as large cycling and swimming facilities have to be constructed every four years as, basically, a matter of planned obsolescence, is simply economically criminal.

Click on the audio link above to hear Deford's take on the issue.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

The World Cup is underway in Brazil, and there has been plenty of controversy to accompany the soccer, much of it focused on the staggering financial cost to the host country. Commentator Frank Deford says this is far from the first time a sporting event has broken the bank. And it might be time for FIFA and the Olympic Committee to update their business models.

FRANK DEFORD: You know, it is the 21st century. And it is possible to acknowledge that and make both the World Cup and the Olympics more affordable. The current waste and opulence simply aren't defensible anymore. And after all, it's not like this condition, which has flared up more than ever in Brazil, has blindsided us. At least since 1976, when Montreal and Quebec were financially devastated by the expense of the Olympics, the cost of a city holding the games and a country hosting the World Cup has been at issue. The problem, of course, is that the two major global athletic events are still locked into their ancient limited geography. Remember, the Olympics essentially started before automobiles were anything but a novelty - get a horse. And the World Cup began at a time before air travel was an everyday mode. So sure, everything then had to be centralized. Hello - we have jet planes now. We have television. So it's absolutely insane for the Olympics and the World Cup to adhere to their cramped, old-fashioned boundaries. For the soccer pooh-bahs to demand that Brazil play the cup in a dozen different stadiums, costing billions of dollars, is unconscionable. How much more logical to have utilized existing stadiums in neighboring countries, in large cities like Buenos Aires, Montevideo and Santiago?For a direct example, use the World Baseball Classic as a model. It was first held in 2006, which is to say it's a modern creation. The Classic gets along perfectly well, with early games being scattered from Asia to the Caribbean. Yes, the World Cup can still have one host country. But games could be played in several, so that the cost would not be overwhelming for the prime nation. Scandal ridden as FIFA is, the greater scandal is that so many countries dance to its tune. As for the Olympics, rather than going through the notoriously rigorous process of voting for a new host city every few years, it would be sensible to pick three permanent sites, rotating them every Olympiad, from Asia, to Europe, to the Americas - let's say Tokyo, to London, to Los Angeles. The idea that such things as large cycling and swimming facilities have to be constructed every four years, as basically a matter of planned obsolescence, is simply economically criminal. And even then, certain events could be allotted to nearby cities. For the LA games, give San Francisco gymnastics, say - San Diego, the equestrian competitions. And never mind construction, the money that it costs cities simply to make bids is outlandish. And really, the Olympics have a nerve, demanding what they do. Of course, as for the Winter Olympics, with global warming, just put the skating and hockey in Paris and find the one mountain left in the Himalayas which still has snow, and televise the skiing from there.

WERTHEIMER: You can hear Frank Deford here every Wednesday. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.