Olympic Glory, Diverted

There is no winning in losing

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    NEWSLETTERS

    TK
    AP
    Imagine what could have been.

    Tonight, Chicagoans, we hang our tail between our legs.

    Sometimes, you win by losing.

    And sometimes, you just lose.

    If Chicago had to be described in one word, it would be 'proud.'

    The nickname "Second City" was originally meant to be a knock on Chicago, but we took it and ran with it, happily adopting it as a moniker. We didn't look upon the (former) Sears Tower with any less honor when it was officially declared to not be the tallest building in the world in 1998. And we certainly won't allow New Yorkers to tell us their pizza is better than ours.

    A city of the Midwest, we are proud that we have a subtler, gentler presence than our coastal neighbors do. In fact, our Olympic bid to the IOC had to stress that, perhaps contrary to global belief, we are actually a large metropolis that can accommodate a global audience, exemplified by the Gay Games, the 2007 AIBA World Boxing Championships, and the 1994 FIFA World Cup.

    Maybe that is why so many people opposed Chicago's bid for the 2016 Olympics. They wanted to present Chicago to the world in its best light: with better infrastructure, with a better economy, and with a better handle on things in general.

    But in lieu of all that, Chicago, known for its impressive architecture, built a glitzy and glamorous façade for the IOC.

    When the Committee came to visit in April, Daley showed them newly paved roads and plans for a brand-new "modern" village, built completely from the ground up (and looking like a sore thumb in a sea of skyscrapers). And when it came time for the bid, Daley sent celebrities(!) to Copenhagen to dazzle and influence voters.

    Yes, Chicago, we are a proud city. But is Oprah really our claim to fame? Is that who we want representing us on a global level?

    We understand that we needed to put our best foot forward. And some of us desperately wanted to see the Games come to our humble abode. But pretending to be something we're not was not the way to go.

    We are not glitz. We are not glamour. We are not celebrities.

    We are the Midwest. We are a beef-eating, corn-fed, husky-build, Big-Shoulders collection of communities. Daley dressed us up in a tux and sent us out to dance, and we tripped over our own big feet.

    And while it may not be our fault—as rumors of Salt Lake City scandals, Euro-bias, and racism fly—it still stings.

    Because, despite our T-shirt-and-jeans appearance, we are a dignified city. For many of us, this wasn't about jobs or the economy or "circuses."

    This was about pride.

    And we lost.

    Matt Bartosik, a "between blogs" blogger, is a born-and-raised Chicagoan.