The week that was for Peter Ueberroth: NBC Olympic Channel, another L.A. Olympics reinforce his legacy

The week that was for Peter Ueberroth:  NBC Olympic Channel, another L.A. Olympics reinforce his legacy

Peter Ueberroth was uncharacteristically understated when I gave him the chance to gloat in a phone conversation last week.

Ueberroth, the man who brought financial stability to the Olympics in 1984 (until recent host cities went wild) and enduring organizational stability to the U.S. Olympic Committee, simply refused to look back.

“I live in the present and future,” Ueberroth, 79, said from his farm in northern Idaho.

He could say, “I told you so,” now that one of his most criticized and roundly dismissed ideas (yes, I was among the critics) to promote the Olympics and Olympic athletes is about to be fully implemented in the United States.

The Saturday debut of NBC’s 24/7/365 “linear” Olympic Channel ("linear" is industry jargon for over-the-air and cable television) validates the actions Ueberroth took nearly a decade ago to create a similar network, no matter that the effort failed in part because of his headstrong approach to pushing it.

Once viewed as Ueberroth’s folly, guaranteed to suck money from USOC coffers, an Olympic Channel has become an integral part of Olympic marketing strategy.

I asked if he felt vindicated.  He parried the question.

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For Abbott, a figure skating career of brilliance and tarnish

For Abbott, a figure skating career of brilliance and tarnish

What to make of Jeremy Abbott’s competitive figure skating career, now that he used a Thursday interview on the icenetwork podcast, “Ice Talk,” to bring it to an official end?

He was a blend of unquestionable brilliance and baffling mediocrity, the latter covering many of his scintillating moments in a dull finish.

With four senior titles, Abbott is among most decorated men’s skaters at the U.S. Championships.  In the past 65 years, only Todd Eldredge has won more national titles (six).  Abbott won all his in the International Judging System era; no other U.S. man has won more than two in that 12-season period, none more than one in the nine seasons since Abbott won his first.

Abbott skated like a world-beater at several of those U.S. Championships, none more so than 2010, when his performances were better than those of the medalists at the Vancouver Olympics a month later.

And he skated at various levels of back-in-the-pack inconsequence in all his global championships, none more so than those 2010 Olympics, when he was 15th (!) in the short program and ninth overall.

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Why L.A. 2028 might not be such a good deal - for the city or the IOC

Why L.A. 2028 might not be such a good deal - for the city or the IOC

Now what for Los Angeles and a Summer Olympics it apparently won’t have until 2028?

For a number of reasons, an unprecedented 11-year wait between being named host city for the Games and staging them is fraught with potential pitfalls.

Costs will rise.  Contracts may need renegotiation.  Opponents will have more time to make their case.  The political landscape in Los Angeles could change dramatically.

Such issues need to be addressed because all signs currently point to the International Olympic Committee deciding in July to award both the 2024 and 2028 Summer Games rather than have Los Angeles and Paris contend for the lone prize they originally thought was at stake, the 2024 Olympics.

And, although this is less certain, the conventional wisdom now is that the IOC will not be smart enough to see the obvious reasons for giving 2024 to Los Angeles rather than Paris.

 

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Olympics are the gift that keeps on giving - for the IOC

Olympics are the gift that keeps on giving - for the IOC

News, followed by views - my takeaways from the International Olympic Committee’s Friday executive board decisions and IOC President Thomas Bach’s comments about them:

First, a summary of the decisions:

*The executive board recommended, as expected, the unprecedented idea of awarding the 2024 and 2028 Olympics at the same time.  That must be approved (rubber stamped?) by the full IOC membership at a July meeting that also will presumably approve a process to decide which of what were to be two 2024 finalists gets which one, even though it seems apparent it will be Paris 2024 and Los Angeles 2028.

*In an effort to make future bid campaigns (beginning with those for the 2026 Winter Olympics) less onerous both financially and time-wise, the board recommended cutting the bid campaign period from two years to one and having the IOC involved in selecting and working with bidders that have a chance to win the support of their citizens – local, regional and national.

*The IOC made substantial changes in the sports program of the 2020 Olympics, adding events (among them:  three-on-three basketball, BMX freestyle park, mixed gender relays in track and swimming) to make the Tokyo Summer Games program, in Bach's words,  “more youthful, more urban and (including) more women.”

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A cautionary tale in book about Boston's Olympic bid demise

A cautionary tale in book about Boston's Olympic bid demise

“Hence, horrible shadow!  Unreal mockery, hence!”

                                                 --Macbeth, Act III, Scene IV

Like Banquo’s ghost, the specter of dead Olympic bids will be in the room to haunt the International Olympic Committee’s executive board Friday as it discusses an extraordinary, temporary ablution of the bloody mess past vainglories have left.

And the spirit of No Boston Olympics also will hover over the proceedings in Lausanne, Switzerland, reminding the IOC that its days of selfishly dictating terms to supplicant cities are ending, at least where democratic countries are concerned.

The 2015 victory by an underfunded group of seemingly quixotic volunteers over the wealthy, politically vested interests who pushed for Boston as the 2024 Summer Olympic host serves, like Macbeth, as a cautionary tale about the limits of power and wanton ambition.

So worried is the IOC about the impact of having its members vote in September to reject either Paris or Los Angeles, the two great cities (and the only cities) still seeking the 2024 Summer Olympics, that it is apparently set to approve an unprecedented process after which one city will get 2024 and the other, 2028.  (L.A. likely has the latter.)

This is a clear case of the chooser having been turned beggar.

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