Comment: Risk Versus Reward

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When it comes to bidding for major events, £you can trip over your national ego and fall right into debt,Ø according to Mickey Charles president and CEO of real–time sports wire service The Sports Network (TSN), based in Philadelphia, US.

Pride is a wonderful thing until misused, misunderstood and you cant choke to death if you opt to swallow your pride but it has often been said that pride comes before a fall. Further, when you really analyse pride, it is often at the bottom of most great mistakes, makes one artificial, then filled with humility and then regret makes everyone real. Why, then, should a city or country bid for a major event, predominantly sports, spend millions and millions in the process, not ever really evaluate the after–effects, when everyone has gone home other than the local populace and do the anticipated, but more often than not, unrealised rewards justify the costs and all else attendant to same? Why do it when you pretty much know you do not have a shot in hell of being awarded the bid? This writer, yours truly, has spent considerable time in past months. . . by choice or request. . . commenting upon cities and countries that have entered this fray, this bidding contest, what they had to do, did and the after–effects. It seems at this point, that a compilation of sorts, a summary, and an opinion of the overall effort is called for and then we can call it a day. . . maybe. Whatever the event, it is not a simple thing and it is, without question, an effort built upon egotism, self–satisfaction, bovarism and bluster. It gives those in government something to do, an effort that causes chronic pains from attempting to slap ones self on the back continuously or attempting a bodily move that might allow for kissing ones own derriere in the supreme act of congratulations in the absence of it coming from others. This trail of self–indulgence for the city or country is built upon preparation and the expense of the bid process, the right to host the event and then, when awarded, the actual period of time necessary to be ready when the planes land, trains arrive, cars need parking facilities, hotels announce lack of space, dining establishments triple and quadruple prices, vendors come out of the ground with original and licensed products or the inevitable copies. When roads have to built, sports facilities expanded to accommodate the fans and tourists, housing for the athletes, the best and latest in technology put in place, people found to man all that has to be done. . . from dancers and singers to ushers and traffic directors (people and vehicles) at the various venues and keeping track of budgets that invariably are exceeded and compounded by greedy contractors that are inevitably late with what they are mandated to provide. It can take years. It will take years. And, then the curtain is about to go up and the folks that won the bid are not 100% ready. That same curtain comes down in a matter of weeks and there is an empty theatre with much head scratching about what to do with it. No one factored that into the plans. The worlds largest echo chambers are the result. Oh yes, road improvements are good, expansion at the airport and train terminals work, additional housing for the populace now that the athletes have left is also good. It is not all bad. . . just most of it. Why? Because the targeted results do not, for the most part, occur. There is a post–event period that no one factored into the projections. How did the redesign of the city help or did it make things worse? What about the environment, you know. . . that item that keeps us healthy and alive, that keeps the trees and products growing, the animals out there continuing to thrive instead of finding themselves as homeless as humans and without shelter, food or water? Will the city or country really benefit a much as they thought from the event and what, in truth, took place when all was said and done? How about costs and taxes that fell upon the locals? Aha, that was forgotten in the frenzy and frenetic atmosphere of the moment. . . who was going to pay for all this? And, the politicians that crafted the bid and took so many bows during the events, and shook so many hands that chiropractors are opening satellite offices. Is there really going to be increased tourism because of the few weeks spent on the world stage through TV, internet, phone apps, documentaries, and visitors during the events that are spreading the word? Hardly. I have always wanted to go to Brazil, to Buenos Aires, and do not need a world renowned sports event to convince me that it would be a good thing to do. Do businesses really gravitate to the country or city because of the event? Yes and no. Yes to doing work during the event, no to being enticed to come there permanently or open offices there as part of their worldwide expansion if they were not on the radar of the company before the event. Is it possible that these new and/or expanded sports venues will have potential for post–game use? Yes, possible. Likely to any substantive degree. Not. How much involvement does the community itself have, how great a say in the planning process, in the acceptance or rejection of the event? How about little or none? Yes, the community does get involved when it comes to supporting the event(s) since there is so very much to do. The volunteers abound. The young rush to be a part of it. The unemployed line up to see what they can do. It is not only a huge public relations effort on an international basis, it is just as looming and impressive for the destination since everyone has to buy into the decision to bid and then to prepare if and when the bid is won. Bidding for a major sporting event comes with Be careful what you wish for as a theme for the process. However, it is not employed as often as it should be. When does it work with confidence and really well? When you are a place where most of what is needed is already in place. It works when you are a country with an over–abundance of facilities, technology, staffing capabilities, transportation that does not require a hint of improvement or addition, broadcast capacities, readiness everywhere, contractors that are willing/ able/ready, Does the positive effect of building upon the image of the host city justify all else, from the expenses involved, after–shock, absence of achieved goals versus the few that may be realized, the few weeks of chest beating and seeming inherent gratification and satisfaction, the high when weighed against the anticipated and realized low? There is no doubt that a winning bid is the ultimate and consummate act of self–adulation and achievement. But, the question that has to be asked at all times is at what cost? The problem, as I see it, is that no one really cares. After all, it is not their money. And, as far as what is done elsewhere, they remind me of someone that comes from the government to a hearing to speak about rezoning a neighbourhood in which he does not reside. How easy was that? The folks on the committees, spending the monies, changing neighbourhoods, awarding the bids, will likely go on to other pursuits when all is said and done, relishing the photo opportunities that have helped them cover their walls with pictures taken of themselves and name athletes, as well as political and corporate dignitaries. Ego can be a devastating and disappointing driving force. About Mickey Charles and Rose GollhoferMickey Charles is president and CEO of real–time sports wire service The Sports Network (TSN), based in Philadelphia, US. Rose Gollhofer is research editor at The Sports Network. For further information about The Sports Network, visit: www. sportsnetwork. com. The Sports Network2200 Byberry RdHatboro, PA 19040 Tel: +1 (215) 441–8444 Fax: +1 (215) 441–5767The views expressed in this article and throughout the MEI site are the views of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of Major Events International.

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