At Large

What Happens Here…

Next time the Olympic games maybe should be hosted by Athens, Georgia.

By 8.18.04

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"What do Boston, Massachusetts, and Athens, Greece, and Las Vegas, Nevada have in common?"

I give up. (I always give up to Uncle Pundit's delphic queries.)

"What happens here, stays here."

Now, I know that is the Vegas advertising slogan, designed to assure "uncles" that if they take their "nieces" to the place for the weekend the wife will never find out.

"Yes, a pledge of anonymity, of no word escaping. For John Kerry, it was the convention in Boston. No bounce. No leakage. No echo. A week later, as if it never happened. What happened in Boston stayed in Boston."

But what about Athens? I presume you are saying the same of the Olympics?

"Exactly."

But the games are televised all over the place. They pop up on cable channels all the time, mostly while we sleep here in America. The time difference is tough.

"There's no time difference in Greece itself, and scant attendance. Again, no bounce, played in empty venues. No buzz, even in Athens. Might as well be Athens, Georgia. Even the women's beach volleyball, where they play in g-strings, doesn't cast a shadow. Even America's great swimmer guy gets beat by an Aussie in a body suit and Spitz's medal record can't be equaled."

Speaking of getting beaten. How about that basketball team, the NBA guys, falling to Puerto Rico?

"The guys there are not the ones who need their names in headlines. At least they are there to play and get beat. It's the dozen or so NBA-ers who declined the invites to come who need spot lighting."

But it's a free country. They don't want to go, they don't have to.

"But these are guys with a net worth approaching that of Des Moines. You'd think they'd jump at the chance to represent Old Glory at the games. All it means is getting in shape a few weeks before the paying playing season.

"And speaking of paying, is there anybody left who isn't getting something out of this? A big endorsement contract? Something? Ever hear of a guy named Brundage? What would he say to shipping off a load of professional athletes to compete in the world's great amateur meet? He'd tear a toga."

Yes, but those pure days are over. Nobody gets ostracized for having a drink on the boat on the way over, not anymore.

"So you do know about Brundage and the days of purity?"

A little, Uncle. Just a little. And I begin to see what you mean about no bounce, no fizz, no there there.

"This keeps up and the world looks at the drachmas Greece put out for this thing. Heck, they could've bought Cyprus from Turkey for that kind of money. Before long, they'll have to draw straws to see who hosts the thing, and the short straw will have do it or get thrown out of the U.N.

"Yep. Like I say, 'what plays in Athens stays in Athens.'"

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About the Author

Reid Collins is a former CBS and CNN news correspondent.