Gone Baby Gone: Boston Tells the Olympics to Get Bent

Vahram Muradyan

They only got rid of the last of the snow a few weeks ago. It was a hideous blackened pile of it along the Boston waterfront that contained God alone knows how many different salts and chemicals, as well as possibly a few pedestrians who went missing during last winter’s visitation from Hoth. The city’s entire infrastructure collapsed under the pressure of three consecutive blizzards. And, if you want one of the overlooked reasons for why the campaign to have Boston host the 2024 Olympic Games went to ruin on Monday, consider that the local citizens watched their entire city get paralyzed by winter — which is, if nothing else, a predictable phenomenon in the upper latitudes — and then found themselves asked to paralyze it voluntarily with tourists for two weeks. Nobody was going to be fooled into the Olympics this year.

The proximate cause of what happened was that new governor Charlie Baker and new mayor Marty Walsh were not raised as fools by their respective mommas. Baker demanded a full evaluation from a consulting firm before he would support the bid, and Walsh delivered the coup de grâce at a press conference at which the mayor said that under no circumstances would he sign on to a deal that would leave local taxpayers holding the bag for cost overruns — which are as much a tradition within the Olympic Movement as are international criminality and fat men in blazers, grazing the buffet tables. (It should be noted, however, that Walsh was a big supporter of the original Boston bid.) By mutual agreement, then, the city of Boston and the United States Olympic Committee dissolved their proposed nuptials before anyone came anywhere near the church.

Over the past few decades, Boston has proven to be admirably stubborn in its resistance to getting fleeced by the high-rent grifters of the sports-entertainment complex. That’s why the Red Sox still play in Fenway Park. That’s why Bob Kraft had to build his own stadium on his own land down in Foxborough. That’s why neither the Bruins nor the Celtics could get a new home until there was a guarantee that the city would also get a new commuter rail station on the first floor of the arena. And if the city wasn’t willing to get its pockets picked by the Red Sox, it surely was unlikely to open the vaults for the likes of the International Olympic Committee — a.k.a. FIFA With Rhythmic Gymnasts.

Still, it took a great deal of good old Boston political grassroots ward-heeling to fend off this claque. A guy named Jonathan Cohn organized No Boston 2024 and he proved to be as gifted a gadfly as this city has seen in decades. He and dozens of other street-level activists turned the poll numbers upside down and scared the hell out of, among other people, Mayor Walsh, who, as recently as a week earlier, was dismissing the opposition to the bid as “10 people on Twitter.” I’m sure Thomas Hutchinson said pretty much the same thing one night in 1774 — “10 people with printing presses” — when he saw a bunch of men dressed as “Indians” heading down to the docks. That’s just the way we’ve always rolled here. The last of the snow only recently got dumped into the harbor in which once floated crates of British tea. Good luck to you now, Los Angeles, home of four million suckers.

Filed Under: Olympics, Boston, USOC, 2024 Summer Olympics

Charles P. Pierce is a staff writer for Grantland and the author of Idiot America. He writes regularly for Esquire, is the lead writer for Esquire.com’s Politics blog, and is a frequent guest on NPR.