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Monday, August 30, 2004

Rick Reilly apologizes to Greece

Sports Illustrated columnist Rick Reilly tells the Greeks how wrong Americans and some others were about the Athens Olympics:
Dear Athens,

Well, we feel bad. We really owe you an apology.

So, sygnomi, as you would say. Sorry.

Sorry about the way we acted. We were paranoid and stupid and just flat out wrong. Our bad. If you want, we'll sleep on the couch.

We mocked you, ridiculed you, figured you wouldn't be ready. We envisioned you as a bunch of lazy, swarthy guys in wife-beater T-shirts chugging ouzo instead of finishing the baseball dugouts. We were sure steeplechasers would have to jump over drying cement, pole vaulters over tractors, divers into 3 feet of water.

We were wrong. It was all done and it was beautiful. OK, so the swimming stadium never got a roof. Big freaking deal. Imagine: having to swim in an outdoor pool. Let's all sue. Besides, you know what? It was more fun that way. Michael Phelps was out there so much he ended up with raccoon eyes from his goggles. He looked like a snowboarder. "Cool!" he said.
We were sure every street corner would have three or four terrorists, just kind of killing time, looking for somebody to kidnap. Some bozo said, "The only place worse to hold an Olympics would be Baghdad." Please. I guarantee you, we felt a helluva lot safer these three weeks in Athens than we do in L.A. Or Detroit. Or the Republican National Convention.

We insisted you spend 1.2 billion euros on security. You had to put up blimps and cameras all over the city. You couldn't throw a bucket of grapes anywhere and not hit a soldier with a rifle. And nothing happened. Zero. The only incident was when our Secretary of State said he was coming to visit. In other words, if Colin Powell would've just been happy with his remote, you wouldn't have had a single problem.
Why you had to pay for our paranoia, I'll never know. It's the world's problem, the world should have to pay for it. What small country is going to be able to afford to host the Olympics anymore with these insane security demands? From now on, if a country wants to send a team to the Games, it pays its share of security, based on its share of the gross world product. In other words, it's our war, we should have to pay for it.
Somebody did a poll and found that 97 percent of fans were "satisfied" with safety and security, 95 percent appreciated the job the volunteers did and 98 percent had a favorable impression of Greece. The other two percent were Paul Hamm's family.
And now you're stuck with about $8.5 billion in debt, a bunch of huge, expensive stadiums you'll never use (Hey, kids, who's ready to synchronized dive?!) and a whole lot of "Get Your Butt to Team Handball!" shorts nobody was around to buy. Other than that, Mrs. Kennedy, how did you enjoy Dallas?
As I said on Saturday, there's a lot more we need to apologize to the Greeks for.