On Sunday, February 2nd, 2014…the Super Bowl is scheduled to be played in East Rutherford, New Jersey.
On Friday, February 7th, 2014…the Winter Olympics are scheduled to begin in Sochi, Russia.
Just a few days ago…the New York City/New Jersey area experienced a decent-sized winter storm, which if angled just a bit more south would have paralyzed the region as it did New England.
Just a few days ago…it was 58 degrees in downtown Sochi. Competition which was slated to serve as a test run for one of the venues was canceled. Too warm.
There’s really no point discussing why these events are scheduled to be held where they are unless you are still one of the non-believers that money rules everything. It even compensates for second-guessing, which if you haven’t guessed by now is the point of this post.
Let’s start with those Winter Games. Jim Caple recently wrote an article for ESPN.com giving detail as to just how non-Russia Sochi, Russia is…
“We’re exactly one year from the start of the 2014 Winter Olympics and I confidently make this prediction: Sochi will absolutely destroy the record for most palm trees in a Winter Olympics host city. For that matter, it could make a run for most palm trees for any host city, winter or summer.”
It’s on the Black Sea, people. It’s warmer than Vancouver. Google “warm Vancouver Olympics” if you’d like a refresher on what happened four years ago due to the lack of Winter for a Winter Games.
Russians go there to sunbathe in the summer. You know, like on the beach? This article features comments from Environment Canada’s Senior Climatologist David Phillips…
“In Canada, if somebody said “Pick the least likely place for a Winter Games” I would have picked Vancouver and, in Russia, I would have picked Sochi.”
This is about President Vladimir Putin ponying up the dough to stage a two-week infomercial about the “softer side” of Mother Russia to try to restore some luster on the old gal…and of course gain tourist dollars in both the short and long-term. Vlad’s return on investment projections are “fluid” right now because the current overall price tag for these Olympics is estimated to be $51 billion…more than four times Putin and Friends estimated when they were awarded these Games in 2007. Please take note of the use of the word “current” to describe the cost to-date. They are of course still building the infrastructure required.
Going back to that non-Russian like weather…the mountains hovering above the sea resort of Sochi apparently do feature an elaborate snow-making system – one of the biggest in all of Europe. However, they apparently also SAVE snow. They insulate and store it through the summer. Just. In. Case.
From a sporting standpoint I envision situations where the greatest athletes in the world will wind up openly questioning the conditions they’ll be placed under…Olympic officials will be making life-and-death decisions on outdoor events as to whether or not participants can participate. This comes up several times a year on World Cup circuits in locales WITH Winter…whether events should or should not be held. There will surely be safety and competition controversies galore.
But the Sochi Games are not about what’s right for sport. They’re about what’s right for Russia – promoting a state-of-the-art, year-round tourist attraction.
Which brings us to the National Football League, who in deciding North Jersey should host a Super Bowl also determined next year’s event would not be about what’s right for sport. This Super Bowl is about what’s right for the NFL’s fat-cat sponsors and partners having a chance to party hearty at “The Big Game” in proximity to New York City. Truth be told, I’m comfortable betting most of the pre-game festivities will be well within the confines of the Big Apple…opposed to the Big Landfill.
I suspect East Rutherford will get its sole moment of glory only within the confines of game day itself…starting with shot after shot of the convoy of buses trying to bring thousands of people from one state to the next. That could get interesting if the state of the weather is anything next year…like we just had a few days before this year.
And whenever game day is…that is.
A report confirmed the NFL is planning for all contingencies they created with the decision to have the event outside in the dead of Winter – a place that gets REAL Winter – including the potential of having to postpone…or even move up…the Super Bowl…because of…well, Winter.
After the debacle with the lighting system at the Super Bowl just passed you’d expect the folks in the league office to be even more vigilant in dotting all the I’s and crossing all the T’s. But wait a minute here…how can you schedule the Super Bowl for New Jersey and then not commit to play the game as scheduled no matter what? It’s the Super Bowl. It’s Super Sunday. It ain’t Super Bowl Saturday, Wednesday, etc.
You would think in conception of the concept of holding the first Super Bowl in an open-air stadium in a cold-weather region…someone would first include the Governors of New York and New Jersey fully committing their respective Emergency Management teams to design play books on how to manage logistics in any possible weather situation. And certainly after announcing the game is scheduled…not start talking about the weather being a factor in possibly altering plans.
Perhaps the 2014 Sochi Olympics and the 2014 Super Bowl should swap locations.
The New York City/New Jersey region would more assuredly provide the Olympic Committee the cold weather truly needed for the outdoor events…and the infrastructure is already in place for indoor competitions within the region. It would be pretty cool to have a Winter Olympics in Winter for a change…in the shadow of the United Nations. Perfect.
And, the NFL would regain the common sense a Super Bowl needs to be staged in a controlled, warm-weather environment. Putin’s printing money anyway…build a football stadium while you’re at it, Vlad. Those 1% folks that prop up the league would surely get a kick out of travelling to Russia, nyet? Yes, there will be a few security steps to hurdle…and I may have failed to previously note just a shade over the Sochi mountain range reside some Islamic insurgents and breakaway Republic citizens that might want to join in the festivities of an Olympics…or a Super Bowl. Commissioner Goodell wants to take the game international…what a great opportunity.
Maybe we should leave well enough alone. I suspect these two major sporting events will eventually take place in the original locations they have been scheduled for. That being said, there will be drama all along the way…weather organizers like it or not.