No respect, no respect!! What Fort Worth is to Dallas, what St. Paul is to Minneapolis, what Paris, Texas is to Paris, France — that’s what Colorado Springs is to Denver.
Further evidence of our regional insignificance came today, when the names of the 22-member Denver Olympic Exploratory Committee were released. The group, charged with “evaluating whether the Olympic Winter Games are a good fit for Denver and Colorado,” is composed of “community and civic leaders representing broad interests from across Colorado,” or so says co-chair Don Elliman, Executive Director of the Charles C. Gates Center for Regenerative Medicine & Stem Cell Biology at the University of Colorado Medical School — and a certified Denver power player.
Other members include a former mayor of Breckenridge, the Board Chair of the Poudre Valley Health System, the Chairman of the Vail Valley Foundation, assorted Denver attorneys, Denver businesspeople, Denver politicians, and, representing Colorado Springs (drum roll) … no one!
That’s not just dismaying, but inexplicable. Colorado Springs is the center of the Olympic movement in the United States. Thousands of Olympic aspirants have trained at the Olympic Training Center, national governing bodies for significant Olympic sports such as swimming, figure skating, and hockey are located here, as is (duh!) the U.S. Olympic Committee.
Given that the USOC is charged with determining whether to make a bid for the 2022 Winter Games and selecting a candidate city, no present employee of the organization could serve without conflict on the Denver committee.
But past officers/employees would be eligible. And that leads to the obvious question: Where’s Bill Hybl?
Hybl, the chairman and CEO of El Pomar Foundation, is also president emeritus of the USOC, having served as president during four Olympic Games. He’s also the chair and CEO of the U.S. Olympic Foundation.
It’s impossible to envision a successful Denver bid without Hybl in the mix. It’s equally impossible to imagine such a bid without the expertise of other Olympic veterans currently resident in Colorado Springs.
It’s notable that not a single member of the committee, other than recent Olympian Jeremy Bloom, has any real Olympic expertise. All they know is what they’ve read, heard, or picked up at cocktail parties. How will they determine whether Denver has the venues, the money, the transportation network, and the skill sets to host the games?
So what’s going on? It may be that this exploratory committee is merely a preliminary group, soon to be replaced by a bid committee. It may be that Hybl is quietly directing the whole effort behind the scenes. But, as Occam’s Razor teaches us, the simplest explanation is also the most likely to be accurate.
The organizers of the committee, including Gov. John Hickenlooper and Denver Mayor Michael Hancock, probably meant no disrespect to Colorado Springs If asked, they’d probably use Steve Martin’s immortal line.
"We just forgot!"