Forget the Pan Am Games bid

STEVE BUFFERY -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 9:20 AM ET

A certain nameless wag who covers basketball for one of Canada's national newspapers once described me as "The king of the career-limiting move."

Which isn't that far off.

I've said and done some incredibly stupid things during my 22-plus years at the Sun, pretty well guaranteeing that I never will be given the keys to the publisher's office. Of course, a lack of talent, drive and brains, as well as an inability to get out of bed before noon, hasn't helped either.

I've had yelling matches with every one of our sports editors here, with the exception of George Gross, my dear departed friend, who would have ripped my tongue out and used it as a book marker if I had given him any lip.

And it's not only my mouth that has landed me in trouble. Once, during a break from sharpening pencils, or whatever it was I did at the time, colleague Perry (Lou) Lefko and I engaged in a spirited wrestling match for the boys on the sports desk.

KICKED OVER CHAIRS

We kicked over chairs and books and smashed a coffee cup or two, and just as I was pinning Lou to the floor, our founder and publisher, Doug Creighton, wandered into the department and stood over Lou and I. We thought for sure that we were going to get fired. But nothing happened. One theory is that Creighton had no idea who we were. My theory is that Creighton was just a really cool dude who didn't mind a couple of "good guys" blowing off steam. The sports editor found out though, and we got royal s--- the next day.

Anyway, a few weeks ago, the headline on the front page of our paper screamed: "Go for it, Toronto! Let's get together and do everything we can to bring competition to our city."

It should have read: "Go for it, Toronto! Let's get together and do everything we can to become more bush league than we already are right now."

Basically, the Toronto Sun has reached the fabulous conclusion that it would be a great idea for Toronto to bid for the 2015 Pan American Games.

I guess the thinking is, we can't get an Olympic Games (we've tried twice, including a bid for the 2008 Games, which are scheduled to be held this summer in Beijing), so let's settle for second-best.

Well, I have news for every-one, including the deep thinkers at the Sun. If we get the Pan Am Games, we'll be a laughingstock as a so-called international city.

Three Canadian cities have been host of, or will host, Olympic Games -- Montreal, Calgary and Vancouver. If we settle for the Pan Am Games, we'll forever have to live down the fact that we couldn't get the big one, while three smaller Canadian cities did. To me, that would be embarrassing. We're supposed to be a world-class city (or so the theory goes), not some provincial backwater.

A few years ago, the Pan Am Games meant something big. But, believe me, they don't any more -- and that's not a shot at any athlete who has competed at a Pan Ams.

In non-Olympic years, most amateur sports, such as track and field and swimming, focus on their own world championships as the major event of the year. In years past, track and field athletes would look at the Pan Ams as the big event of the season. Not so much any more. The world championships, World Cups and Olympics are where it's at now.

In years past, the sports media in the Western Hemisphere flocked to the Pan Am Games. I was one of them. But not anymore. Newspapers don't cover the Pan Ams like they used to. Neither does television. Hell, there wasn't even any Canadian network TV coverage at last year's Pan Ams in Rio de Janeiro.

And I don't care what any poll says. Torontonians will not come out in droves to support the Games. We don't support junior hockey, we don't support the CFL very well. Anything that's not considered "major league" basically gets ignored in this town.

Of course, my opinion means squat at our place. So I'm sure the Sun will continue to support a bid for the 2015 Pan Ams -- even though, in my humble opinion, we should continue to shoot for the stars and try to land a future Olympics.

But if we're going to bid for a Pan Am Games, why don't we bid for some other second-rate events? We attempted to get the 2015 World's Fair and failed. Instead of trying to get another one, let's bid for a county fair!

And while we're at it, let's drop the idea of landing an NFL team and try to return to the Arena Football League instead!

Listen, places such as Guadalajara, Indianapolis and Winnipeg have been hosts of Pan Am Games.

Yeah. Let's try to be like Winnipeg!


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