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USOC should use Goldfinger standard

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© St. Petersburg Times, published May 17, 2001

The way I remember it, the night was perfect.

The air was cool, and the water was dark, and the music was good. My traveling companions and I were sitting at an outdoor restaurant, and it felt like the epicenter of the universe. There were sailboats on the water, and people were dancing. Soon, there would be fireworks. There was a large bridge, lighted by five familiar rings. Beyond the harbor, you could see the magnificent skyline of Sydney.

If you had been there, no doubt you would have thought exactly the same thing as I.

Yep. It felt just like The Pier.

Except for the people and the boats and bridge and the skyline and the magic.

Oh, yeah. And the Olympics.

We sat there trying to envision that Australian night, and those Games, happening in Tampa Bay. We struggled, if you want to know the truth.

There are moments of absolute clarity, when the unchallengeable secrets of the universe form in your mind. It was on that gorgeous night in Australia that this one came to me.

You should never, ever, hold an Olympic Games in a city where you cannot envision a James Bond movie beginning.

If there isn't enough romance, enough international flavor for 007, then there shouldn't be enough for the Games, either.

It is with that in mind that we brace ourselves for the beauty contest that begins next month, when the United States Olympic Committee begins to examine the eight cities -- each convinced it is the favorite -- that wish to be the U.S. candidate to host the 2012 Games. For those of you piloting your palms, our turn is Aug. 2-5. Please make sure Kumba is running smoothly.

Now, if you are like most people around here, the news that the USOC is coming will leave you with one question. That question: How will the Bucs offense be different under Clyde Christensen? Eventually, however, you might get to these questions, too:

How, exactly, do we stack up against the other cities?

And what sort of graft is still permissible?

A brief look at the cities in question:

WASHINGTON-BALTIMORE (TO BE VISITED JUNE 10-13): No doubt, the first thing the delegation will examine will be the complete dearth of Waffle Houses. We can assume this because Tony Kornheiser, the funnier-than-I-am columnist from the Washington Post, once ripped into Tampa Bay because we had too many of them. Tony, as you might know, is the natural enemy of the waffle, and it saddens him greatly that they are made in the shape of an Olympic ring.

And how does Washington fit under the Bond criteria? Pretty good. You can see James having to disarm a nuclear weapon at the Washington Monument, then rushing across town to slap Danny Snyder around.

Host for the USOC party: Ray Lewis.

DALLAS (JUNE 19-21): Look! Hurdlers are on the grassy knoll! Gymnasts are in J.R.'s house. And the Olympic flame is at Jerry Jones' office. Oops. Wait, that's whatever is left of the Cowboys' greatness burning.

Bond quotient: Small, unless they green-light that planned James Bond vs. the Magnificent Seven project.

Party host: Michael Irvin.

HOUSTON (JULY 16-19): Good point: Houston gave Carl Lewis to the Olympics. Bad point: Houston gave Carl Lewis to the Olympics. Also, there is a great danger of too many ". . .we have a problem" headlines.

Bond quotient: If he's in a rocket, maybe.

Party host: Charles Barkley.

CINCINNATI (JULY 23-26): Can a town recruit the Olympics when it couldn't recruit Jerry Wunsch? It's doubtful. But if international committee members from underdeveloped countries visit, they can drive across the river to Covington, Ky., to feel at home.

Bond quotient: Zip.

Party host: Stanley Wilson.

NEW YORK (JULY 30-AUG. 2): Oh, yeah. Can't you just picture the You-Talkin'-to-Me Games? The Olympic traffic would be wonderful, wouldn't it? On the other hand, you could throw steroid users off the Statue of Liberty.

Bond quotient: High.

Party host: Charlie Ward.

TAMPA BAY (AUG. 2-5): Look, I want to pull for my community. And when Ed Turanchik gets rolling on why this makes so much sense, you find yourself nodding along. Still, we look like an outsider, at best. Besides, in 2012 we'll still be arguing about the offensive coordinator of the Bucs, won't we?

Bond quotient: Very good. (Turns out, his mother lives here.)

Party host: Darryl Strawberry.

SAN FRANCISCO (AUG. 20-23): When it comes to getting stuck in traffic, this is absolutely the place for it. Except for that, I can imagine the Olympics in San Francisco very easily, provided it can find a place to park.

Bond quotient: Excellent (he comes for the sourdough).

Party host: Robin Williams.

LOS ANGELES (AUG. 23-26): Another (money) city (money) with (money) bad (money) traffic (money). When (money) you (money) consider (money) all (money) the (money) downsides (money), why (money) should (money) the (money) Olympics (money) come (money) back (money) here?

Bond quotient: Superb.

Party host: Robert Downey Jr.

Current standings, in one man's head: Los Angeles, Washington-Baltimore, Dallas, Tampa Bay, Houston, New York, San Francisco, Cincinnati.

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