The good folks of England are proving it ain't necessarily so. London's winning bid for the
Our "duh" moment comes in two ways. One, the use of the Olympics as some kind of additional incentive to the usual nagging of people to get out and exercise more just sounds silly. "Hey, mate, put down the pint, get your mug out of the chips and let's go throw a javelin or two, like they're going to do in the Olympics!" The first javelin will be thrown through someone's foot so that the thrower can return to his pint and his fried potatoes in peace.
And as the story notes, the Olympics don't spur that kind of response and, according to statistics, never have. This makes sense too: Maybe little kids see Michael Phelps and get the bug to swim competitively, but grownups not so much. Although I am given to understand by female friends and family that the site of Mr. Phelps' broad-shouldered physique is pleasurable to contemplate, said ladies are not thus moved to don swimsuits themselves and try racing through the water as he did (according to one: "I know where the end of the race is and I can wait for him there.")
I like the Olympics and I like watching athletes from around the world compete in them. I like the stories of the single-minded devotion of folks from out back of beyond who dedicate their lives to gaining one chance at the Olympic stage, to wear their countries' flags in front of the whole world no matter where they may place in their particular event. But the idea that there will be some kind of long-term benefit beyond some beefed-up infrastructure or fond nostalgia gets sillier and sillier every time someone tries to pile another supposed plus on top of the ones that already have been shown not to exist.
(H/T The Sports Economist)
(Edited to correct date of London games, thanks to a note from a reader. I know! Who'd believe I have readers?)