Chicago's Sporting Legacy
The various legacies enjoyed by Olympic host cities such as Barcelona, Vancouver and London are well documented, but the process of bidding to host the Games can also lead to numerous long- and short-term benefits for the cities involved.
Chicago, for example, was one of the bid cities for the 2016 Olympic Games, which were eventually awarded to Rio de Janeiro. Although the American city missed out on the chance to host the Games, it was able to use the bid process to create a youth sports organisation that encourages children in Chicago to participate in sport, while also using sport to address wider social issues and teach positive values and leadership.
“They [Chicago’s bid leaders] decided very early on that there would be a legacy of the bid, win or lose, that got more kids in Chicago involved in more Olympic sports,” explains Patrick Sandusky, Chief Communications Officer of the United States Olympic Committee (USOC) and a member of the Chicago 2016 bid committee.
The result was the World Sport Chicago (WSC) organisation, which was created in 2006, when Chicago was vying with Los Angeles, San Francisco, Philadelphia and Houston to be chosen by USOC as the United States’ applicant city for the 2016 Olympic Games.
Six years after its formation – and despite Chicago missing out on the race to host the 2016 Games – WSC is still going from strength-to-strength and has so far worked with more than 30,000 local youngsters by introducing them to new sports such as archery, athletics and wrestling, providing coaching and training opportunities and launching a scholarship programme to reward young people who demonstrate a commitment to Olympic values.
WSC has also created a highly innovative programme called B.A.M. (Becoming a Man) Sports Edition – a project that tackles the issue of youth violence and seeks to provide a safe and engaging environment for at-risk male students in some of Chicago’s most challenged neighbourhoods.