The Olympics are coming back to Salt Lake City, for better or worse | Hits & Misses | Salt Lake City Weekly

The Olympics are coming back to Salt Lake City, for better or worse 

Hits & Misses

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Light the Fire
And lo, there was great rejoicing—if hyperbole—just in time for the holidays. The Winter Olympics maybe, surely, will be coming back to Utah in 2034. So, officials lit the old cauldron at Rice-Eccles Stadium from 2002. That was when we had some fun and some scandal. It was when Chris Vanocur gained fame—however fleeting—for breaking news of bribery, the kind of news that brought Mitt Romney to Utah to save the day. Sure there was post-9/11 concern about terrorism, but Salt Lake weathered the storm. Times are different now. The air might seem better, but it's getting worse. Inversions and snowfall were problems in 2002 and may be even more so by '34. The biggest problem is managing growth, political pundit Dave Owen told KJZZ14. And Salt Lake is all about growth—lots of it, along with high housing prices and a shrinking Great Salt Lake. After 2002, a nonprofit coalition started looking at how the next Games might benefit the city. Convincing the Olympic Committee to focus on Salt Lake benefits will be a game in itself.

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Shrinking Schools
Speaking of growth, let's talk about children. Utahns aren't having as many of them. Go figure, what with The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints' desire for more souls—for both spiritual and economic gain. Researchers at the University of Utah's Kem C. Gardner Policy Institute point to a 12% decline in kids from 2010 to 2020. The Salt Lake Tribune's Andy Larsen further broke down the numbers, but mostly just asks why. The answer, in a nutshell, is the high cost of living, particularly in Salt Lake. Couples can't afford to own a home. Of course, it's not just Utah. People are putting off having kids all over. The city school board has gone about closing schools for that reason, but isn't really thinking this through. "I still feel they need to more clearly explain why schools with fewer students is actually a bad thing, not a plus," Larsen writes. Maybe if there were better education opportunities, the children would come back.

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Flapping in the Breeze
Let's talk about flags and the good news that Utahns are pretty much OK with the state's new one. It wasn't just rolled out—there were contests and test runs before the Legislature OK'd the sleeker, updated design. And yet, it roiled a significant part of the electorate, who have so far unsuccessfully tried to run an initiative to overturn it. Much like the controversy over removing Confederate statues, flag opponents think the new flag waters down history and whatever significance there is in the old design, which frankly few Utahns could draw or remember if asked. "They're trying to cancel our heritage," opponent Brad Holdaway told The New York Times. Utahns aren't the only ones upset by flag designs, and some believe it's a sign of our divisive politics. The flag will become official next year, and at least it doesn't say "Don't Tread on Me" or have a hidden swastika on it.

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About The Author

Katharine Biele

Katharine Biele

Bio:
A City Weekly contributor since 1992, Katharine Biele is the informed voice behind our Hits & Misses column. When not writing, you can catch her working to empower voters and defend democracy alongside the League of Women Voters.

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