I could be wrong, but I would guess that the somewhat insular Donald Trump is not familiar with the sport of Team Handball. Perhaps his Slovenian wife has educated him, but more than likely the only handball this native New Yorker is familiar with is the wall version more commonly known in the U.S. One might think, therefore, that the Trump Presidency will have no impact whatsoever on the sport in the U.S.
But, that neglects taking into account the role that a U.S. President has indirectly or directly in the upcoming IOC host city selection for the 2024 Olympics. And, should Los Angeles become the host city for the 2024 Olympics, make no mistake, that would be a huge deal for USA Team Handball. For starters, the U.S. would automatically qualify both its men’s and women’s team. Overnight this reality would improve recruiting dramatically. Exposure for the sport would increase and sponsors that wouldn’t give USA Team Handball the time of day before would suddenly be interested in contributing to the sport’s bottom line. Effortlessly, handball would get a nice little boost. And with a smart strategic plan the Olympics could even be the catalyst that transforms handball from an unknown oddity to the next lacrosse or rugby. This series of commentaries provides a broad outline of what that strategy might look like: Link
All well and good, but does a Trump Presidency help or hurt the U.S. chances? Well conventional wisdom is that it has to hurt. Donald Trump was able to surprise the pundits and the pollsters by energizing rural America to turn out in greater numbers than anyone expected. The “coastal elites” were shocked with the result. The IOC election, however, will hinge around the opinions of around 95 IOC Board Members. A board that is top heavy with Europeans who probably can be considered to be a lot more coastal elite than salt of the Earth Midwesterner in their outlook.
But, that’s conventional wisdom. A number of pundits like Olympics commentator, Alan Abrahamson, are more optimistic. Here are some of the reasons supporting the notion that it doesn’t matter who the President is:
- It doesn’t matter who’s in charge of a particular country and some pretty autocratic nations have won Olympic host city elections recently.
- Obama was well liked, but the U.S was still humiliated when its 2016 Chicago bid lost in the first round of voting in 2009.
- IOC electors know that the U.S. could very well even have another President in charge by the time 2024 rolls around.
- France has its own Presidential election coming up and Marine Le Pen, if elected, might be even more unpalatable to an IOC voter.
- Trump, if he does play an active role in the bid, is a better schmoozer than people give him credit for.
Still, I for one, have a hard believing that the reality of Donald J. Trump, President of the United States won’t be an overall net effect in the hearts and minds of IOC voters. Certainly, I don’t see him working the room and changing votes come next September in Lima, Peru the way that Tony Blair did in 2005 for the London 2012 vote.
Aside from punditry, there is also the betting markets where people can put money down on which city will win. This site currently lists the odds as:
Paris .62 to 1
LA 2.25 to 1
Budapest 4.5 to1
So, Paris is a better than even money favorite and L.A. is a more than 2-1. Since the election the odds have shifted a bit in the favor of Paris, but they aren’t much different than they were before the election. And, strikingly these odds are quite similar to the U.S. Presidential election odds, which suggested that Trump would win 1 out of 3 times. Maybe lightning will strike twice. Let’s make handball great again.
Additional articles on LA’s prospects in light of the Trump victory: