The Olympic Games are meant to showcase grace, courage and an ability to deliver under pressure. So it was especially disappointing when the International Olympic Committee elected to "slip out the back way" in San Francisco and trot the Olympic torch through town like a thief in the night away from spectators.
Sadly, they were looking for a "middle road" that simply doesn't exist. In the Olympics, you do, or you don't. You perform or you fail. The IOC should have soldiered on in the face of adversity and let the throngs of thousands not only see the torch but see the IOC's resolve, or they should have canceled the stop altogether and dealt with the public relations fallout.
Instead, when faced with a fish-or-cut-bait situation, the IOC elected to mope and fret.
But then the IOC doesn't exactly have a sterling track record for doing the right thing.
One reason the torch run has grown so ugly this time around is that the IOC has remained insulated and isolated from real-world events. One suspects, in some ivory-tower summit meeting, the committee thought that giving the Games to China might help push along the process of world peace. It was an act of social engineering. They wanted to be first in line to welcome China into the world. It was a gross miscalculation a decision that a few minutes with real people in the real world might have altered.
In short, the committee misread the tea leaves. It was apparently a bit too aloof and distant to see the ramifications of its choice.
Just as its sunny attitude about China displayed a certain arrogance and isolation, the committee's decision to cut and run in San Francisco shows a lack of connection to the known universe. And to add to the woes, the committee has lined up several other hot-button nations on the agenda to host the Games over the next couple of decades.
What looked like a chance to change the world has now become an international quagmire.
The good news is the IOC deals only in javelins and shot puts.
Imagine if they were in charge of spears and cannon balls.