October 3, 2009

To Our Beloved Chicago Siblings,

Although our friends in Rio will certainly require our emotional and financial support in the coming seven years—and possibly we’ll be asked to offer housing to thousands of residents likely to be evacuated from their homes to make way for the 2016 Games, but that’s cool, we’ll make room, we owe them—it’s important to take a moment to thank the keepers of the Unlympic Spirit. Without them the Windy City would have signed on today for billions of dollars of debt; massive construction projects for facilities to sit largely unused after their completion, minus the three-week sports party that holds their purpose, of course; and the evacuation of our neighbors from their homes. Not to mention the three weeks, seven years down the road, during which downtown would have been *hell*.

So, thank you, competitors in and fans of the Winter 2009 Unlympiad. May your torch for democracy, non-corporate play, and the concerns and needs of your fellow Chicago citizens always burn bright.

The Winter 2009 Unlympiad

July 23, 2009

In Winter 2009, the City of Chicago and a not-for-profit organization called Chicago 2016—backed by PR firm Hill & Knowlton—submitted an official bid to the International Olympic Committee for Chicago to host the 2016 Olympic Games. Chicago 2016 claimed that over 80% of the citys residents approved of the bid.

They didn’t.

Over four consecutive Saturdays in the middle of a bitterly cold winter, a group of Chicagoans created a series of competitive events to prove it. The Winter 2009 Unlympic Games engaged Chicago residents in active dialogue—extremely active dialogue—about the 2016 Olympic bid.

The Unlympics includes real sports, fake sports, and things that should be sports but arent yet and looks at highly organized, internationally recognized, massively marketed, thoroughly branded, and extremely expensive sporting events to ask residents: shouldn’t we have the right to decide what we do with our public spaces and public funds?

Video edited by Abigail Satinsky at:

The Unlympics (and love advice) on Vocalo

July 22, 2009

The kind peoples of Vocalo dot Org invited the UOC down to talk on the radio waves yesterday afternoon, and kept us there for about an hour, even soliciting our advice on a social-networking love relationship gone sour. (Our advice was to “defriend” immediately.) Check out the show here, and learn more about the Chicago 2016 bid as well as the plans for the Summer Games!

Monday Night Peace Party: June 8

June 6, 2009

Sports Fans,

The Summer Unlympic Games are almost upon us—and the 2016 Games October 2 host city decision right behind. So Monday night at Danny’s we’re hosting a Peace Party and we’d love for you to come out and play some drinking games of your own while we start to plan our summer program. (Not a bad time to send along interested sponsors for the early August games either, so if you know any southside social justice orgs who have a stake in the host city decision and want to work with us, do send along!)

Summer 2009 Unlympiad Peace Party
Monday June 8, 2009
9 p.m. to 2 a.m.
Danny’s Tavern 1951 W. Dickens

Danny’s is the official sponsor of the Summer 2009 Drinking Games.

Attention Sports Fans!

May 16, 2009

We are currently planning our Summer 2009 season and would be delighted to have your participation. Want to host, sponsor, fund or ref a game? Great! Want to perform your magic act at our fundraiser? Cool! Have a whole bunch of team uniforms you don’t know what else to do with? Awesome! Get in touch with the UOC by sending an email or signing up for the mailing list on the right.

We look forward to seeing you this Summer!

Winter 2009 Treasurer’s Report

March 3, 2009


The Treasurer of the Unlympics Organizing Committee—prior to his retirement, pictured above—asked me to type up a few final words on his behalf. As you may recall, we here at the Unlympics have invented a little something you might be interested in called financial transparency in the hopes of creating a new model for sporty mega-events.

The notion seems to confuse a lot of people, especially other sports festival managers, so how it works is: we tell you, honestly, how much money the Unlympics costs, and how much money the Unlympics has raised. Then, if you are filled with the Unlympic Spirit, you give us some money, and we tell people about it.

The cost of hosting the Unlympics’ Winter 2009 mostly free programming has included:

            $175 in rent

            $100 in disco balls, sparklers, medals and trophies

            $50 in promotional and office supplies

            $50 in beer and, of course, Gatorade

 This comes to a total of $375.

By the closing date of the Winter 2009 Games, the UOC had raised, mostly from the $5 competitor’s fee to join the Spelling Bee, exactly $244—a full $131 short of our goal.

Now, we realize that a $131 budget deficit represents a significantly lower-than-average cost overrun ratio for a giant sporty mega-event—in fact, the London 2012 Games are currently estimated to cost more than four times their original budget of 2.37bn pounds, and are now running upwards of 9bn pounds. And those games are still three years off. Strangely, 2.37 bn pounds is the equivalent of about 3.3bn dollars—exactly the amount the Chicago Games are predicted to cost in Chicago 2016’s bid book, released yesterday. The bid book also predicts that no improvements whatsoever will be needed to our public transportation system, claims that only one hotel will be built in the downtown area, and lays out plans for drastic, permanent changes to Washington Park, where we played Class-Conscious Kickball just two weeks ago. The bid book does not describe the new TIF district in Bronzeville, allowing for taxpayer money to go toward the $3.3bn; nor does it acknowledge that a vast majority of Chicagoans do not want their tax money going toward the sporty mega-event.

But what is clear in all this is that tax money does not fund the Unlympic Games.

You do.

And following our Closing Ceremonies on February 14, 2009 at No Coast in Pilsen, we succeeded in eliminating our debt with the support of sports enthusiasts the city over, just like you.

Your contributions to this project have been enormous, and we wish to take this opportunity to thank you for making the 2009 Winter Unlympic Games the most amazing Unlympics ever.

As you are probably aware, all of our time and most of our equipment has been donated. If we were to tally the in-kind contributions of our leetle sports festival, and we had to pay that back, we’d have to charge you the same amount the Chicago 2016 committee has suggested to charge for their closing ceremonies:  $1400. (Still a bargain compared to the $1700 ticket price for the Opening Day Ceremonies! P.S. the Unlympics’ were free.)

Sincere appreciation for making this an engaging and rewarding—and incredibly successful—game-changing event. Thank you.

Finally, if you run a sports mega-event and wish to seek further information about financial transparency, please first Google the term, and then contact our offices.

Winter 2009 Unlympics Closing Remarks by AEM (Presented on February 14, 2009)

February 23, 2009

Welcome to the final day of events in the Winter 2009 Unlympiad!

For four weeks, I have been at varying times excited, disgusted, frightened, happy, but most of all honored to work with you all to raise extremely active discussion about Chicago’s Olympic bid for the 2016 Games.

In particular I would like to thank Abby, Matt, Bryce, and Roman of InCUBATE; Liz and Joe of Shameless Karaoke; Aay, our Intellectual Games champion and No Coast sponsor—although this was a coincidence; and Laurie Jo Reynolds, one of the tireless forces behind Tamms Year Ten.

During that time, we’ve made enormous gains.

  • We’ve distributed over 50 medals, and are about to give out more;
  • We’ve seen that sometimes, the way the rules get set up determine the outcome of the game;
  • We’ve helped our neighbors understand the real impact the Olympic Games may have on our city;
  • We’ve successfully rallied media entities to take new polls not conducted by the bid’s sponsors to more accurately determine support for the bid;
  • We’ve made the lack of an open and democratic process in the blazin’ hot trail for the torch a city-wide concern;
  • We’ve laughed, cried, and gone for the gold—or, if we felt like it—the silver or the bronze;
  • And the thing I’m most excited about—and I might get emotional on you here—we’ve connected with hundreds of amazing people throughout the city determined to level the playing field in the contest for our city’s future.

In short, the Winter 2009 Unlympics have been game-changing. Early polls had forecast 88% of Chicagoans in favor of hosting the Games; our own polls showed that number closer to 2%. Yesterday’s Chicago Tribune poll, in which 162,000 people participated, showed that 78% of Chicagoans do not want the games here. You helped bring that information to light.

But there’s still more to do, and to start things off, we’re going to hear a few words from Julien Ball of the Campaign to End the Death Penalty, beloved sponsor of the Winter 2009 Unlympics.

Let the Emotional Games begin!

Images from the Judge Competition

February 16, 2009

Our final competition of the evening was the Judge Competition, in which the competitors turned the tables on our judges and sat in judgment of them. Please note that our Live Action Role-Play Family Potluck Dinner, Spelling Bee, Solitary Isolation, Jump-rope, and Judge Competition have been eliminated from the judging either because winners were determined by group consensus, or because it just seemed too confusing.

Judges were awarded a range of 0 to 7 points based on their display of: FAIRNESS, ACCURACY, and AWESOMENESS.

And the competitors were:

  • Roman Petruniak, for The Game Where You Win                       
  • Matthew Joynt, for the Fashion Competition
  • Bryce Dwyer, for Run Around the Block and We’ll Time You               
  • Kristen Cox, for Class-Conscious Kickball                       
  • AEM, for Spectator Sport                       
  • Heidi Weigant, for the Synchronized Game                       
  • Liz & Joe Mason of Shameless Karaoke, for the Karaoke Competition

A special write-in category was created to judge the Chicago 2016 Committee on FAIRNESS, ACCURACY, and AWESOMENESS. Of a potential point range well exceeding 50,000, the Chicago 2016 Committee was awarded 2 total points, none in the category of FAIRNESS.


* Roman Petruniak received one exclamation point in the category of Awesomeness, valued by for the purposes of this game at 30,000 points.

** Please note that Bryce Dwyer received 4 expressions of unquantifiable love, valued for the purposes of this game at 7,500 points each.

*** Anne Elizabeth Moore received three different awards of one million poetry bucks in each category, but we’re all aware that poetry doesn’t count for much, so while it’s appreciated deeply, this did not change her final score.

Images from the Karaoke Competition

February 16, 2009


by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

In a moment already deemed among the “Top Ten of 2009”, Matthew Joynt and Heidi Wiegandt blew the minds of all in singing distance with a roller-skating / light-up glasses / karaoke combo that took first place and won them the coveted “Golden Microphone,” which Matt had constructed himself earlier in the day.


by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

Among other memorable moments were no less than eight full-room singalongs (You Oughta Know, Man in Motion, and several Neil Diamond hits were among crowd favorites), on-the-fly choreographed dance moves, and the amazing stylings of Liz and Joe Mason of Shameless Karaoke.


by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

Laura Pearson, our Spelling Bee Pronouncer, correctly pinned the crowd’s emotional milieu—they were filled with the Unlympic Spirit—with a rousing rendition of an Eminem song.

by Bryce Dwyer

by Bryce Dwyer

by Bryce Dwyer

by Bryce Dwyer

Joe Mason of Shameless Karaoke. “He becomes a different man when he does this song,” claimed Liz Mason, also of Shameless Karaoke.


by Bryce Dwyer

by Bryce Dwyer

Daniel Durden does a truly swoony rendition of Sweet Transvestite which, in addition to his labor in photocopying the karaoke ballots, rightly earned him the Silver in the Karaoke Competition.

Images from Duration Jump-roping

February 16, 2009


by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

The crowd was wowed by the supreme jump-roping abilities on display by one Roman Petruniak, who bested Jonathan Eyler-Werve in a contest that lasted no more than two minutes, total.


by Anne Elizabeth Moore

by Anne Elizabeth Moore

Despite that all games were open to all-gendered contestants, women demanded a separate competition in the Duration Jump-roping category, we have no idea why, but Kristin Cox and Kathryn Lucatelli happily congratulated each other upon completion of the game. This marked our only gendered competition in the history of the Unlympic Games.