ESPN Radio’s Mike & Mike show has not exactly been known for generating controversy or making bold statements during its nearly 18 years on the air. If anything, the show has succeeded because it’s perfectly pleasant, commenting on the sports news of the previous day and current events dominating cultural conversation without making waves. It’s good background noise and wallpaper as you get ready in the morning, do your cardio, eat breakfast or just veg out.
But occasionally, a story will get either Mike Greenberg or Mike Golic worked up enough to say something notable. On Wednesday, Greenberg was upset over the former CEO of World Sailing telling the Associated Press that he was fired for pushing for the sport’s venue to be moved from Guanabara Bay during the Rio Olympics because of its polluted water. That prompted Greenberg to challenge Olympic officials on the air.
— Mike & Mike (@MikeAndMike) January 27, 2016
“To any member of the executive [board] of the International Olympic Committee who will travel to Rio and take a swim in this water, spend one hour in this water with your family, I will pay the expenses,” Greenberg said on his show Wednesday morning.
“I will send a camera crew, I will videotape this, and I will pay the expenses out of my own pocket if you take your family to swim in this water that you are forcing these athletes to choose between their health or their Olympic dream. I will pay every penny of the expenses and I will not ask for a cent of it back from ESPN or anybody else.”
The bay, polluted with waste and sewage, is rife with viruses and bacteria, yet has been deemed suitable enough by Brazilian government and Olympic officials for athletes to compete in during the 2016 Summer Games. The waters have been tested by independent analysis and shown dangerously high levels of contamination, while several competitors have become horribly ill while training in the polluted venue. Besides sailing, other events scheduled to be held in Guanabara Bay include rowing, canoeing, open-water swimming and triathlon, as well as the Paralympics.
Not even Cosmo Kramer would swim in that stuff.
That led Peter Sowrey, now-former CEO of World Sailing to propose moving Olympic competition to nearby Buzios, a coastal resort that has hosted many international sailing events.
Based on “fact-based, data-driven models,” Sowrey told the AP, “we would never consider sailing in that quality of water.” Sowrey added that he was essentially voted out for taking his aggressive stance, emphasizing that he did not resign from his position.
So what are the chances any Olympic officials take Greenberg up on his offer? It’s surely too much to hope for, but if someone were to agree to Greenberg’s terms, it might be the most compelling content Mike & Mike has ever provided its viewers (and listeners). Just imagine Greenberg and Golic in a canoe, probably wearing hazmat suits, paddling alongside an IOC board member and one of his or her children. The ratings would be gold.