“What? Is that like, a cooking show or something?”
~The Average American Response to the Pan American Games
As roughly two of you already knew, this year saw the 17th Pan American Games take place in Toronto. 41 nations in the Americas competed, with America leading the way with 103 gold metals and 265 total metals. Many of you might not be familiar with the Pan American games, and that is because, like most red blooded Americans, you only can muster up enthusiasm for the Olympics, which is understandable. If you’re going to try to give a shit about track and field more often than once every four years, you’d better have just married a hot wife with a high school aged son from a previous marriage who you try to support in order to make him begrudgingly like and respect you (sorry, though, no matter how hard you try, he totally won’t).
For most American athletes, the Pan Am games are a way to clean up and snag a lot of metals when you only have to worry about going up against 2 of the 6 continents that field athletes competitively in international competitions. And for most Cubans, the Pan Am games are a way to defect the fuck out of Cuba. However, for a relatively inconsequential (as far as the typical American sports fan is concerned) competition, the history of the Pan Am games are both deeply interesting and kind of unintentionally hilarious. And never in the 64 years that this sporting event has been held has there been more unintentional hilarity as the first ever Pan American games to be hosted in the United States.
Because, holy shit, Chicago had no idea what it was getting itself into when it tried to plan an entire international competition in less than two years, and as a result, history will always have the wonderful train wreck that is…
The 1959 Chicago Pan American Games: The Most Hilarious International Competition Of All Time