Sporting events are as Australian as Vegemite, the Hills Hoist, the Victa mower, kangaroos and Holden cars. We run them as well as anyone else, paramount among these of course, was the Sydney 2000 Olympics which the late IOC supremo Juan Antonio Samaranch declared to be the ‘best ever’. But could it be that as a nation we are inexorably falling out of love with them? The many proponents of events optimistically use economic impact as a battering ram into the minds of the public. Alas, all too often their inflated, rose-tinted estimates amount to empty promise and mouthed platitude. Once a given event is wrapped up, the sums are done and the impact is found to be far from what the estimates would have us believe. An Access Economics investigation indicates the true benefit of the FIFA World Cup coming to our shores would have been in the region of $1.79 billion mainly through visitor spending. The true cost, largely through the construction of stadia would have been a whopping $3.69 billion! The FFA maintained that the event would have given Australia a $5 billion plus boon to our gross domestic product! Perhaps we dodged a well-struck, vicious volley with our ignominious single vote then? In Melbourne, the F1 Grand Prix, stolen as it was from Adelaide has always attracted controversy but this invariably came from marginal, minority groups. Even dyed in the wool motor racing fans are now questioning the legitimacy of an event that costs the Victorian taxpayer around $70 million a year. Even on the Far North Coast Lismore City Council found itself in a financial mire when it hosted the ill fated Festival of Cricket which lost an eye watering $150 000 plus! Events garner significant benefits other than the much vaunted, poorly understood economic impact. These range from the physical to the cultural, and from social benefits to the environmental. At the highest echelons events showcase Australia as a place to do business, as a powerful player on the world stage. But in a democracy difficult questions must be asked and answers given. If this means an end to the use of economic impact as the sole justification for spending taxpayer dollars, events will be far the better for it!