To paraphrase a famous utterance, the financial agreement announced Thursday between the U.S. Olympic Committee and the International is a small step in settling account ledgers and a giant leap in getting past the idea that this was more about settling accounts than reaching a reasonable solution.
The differences between the USOC and the IOC on financial issues had become so great and divisive over the past few years it seemed one side was from Mars, the other from Venus and both had chosen to emulate Ralph Kramden's threat when he got fed up with his wife, Alice, on the old ``Honeymooners'' sitcom:
"To the Moon, Alice."
The result of all the squabbling over games costs, the issue more easily taken out of play, and revenue sharing, which will remain much harder to solve, gave those of us who cover the Olympics some wonderfully vitriolic outbursts to report.
All that noise also gave Chicago's failed 2016 Summer Games bid a headache for which there was no medicine. While it was not the prime reason Chicago lost to Rio, which was destined to win, it gave the IOC voters an easy excuse to humiliate the United States by eliminating a good Chicago bid in the first round a year ago.
So where does it all stand now, and how did the parties get there?
The war of words ended with the departure of Hein Verbruggen from the IOC and Peter Ueberroth as chairman of the USOC.
It took nearly another year for the USOC to overcome its internecine feud, which began when board member Stephanie Streeter engineered the ouster of USOC chief executive Jim Scherr. When Streeter, haplessly unfamiliar with the peculiarities of Olympic administration, took Scherr's job on an acting basis, the USOC's constituents were so furious they tried to oust not only her but Peter Ueberroth's successor as chairman, Larry Probst, who had been looking at his post as a very part-time thing.
Streeter was forced out soon after the Chicago bid demise. Probst, both combative and chastened in reaction to the criticism, vowed to do the USOC work on a full-time basis and is keeping his word. The USOC board then showed uncommon good sense in hiring Scott Blackmun as CEO, knowing his past involvement with the USOC would make Blackmun's learning curve a flat line.