12 Aug 2012

Scoring gold medal tickets

Soccer, a popular sport around the world, generally doesn’t peak my interest.

But it was the Olympic Games. It’s Team USA and Canada with each team vying for a spot in the gold medal match.

The conclusion to this particular match, one of the few matches I’ve watched from start to finish, was unreal. Every time Canada scored, the U.S. came right back to even the contest. The same was true when the U.S. scored. Canada wouldn’t go away.

But it was the U.S. who triumphed 4-3 in extra time, forcing a re-match of last summer’s World Cup final with Japan for the gold medal in London.

The thought of buying tickets never crossed my mind. Everything is so expensive here.

As I departed Worcester for London, I pondered the possibility of getting tickets. Once I arrived at our London flat, I took out my laptop and began browsing the ads on Craigslist.

I came across one particular post, which read: “Four Tickets to Women’s Football Gold Medal Match; CAT A; First Row; Section 144.”

After pulling up the seating chart for Wembley Stadium, I realized these seats were right at midfield.

I replied to the listing and texted the number provided on the ad, “Are those football tix still available for gold medal match?”

Shortly thereafter, my phone lit up with a response, “So far, yes, but many people are calling.”

The asking price was 250 pounds per ticket. The first words out of my mouth were, “Holy cow. That’s outrageous.”

I got a call from, Remi Padoin, the scalper who posted the ad on Craigslist. I told him I was from the United States and wanted to see my country play in the gold medal match. I told him I’d get back to him shortly as I needed to round up three colleagues to go with me.

After asking around for nearly an hour, I was in luck. Alix Sappington, Jena Levy and Sara Schaefer agreed to go with me.

I rushed to my phone, punched in Padoin’s number and told him we’d buy them.

Having no idea who this man was, my stomach started churning. Scalping is illegal and I wanted to make sure we didn’t get caught.

Padoin told me to meet him at the Tottenham Court Road tube station at 7 p.m., roughly an hour from the time I spoke to him.

I hung up the phone and began recruiting volunteers to go with me to pick up the tickets. After another extensive search, Alix and Jena joined me, and we were off to the Farringdon tube station.

Upon arriving at the Tottenham station, I received another text from Padoin, “Hoping on the tube now. There in 15ish. Look for ridiculously long flag pole with Norway flag.”

As Alix, Jena and I made our way toward the exit and walked up the stairs, there was no sign of a long flagpole with a Norway flag.

We decided to go into Burger King for a final count of our money. It was all there.

We came out of Burger King and I couldn’t believe my eyes. A giant Norway flag was swaying through the air right across the street. Padoin was holding the flagpole, draped in a Norway flag while wearing a Norwegian Viking helmet with horns shooting out of both sides.

After being so nervous about making this transaction, I couldn’t help but laugh. It was an entertaining site to see.

The three of us approached Padoin. He greeted us with a smile, shook our hands and showed us the tickets.

He even asked me if I’d like to wear his Viking helmet. I couldn’t resist. All three of us posed for a picture with our newest friend.

Minutes later, I was holding four Olympic women’s football gold medal match tickets in my hand.

It was the strangest of occurrences, but it turned out to be one of the finest moments of this trip to the Olympic Games.

Tyler Poslosky  |   Sports Reporter

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08 Aug 2012

I got more exercise than expected while watching the women’s triathlon

For a second while I was watching the Olympic women’s triathlon, I thought I was in a race myself.

As my group of BSU at the Games members stood around Serpentine Lake, surrounded by thousands of people watching the triathletes furiously swim in front of us, some fans around us began to turn around. They started pushing through the massive crowd of people until they reached a clearing, and then it was a full-on sprint to the other side of Hyde Park.

Jonathan Batuello, one of our group members, was among those hurrying away from the lake even though the swimming portion wasn’t over. I hurried after him, but he ran so fast from the crowd I lost track of him.

At that point, it didn’t take long to figure out what everyone was running toward.

As the triathletes pulled themselves out of the water and onto their bikes, fans were racing over to the cycling track to get the best possible view of the next portion of the race.

It was funny to see how the rows of people next to the street worked itself out. Those who ran fast enough and knew they had to leave the swimming portion early earned the ultimate prize of getting great photos. Those of us who didn’t had to deal with photos that had heads and cameras in the way of the shot.

Our group learned from the first run through the park and made it over to the running track after the cycling was halfway finished. No running was necessary this time, and after a half hour of waiting, we were able to get a decent view of the triathletes sprinting by us.

For the first Olympic sport I’ve ever seen in-person, the women’s triathlon is memorable just for getting me out of a seat. That’s not something I’m used to as a football and basketball fan.

Still, the next time I sit down to comfortably watch a sport with a hot dog in one hand and a drink in the other, I know I won’t take it for granted.

Andrew Mishler  |  Sports Reporter

@andrewmishler

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06 Aug 2012

My Olympic moment: a long wait, the rings and … wow

As I walked out of Westfield Shopping Centre near the grounds of Olympic Park, I was awestruck by the view.

The biggest set of Olympic rings I’d ever seen were right in front of me, plastered on the northeast wall of the Aquatics Centre.

There were countless fences and security tents to get through before I reached the massive building, but the sheer size of it made it look close enough to touch.

Unfortunately, the whole scene was just a tease for two and a half hours because I was denied access with my guest pass.

The whole park was on lockdown, but when I was finally escorted through, all the frustration became worth the wait.

Every direction I looked, there were thousands upon thousands of people walking around the venues and fighting their way into shops. It was the never-ending madhouse that usually gets me annoyed and angry, but this time it was different. The row of stadiums made me feel like I was at the heart of Los Angeles, New York City and Chicago sports all at once.

It was then I had my first real moment of disbelief—these were the Olympic Games and I was actually there.

Connor Hockett  |  Sports Reporter

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06 Aug 2012

You don’t need tickets to watch the Games in good company

With no tickets to an Olympic event or even to the Olympic Park, I assumed that I would just be watching the Games from the comfort of my own flat. Well, you know what they say about those who assume… I was wrong.

Many parks in downtown London are projecting the Olympic events on multiple 20-foot screens, Hyde Park included. They are airing the same BBC channels that I could watch in my flat, but somehow being outside with a crowd full of spirited fans makes watching Olympic television that much better.

On a typical Tuesday afternoon in London, if any day during the Olympic Games could be considered typical, I ventured out in hopes to watch women’s gymnastics in the park. Seeing that I was accompanied by one of BSU at the Game’s videographers, who had brought along a large camera, I began to get nervous that we would not be allowed inside the gates.

We finally had reached the security officer at the bag check. A bottle of water was thrown away, a shopping bag searched, a laptop scanned and then there was the camera. The officer eyed it for a moment, causing Charlotte and I to hold our breath, and then placed it back into her bag, giving us the OK to enter.

After grabbing a cider and finding seats on the mulched lawn amongst the crowd, our hopes to watch women’s gymnastics were gratified. About half an hour had passed when a man walked on the stage with a microphone. Hyde Park has been hosting concerts every night since the Opening Ceremony and will continue until the Closing Ceremony on Aug. 12.

On Tuesday, Rebecca Ferguson, followed by Cover Drive, performed on the main stage. Rebecca, with a sound similar to Adele’s, won the crowd over with her soothing love tunes. Cover Drive sang more upbeat and energetic melodies. Not recognizing either performer, I was hesitant during their first few songs. I quickly learned to “never judge a band by their first song,” as Cover Drive has become one of my favorite groups.

It was the perfect evening under the stars—enjoying live music and watching the Olympic Games. What more could two girls have asked for?

Needless to say, if you need to find Charlotte and me in the early night, chances are we will be having another perfect evening in Hyde Park.

Samantha Ashworth | Public Relations

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04 Aug 2012

25 minutes for 5 quid—money well spent

After a confusing and frustrating run-around by the Olympic staff, I was finally about to see a field-hockey game in one of the arenas.

I wasn’t sure what I was going to do today when I woke up. I knew a couple of the other reporters wanted to go to the Olympic Park to check out the media press center and wander around to find stories. I couldn’t wait to walk around though, so I broke off from the group to find my own adventure.

This is how I ended up at the recycle ticket sales booth. I saw a line and someone saying that the second session of field hockey was going to be easy to get into for people who didn’t have tickets. For me it was the only way I was going to get tickets, since I was not a U.K. citizen.

For this opportunity I paid a hefty price. It was an hour-and-a-half wait in the line to get to the end. By the time I paid my 5 quid, it was already 4:45 p.m. and I had only eaten a muffin all day. But I had my ticket.

I then sprinted to Riverbank Arena to catch the end of the match. Luckily I got there for the last 25 minutes of it. It was a good amount of time for the money I spent, the teams that were in the match (Germany and South Africa) and just the atmosphere of an arena in Olympic Park.

The 25 minutes I saw was enough to experience what everyone else probably was feeling that whole time. Even though Germany was already winning, there were close shots that looked promising for South Africa to come back, and even shots where Germany could have further divided the final score. People were still on the edge of their seats.

Putting aside the frustration and the long wait, I participated in a crowd wave that made it around the arena twice. It was an awesome day.

Michael Kerkhoff  |  Sports Reporter

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03 Aug 2012

Patriotism in England

Traveling throughout England the past two weeks has made me feel alienated and welcomed at the same time. People go out of their way to help you if you ask, but I still feel I’m a tourist, never able to fully fit into the culture. I’ve chatted with locals about linguistic differences and the cuisines native to Britain. Finally I took in their sport.

I journeyed to Manchester with a group of three other guys to attend the USA vs. North Korea women’s football match. As the day progressed from London to Manchester, I began to feel more and more at home, beginning with an American couple waiting for the train with us.

They asked if we were joining them on the journey to the match, which we obviously were, decked out in full USA gear. They told us this is the only event they had tickets to before coming to England, yet they have managed to get tickets to several events since arriving. They taught me the valuable lesson of interacting with locals more than just passing glances. Many Londoners have extra tickets they are willing to give away to waiting foreigners, but without any contact you have no chance at nabbing admission.

The travel to Manchester was uneventful on the train, with half the group passing out after a long night. Arriving in Manchester brought more frenzied crowds of Americans completing the same pilgrimage as us. While waiting for the Metrolink (the city’s local street-car rail service) a pair of Brits approached us and told us not to buy tickets for the ride. They saved us a few pounds by telling us our game tickets are valid transport tickets also.

Not only did they help us save money, one of them wore an Alex Morgan jersey in support of USA Soccer. The American Invasion was almost complete. The jersey-wearer spoke of her excitement to finally see one of the world’s elite women’s football teams. Only Great Britain as an opponent would have stopped her from rooting for the USA women.

Arriving in the stadium is an experience, with nearly century-old entry gates adding to the history of the venue. Experiencing this with an American dominated crowd felt like an afternoon at Wrigley Field. Four out of five fans spoke with American accents. Never did I think I would hear more voices from home in England. For two glorious hours of football, it sounded and felt like a home match.

The greatest moment of the match was the National Anthem. In my career working baseball with the Fort Wayne TinCaps I have heard a couple hundred live renditions of our anthem. Never had I sung along or felt the impact of the words until hearing “The Star Spangled Banner” play gloriously in Old Trafford. I had chills up and down my body, and I proudly sung every word. Chants of U-S-A throughout the match and the wave circling the stadium completed the picture perfect American sporting event.

Returning home finished out my American day, when we sat next to four people who follow @BSUattheGames on twitter, and most of whom live in Indianapolis. The group shared stories with us about their adventures in London, while we shared our fun, including having a local offer us free tickets while eating lunch (again it’s all about interaction and being in the right place at the somewhat right time). They made the entire experience of doing journalism around the games worthwhile, by telling us they follow our posts closely, checking up on our latest tweets.

I don’t know what adventures await me, but wherever I go I will make sure I say hello or strike up conversations with sports fans of all nationalities.

Alex Kartman  |  Adviser

@ajkartman

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19 Jun 2012

For greenspace—and green ideas—don’t miss the Olympic Park

Heading to the 2012 summer Olympics? Wondering what to do?

With all of the chaos and excitement going on, there is something for everyone, from shops and restaurants to leisure activities. Check it out.

The Olympic Village is in the Olympic Park located in Stratford, East London. This park is not only about grab-and-go stands filled with food and souvenirs, but also much, much more. Providing a green background for the Games, the park is where all of the activity goes on outside of the stadium.

What’s in the park? Along the riverside, there is a northern and southern part to the park. The northern part–the “festival area”–has:

  • Developed industrial land, created just for the Games
  • Riverside gardens
  • Markets
  • Special events
  • Cafes and bars

The southern part (it may be safe to call it the more relaxing and less chaotic area) has:

  • Quiet space
  • Green ways to manage flood and rain water
  • Designated space for rare species to live…such as otters and kingfishers!

This park is no joke. There are 250 acres of new land developed by the Olympic Delivery Authority. They planted 4,000 semi-mature trees over 300,000 wetland plants, more than 10 (10!) football fields-worth of annual and perennial meadows. The development was so in-depth that they just finished planting everything as of November 2011!

The Riverside London 2012 Garden is half a mile long, located between the Aquatics Centre and Olympic Stadium. It boasts 120,000 plants, including 250 different species from all over the world.

The park is so developed and “futuristic” that even the trees were carefully selected. These trees are said to be able to withstand years and year of climate change and unexpected weather patterns. To make it even cooler, they are mostly all native species of London.

Finally, the art in the Olympic Park is something that could take an entire day to experience. For more information on how to see it, check out Olympic Park Art.

It is said that wherever one is in the Olympic village, the park will provide a scenic view with access to a path that opens up a whole other world of activities and memories to be made.

Sara Schaefer  |  Features Reporter
@Sara__Schaefer

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13 Jun 2012

So I’m totally an athlete too—if athletes are uncoordinated and weak

I don’t really like sports, but I love sports movies. “Hoosiers,” “Breaking Away,” “Rudy,” “The Blind Side.” I even liked that Brad Pitt baseball movie with all the math.

Movies give you the dramatic climax of the sports experience, “the thrill of victory and the agony of defeat,” and very little of the tiresome monotony of practice—unless, of course, it’s in some brief, musically scored montage. Sports movies are for people too impatient to commit to actual sports, people like me who never quite mastered the cartwheel in pre-school tumbling, only lasted one season on the grade-school basketball team, regularly convinced her dad to write her notes to get out of gym class.

It should be no surprise, then, that I love the Olympic Games. They offer three weeks of sports cinema, all those years of numbingly repetitious practice and toil telescoped into a few sentimental minutes of narration by Bob Costas so we can dwell on the crossing of the finish line and the tears on the medal stand. The Games, like a great sports movie, offer us a metaphor for all human endeavor, made more poignant because most of the athletes aren’t superhuman celebrities but ordinary people who committed beyond all common sense to a dream.

I have a dream too. This winter I sat in a chair every single day for six months and wrote a first draft of a book. It was boring and it often sucked and I would rather have been doing almost anything else—although when I did do something else I couldn’t stop thinking about what I would write next. And then I finished. And though nobody called me from ESPN and nobody handed me a gold medal and I remained painfully conscious of all the ways I could have done it better, I had done it. I had beaten my own record, clocked my best personal time, jumped an inch farther than I had jumped before.

It’s cheesy but it feels true. It’s the reason so many people love the Games, even people like me who hated gym.

If they can do it, maybe we can do it. Whatever it is.

Colleen Steffen  |  Features Editor

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