Posts tagged "soccer"

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

BSU at the Games at the gold medal women’s soccer match

A big group from the BSU at the Games team abandoned being journalists for a night in favor of being spectators. They headed to Wembley Stadium, decked out in patriotic gear, to cheer on the women’s soccer team as they competed for a gold medal against Japan. It was a World Cup rematch, and everyone was excited to see Team USA bring home the Olympic gold.

How do you get a coffee date with a sports-writing legend? You ask

Wednesday morning, on the eve of the women’s soccer final between the U.S. and Japan, I had an opportunity to have coffee in a London Starbucks with Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl.

How did I manage this? The power of Twitter.

I sent a tweet last week saying how cool it would be to get to meet some professional journalists currently in England doing Olympic coverage and included his Twitter handle in it. Less than an hour later, he replied back saying he was getting into London on Aug. 7 and would be happy to meet for coffee. When the alert came on my phone, I had to read it over several times to make certain my phone wasn’t playing a trick on me.

It wasn’t. And after a few tweets back and forth, we had arranged to meet Wednesday morning in Russell Square.

For those who don’t know who Wahl is, I suggest you look him up. He’s perhaps one of the most established senior writers at Sports Illustrated. He’s been a senior soccer writer for SI since 2000 and covers World Cups, the Euro Championships and the Olympic Games. His biography on SI.com says he’s written 31 cover stories for the magazine. And he has more than 230,000 followers on Twitter. Getting the chance to meet and talk sports journalism with him is something I couldn’t pass up.

After getting our coffees, Wahl and I sat at one of the tables and he asked me a few questions about myself. I explained to him what BSU at the Games is and what we’re doing, and he was impressed with what we’ve been able to produce despite not having credentials to events. I also got to tell Wahl what I do for the Ball State Daily News and other events I’ve covered in my short career.

But I was more interested in learning about how he got to SI. He said after his internship at The Miami Herald, he received an offer from SI to be a fact-checker. Having just graduated from college, he said it was too good an offer not to accept. After doing some writing on college basketball and soccer on the side, ESPN offered him a position to be a full-time soccer writer. SI matched the offer, and he’s held the position since then.

The best piece of advice he gave me for trying to land a job after I leave Ball State is to have something on a résumé that makes you stand out. He laughed and said my experience for BSU at the Games will be the thing that makes me stand out on mine.

We talked more on how sports is becoming a big player in social media, especially on Twitter, and his experiences covering some of the major soccer events in the world. The biggest thing he is working on at SI is making sure he is being as efficient as possible because of the costs to send him around the world.

We wrapped up our conversation after about an hour, as he had to get in touch with his bosses and prepare for the women’s soccer final. I left the Starbucks inspired to work my way to Wahl’s level. Being able to cover soccer matches around the world, on its biggest stages, would definitely be a dream job.

Having more than 230,000 followers on Twitter would be pretty cool too.

Mat Mikesell | Sports Reporter

@MatMikesell

Chasm between sports cultures

Sports culture differs vastly depending on the sport, team or region, but watching abroad seems like a paradigm shift. Fanaticism in America amounts to Red Sox and Yankees fans hating each other, painting faces, decorating rooms for college football game days and tailgating in parking lots. The media and venues drive much of the fanaticism in the United States, with ESPN constantly reporting on the Miami Heat and stadiums’ P.A. systems encouraging the crowds to collectively chant specific phrases.

I’ve noticed things are radically different in England. Attending the USA women’s soccer match at Old Trafford in Manchester drastically changed my outlook on British sports. The venue offered nostalgia for old stadiums like Wrigley Field and Fenway. Temporary video boards light up the corners of the stadium for spectators to watch the game unfold. As soon as the match started I realized I wasn’t in Kansas anymore.

The only P.A. announcements after the national anthems were for the four substitutions in the match. Not a single promotion. Not a single pump-up chant. No music. No organist. No fun.

The communal atmosphere of collective cheers and chants disappeared, in their place sporadic and short USA chants. The British arena didn’t accommodate the American crowd.

When English Premier League’s Manchester United plays, Old Trafford is a different atmosphere, with constant chants and songs from the crowd. Football requires some form of audience entertainment during slow periods of play. The American crowd hadn’t been together years and years to learn team songs or chants. As a member of the crowd, I wanted an organist, similar to baseball games, to play “Charge,” “Defense” or even “Olé Olé” to build a better atmosphere in the crowd.

A silent baseball game best describes the atmosphere. Every fan remained seated except when a team attacked the net. Most of the crowd noise consisted of murmurs from conversation.

Maybe if the venue allowed alcohol into the stands the atmosphere would have changed the feeling. Alcohol is only permitted on the concourse. There are no beer-men or carts around the stadium. What fan wants to go drink hidden from the action during a match? This caused a mass exodus during halftime of the crowd disappearing into the bowels of the stadium for a drink or two.

The game was fun, don’t get me wrong, but the chasm between crowd and players widened more than I have ever witnessed as a sports fan. Without audience participation, the match wasn’t worth the extorted prices LOCOG and the IOC charge. I love England’s culture and atmosphere, but the presentation of sport is deeply disappointing for a nation so rich in sports heritage. Or I should be sure to come back when United plays.

Alex Kartman  |  Adviser

@ajkartman

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

What happens when reverie becomes reality?

Here’s the deal—I wouldn’t consider myself a world traveler. My mind does drift abroad on a regular basis, but that doesn’t require luggage and travel arrangements.

What I’m getting at is that reverie, my friends, can be a wonderful instigator of travel. It always wins. So, I did what any avid daydreamer would do and signed up for my first trip to Budapest, Hungary.

I’d be lying if I said I had any idea where Budapest was when I signed up. It wasn’t until after the initial meeting I finally decided to Google the place. Call it impulse or whatever you want, but it really didn’t matter where I was going, what mattered was that I was going. It was the thrill of a new adventure—and that feeling took over.

A few months later, I packed my things, boarded a plane and jetsetted across the Atlantic with five strangers. Aside from a few roadblocks (namely, food poisoning and ringworm) the trip was phenomenal and fueled my inner traveler more than daydreaming ever could.

A lot changed for me during the trip. I suddenly felt undereducated. You can only learn so much without experiencing something first hand. All of the sudden I was consumed by the depths of a culture outside my own. I was thrown into a part of the world so different than mine. It was scary, yet inspiring. It was my ignorance of foreign land that ignited something in me: I should always yearn for international perspective, if for nothing else than personal enlightenment.

That’s why when Ryan Sparrow first talked to me about joining the group going to London for the 2012 Summer Olympics, I couldn’t say no. (I would be CRAZY to say no!) It didn’t take much to convince me. Actually, 10 minutes after he brought it up, I called my parents. Their response: “You’d be crazy not to go.” I think you know how the rest of the chapter goes.

So now I sit here, awaiting the next chapter of my journey. We have a few more weeks to go until we leave for London, and I can hardly contain my excitement. Not only does this trip mean I get to visit Europe again, it means I get to attend a gathering of the world’s finest athletes. It’s surreal.

My expectations, you ask?

The truth is, I don’t have any plans or expectations. Plans will find me and my expectations will be met.

I am excited to travel with a group of talented and extraordinary students. I am excited to immerse myself in yet another European culture. But most importantly, I am excited to see the world come together for no other reason than a soccer game, a triathlon or badminton match.

The way I see it, there is really only one question to ask: Are we there yet?

Jena Levy | Public Relations

@jenalevy

Heard any good songs lately?

Starting these things is always the hardest part, so I decided this would be the easiest way to do it.  I am very excited to be traveling to London for the Olympics!  To prepare this summer, I have been working with media on freelance work for our reporters and photo people, as well as bragging to my friends. One thing I am really nervous about though is flying. I am not what you would call a comfortable flyer and am typically on edge the whole flight.  Considering this will be an eight-hour flight, I’m sure you can understand the anxiety. That still won’t stop me from going though!

While we are over there I think it would be awesome to see a Team USA basketball game or a soccer (or football, depending who is reading this) game. Those two also will be some of the most expensive tickets, along with swimming and gymnastics. Really, when I think about it though, I would be interested in going to any event. All of these athletes are the best in the world and I’m sure they are able to entertain.

Another thing I’m nervous about is what American songs I will be able to sing around London. Most other countries have traditional pub, sports or just leisure songs that everyone from the country knows. I have been thinking about it and I can’t think of any old-time traditional songs that I will be able to pull out, besides “American Pie.” This is something that I am really not very nervous about but yet VERY nervous about at the same time … Weird feeling.

My overall feeling about the trip though would be described as bubbling excitement.  I have never been to Europe, never been to the Olympic Games and never had the opportunity to do the work I am doing with this trip. It is the trifecta.

Jordan Dimit  |  Public Relations Team
@sirjordandimit

U.K. sports: dreary or daring?

I grew up in a family centered around athletics. My dad is a coach, my mom was an athletic trainer, and my brothers and I combined probably played every popular sport in the U.S. As I prepare for my trip to England this summer, centered around the biggest sporting event in the world, I’m becoming intrigued about the sports culture in the U.K. On one hand, ravenous European sports fans can be as intense as a Raiders fan during a playoff game. On the other hand, sports from across the pond do have a reputation to be rather … dreary. Is the difference between U.S. and U.K. sports so different?

Rugby
Rugby is the grandfather of football, American football that is. Basically, it’s football on steroids. There are fifteen players, and literally everybody on the field, or pitch, is in danger of taking a blow. Backs, essentially the scorers of rugby, can kick, throw and run the ball to score just like a football quarterback would. However, you are not allowed to throw the ball forward. Forwards are the linemen and they do all the tackling. There are also these weird team huddle groups called scrams, and they’re used like a face-off in hockey.

Honestly, I’m really intrigued by rugby. It’s is all about brute force and quick feet. It’s minimal protection and massive muscle. The average weight of a professional rugby player is 238 pounds. Bloody hell. What more could a female sports fan ask for?

Cricket
No matter how much I read up on cricket, I don’t think I’ll ever be able to understand the game. It’s sort of like baseball, in that there is a bat, a ball and to score you need to make runs. There are some fun twists that include wickets and bails. There are three wickets, or posts, that stand behind the batter. On top of the wickets are two pieces of wood called bails. If a batter knocks off the bails, then they’re out. There are only two “bases” that the batters run between. The positions are essentially the same: pitcher, batter, fielders.

It’s baseball mixed with Jenga. Did I also mention that cricket uniforms make the players look like they’re going out for tea afterwards?

Polo
Interestingly enough, Polo originated in India. It is legitimately the fastest sport in the world. The U.S. doesn’t really have a sport to compare to polo. We do have a men’s cologne named after it though.

Players on horses race full -peed towards a tiny ball, swinging giant mallets. What could possibly go wrong? Maybe not so ironically, a study in the British Journal of Sports Medicine found that 64 percent of polo injuries were considered major, the most common of which were fractures and facial lacerations. So if you like demolition derby mixed with croquet and horse racing, polo is the sport for you.

Tennis, soccer (football), boxing, golf
Tennis, soccer, boxing and golf are other sports that are really popular in the United Kingdom. Soccer is an especially beloved pastime. Don’t call it soccer though, unless you want everyone to know that you are an uncultured American.
Some other sports words that you should know are: pitch (field), boots (cleats), kit (uniform), footie (game/match), etc., etc.

Even though cricket and polo are the only sports on this list that aren’t an official sport of the summer Olympic Games, I’m still excited to see all of these games and athletes in action.

Jessica Pettengill  |  Features Reporter 

@jmpetty10