About BTiell Sports Reports

Dr. Bonnie Tiell writes a monthly column for the Tiffin Advertiser Tribune Sports Department (http://www.advertiser-tribune.com/). This blog archives each column and dates back to the 2008 Olympic Academic Experience in Beijing, China. Check out the Blog Archives to read more. Check out info about the TU Olympic Academic Experience at http://www.tuolympics.blogspot.com/ and contact Dr. Tiell at btiell@tiffin.edu

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Aug 10, 2008 Despite setbacks, Olympic fever hits TU group

Reports from frustrated spectators are that Olympic venues are only partially full, tickets still are hard to find, and if you happen to be lucky enough for a transaction to go through, the process of picking up the tickets is difficult. When the TU Olympic Academic group arrived to the tiny will-call office, a volunteer was handing out information sheets directing patrons to visit an Internet caf down several blocks to print out their order.

It didn't matter if someone with a BlackBerry showed the confirmation e-mail to the delivery person, because restrictions were that patrons had to produce a piece of paper with their transaction number and name. In several instances, the patron's credit card was charged but an e-mail confirmation never came through. Armed with a bank statement showing the transaction, would-be Olympic spectators still were denied without the e-mail confirmation.

These setbacks happened to our group, which certainly was a bit frustrating given that our driver took more than three hours to find the building. We met an Australian family with similar frustrations over the process system. Unfortunately, earlier in the day a cabbie sped off with their laptop while pretending to write a receipt for their ride. Emerging from the will call office an hour after first entering, the Aussie who had lost his precious laptop exited with a huge smile on his face and his precious Olympic tickets in hand. He didn't care nearly as much about a piece of equipment compared to what it would have meant to travel this far and not be able to see his son compete as an Olympic rower.

Stabbing, burglary, rain, smog, restrictions, ticket problems. We still wouldn't trade this experience for the world.

So far, members of our group have been to gymnastics, field hockey, basketball and cycling and the next few days are packed with games all over the place. I'm not even sure of how a lot of our students are finding their way to pick up tickets at various locations around Beijing. Besides the Cosport Will Call Booth (which frustrates the heck out of a person), many people are conducting exchanges at hotel locations. Every night it is a scramble to find available tickets via the Internet, then a challenge to find the site to pick up the ticket, and then to get to the event on time given how huge the city is. Many students are leaving at the crack of dawn on their personal ticket adventure.

My throat hurts from the smog we ingest daily, and my appetite is small because of the heat and humidity. McDonald's has been the food choice for most of the students each day. I usually down bottle after bottle of water and green tea, then hit a Chinese bakery.

We have been disappointed again because the United States Olympic Committee has backed up our official Olympic Village tour to the day we depart and can't even guarantee it will take place. The first priority is the athletes, and with the events of the stabbing death of an American volleyball coach's relative, the Village has been swarmed with more important visitors.

On a positive note, our visit to the Princeton reception on the Yin Roof Top Bar at the Emperor Hotel was amazing. First, our wonderful driver was beside himself to make us walk a few blocks to the hotel because of restricted access. Seems he stumbled dead on part of the road cycling course that all our Chinese hosts recommended not trying to get close to because of restrictions. Yes, there was plenty of room to watch, and yes, we did see road cycling -completely by accident.

Six graduate students, the two professors and the Calvert freshman (Kimmy) mingled among the Princeton alumni crowd, which included several Olympians who gave welcome addresses and freely conversed with the 50-60 people who gathered in downtown Beijing for the event. The rooftop view of the Forbidden City which was incredible, even with the smog offering only hazy images.

I took a photo of some of the graduate students with Collette Burk who works with marketing for the International Olympic Committee. She works out of the Atlanta hub with a team of 12, but regularly interacts with clients and national Olympic committees around the world. When asked about hers or the IOC's reaction to the violent attack the previous day, our IOC friend deferred to the USOC. When pressed a bit harder about the IOC's position on other aspects of the games such as sold-out tickets and half-empty venues, the conversation was over.

It was an interesting experience for the graduate students who truly are learning about the organizational aspects of hosting the Olympic Games. All the students have strong sports management backgrounds and often have engaged in conversations about sports politics, economics, commercialization and other scholarly topics. Dr. Mackey and I were proud of how professional and engaging our graduate students were while they networked with each other and with the diverse Princeton graduates.

These students represented Tiffin University quite well. Upon completing the course requirements, all the students will receive a grade from the cool summer class they took through Tiffin University. Here in Beijing, they are officially TU students.

Stay tuned, there are bound to be more adventures at this huge two-week international sports party in Beijing.

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