Wednesday, June 16, 2010

The night the lights went out in....Joberg?

Greetings all,

Today is probably the first time I'm actually blogging in a timely manner. We had nothing on the agenda today after 9:30 seminar. Dr. Covell and I were unsuccessful in accessing the gym once again. South African's don't work out in the winter so its generally closed for all but 15 minutes of each day.

Yesterday was a great day. We had our usual morning seminar thing then we went in for a meeting with the sport management faculty and students of Tswane University where we are staying. We were greeted by a spirited young gentleman named Augustus with his accomplice Agatha. They were fourth year sport man students similar to Mr. Jones and myself. They came right to our door and took us down to meet the faculty. Unfortuantely, our own faculty got a little lost and we spent a half an hour waiting for our professors to rejoin the group. But thats neither here nor there.

We had our informal meeting in the Field Hockey Bar/Clubhouse/Premium seating area. There huge into field hockey here. It's a bigger men's sport here than a women's sport which is of course the inverse of the way it is in the United States. Dr. Covell, Spencer, Ally, and myself were able to take in some of the Women's game on campus a few days back (may or may not have dropped that earlier). It's an exciting game and I'm all kinds of excited for WNEC 2010 Ladies Field Hockey to take the pitch in the fall. But I digress. The faculty for the Sport Man department had some opening remarks and took our questions. Then both our professors and delegate Jones spoke about our program back in the States.

It was really interesting to see how they do things over here. Their course load is almost entirely in their major after freshman year. About 80% of their course work is in their major. So while I take meteorology and geology instead of picking up an extra marketing class or two, they are working almost exclusively where they focus their energy. This gives them a chance to take a class in sport sponsorship, sport licensing, sport finance, etc. These ideas are covered in one Sport Marketing class at WNEC (and probably in most programs in the US) and reinforced by general business classes like accounting and finance. They also appear to have a more hands on approach. One thing that didn't differ was the competitive market for jobs in sport. These students shared the same concerns that most of our sport man seniors have about being unemployed after graduation and having to fight tooth and nail for employment.

It was a great experience to talk with people of our own age and social situation. After the lecture portion, we had lunch and were able to swap stories with the students and faculty. There were some characters in the bunch including Augustus whom I mentioned earlier. He claims to love American music ranging and film. Denzel was his favorite.

After a brief break it was time to jump on the bus again. We traveled to Joberg which is about 45 minutes from Pretoria and stopped in a plaza to eat. This week we've been eating mostly McDonalds and KFC style fast food which for me is extremely uncharacteristic. It was nice to find a place called Su-Chi in this plaza. As the name suggests, the eatery features Sushi and Chinese food. This was proof for my money that Chinese food is good pretty much anywhere if you order the chicken. We then went to a local bar/cafe hybrid to watch the Portugal Ivory Coast match and to grab milkshakes and hot chocolate because it's fun to be 12 years old sometimes.

The weather was pretty cold. Think Foxboro in November or December. Curt told me this morning that it was 33 Degrees at game time. We brought blankets and once again used our ID tags to get through FIFA security to allow our bus to drop us off right by the stadium. It really is just baby town frolics with their security. But it gets better. We walk the block to the game and get to the gates which aren't letting anyone through. Some security gaurds abandoned their posts and people just started to walk into the stadium. SWEEET! By the time we got to the front we had to at least show a ticket to walk through but we could have easily smuggled in a slew of weapons if we were into that sort of thing. It was one of those moments I was glad I still have that invincible 21 year old college student feeling.

Facility update on Ellis Park for Dr. Walker: Once we got through the initial gate there was another round of gates to go through with your ticket. No check was present but you had to put your ticket into a machine to make sure it was the real deal. One problem. The generators in charge of power for the gates on our side of the stadium was on and off every 10 seconds. So we could see the power on one side of the stadium shutting off each time you turned your head. AWESOME! We walked to the other side and got in no problem. Once we were in our seats the power continued to shut on and off throughout the whole stadium. The video boards were turned on once the power was stable. Bad idea. Power went out again and the stadium eventually stabalized allowing one tiny video board and all the lights in the stadium to stay on.

The hyjynx ensues at our seats where vendors walked through our rows pedeling their ice cream (at 33 degrees). They sold a man wearing his jacked upside down (hood down at ass level) two beers which he spilled on Dan Gould and Mike Jones. People smoked throughout the stadium in front of security and we had a full band in front of us. They brought in drums, cymbals, saxaphones, and I believe I saw a tamborine or two. Then when they played the whole game and wouldn't sit down they sent over their unarmed "security force" who were really tremendous. They were agressive kinda France's defense of Paris in World War II. The leader of the group refused to sit down and it looked like it would end in fistacuffs but they compromised. The leader said he would sit down until security left and then stand back up. Everyone wins! They sat down for the real cops but once they left there was the same result. So security wasn't the best but against all odds no one was hurt.

As for the game, Brazil essentially ran train on Korea. It was kinda like watching a Division 3 baseball team play a Division 1 program. Korea would have needed absolutely everything to break their way to get a win. The brazilians were huge, fast, physical, and had finesse. They also all had one name which is pretty cool. We didn't get the 5 goals we wanted to see but the performance was dominant. Out of desire to beat the traffic and the opressive cold, an executive decision was made to leave the game in the 86th minute. Some Korean guy scored in the 89th according the radio man. I still think we got the better end of the deal getting out of there quick.

I'd like to end up the blog with a shout out to the WNEC dance team. During half time, the hooray for everything dancers came out and tried to do Shakira's Waka Waka, the theme song of this year's world cup. They were awful. Like Ben Affleck in Reindeer Games bad. If our team tried out the organizing committee would have had no choice but to select them and pay for their trip over here. Cheers Ladies.

I have to finish up some things now but I'll be sure to blog about the final day and the plane rides as well as a reflection after we get back to the states.

Keep on Keepin' on

1 comment:

  1. Hey Tim....Thanks for the Ellis Park analysis. Just so you guys know, there is a developing buzz with industry folks about the "lax" security at the games. The criticism seems to center around lack of training, poor infrastructure (your comments on the power speak directly to that I think), and the infamous "general staffing problems." Sounds like your international good will meeting with the faculty and students of TUT was very productive. Can't wait to hear the details. Safe travels...see you soon.

    Dr. Walker