Posted July 26, 2012
While 99.9 percent or more of Southeast Idaho residents will be able to enjoy the 2012 Olympic Games on their television sets, computers and smart phones, a group of Idaho State University students will be heading to London to watch the XXX Olympiad in person – and they’ll be earning credits.
"I am so excited about going I don't even know where to start," said Rene Barraza, 22, a senior sport management major from Pocatello. "The whole week is going to be super cool. I've always wanted to go to England, but with the Olympics and the whole world there it should be even more awesome."
Barraza is one of six ISU students who are taking a three-credit independent study course organized by Associate Professor Karen Appleby and Associate Professor Caroline Faure in the Department of Sports Science and Physical Education in the ISU College of Education, and Paula Mandeville, College of Education advising director. Participants leave Sunday, July 29, and return Aug. 8.
"This experience will be very pertinent to our sport management and athletic administration students academically," Appleby said. "The students have all been required to do pre-travel papers on the Olympic games. They've done a series of papers on sport marketing, event management, facility management, risk management, the legal aspects of sports and how it all relates to the Olympic games."
The students are required to keep a daily journal during the games and upon returning will write a final paper and give presentations to various groups about their experiences.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime experience for us as well as for the students," Appleby said. "Students in the field of sport management generally just don't get to go to an event like this. It is going to be a capstone experience for these students, and an international trip like this won't look bad on their resumes."
Collectively, the group is hitting a wide assortment of events including the cycling time trial, the men's and women's triathlon, the women's marathon, women's volleyball, women's beach volleyball, team handball, weightlifting, boxing, wrestling, swimming, track and field, basketball and soccer.
"Just watching the events being run and everything that goes into it will be an education," Barraza said. "It's all on such a big scale, like going to a (Utah) Jazz game, but with 50 Jazz games going on in one city at the same time. It will also be interesting to see how international companies market to an international audience, because I've only seen how companies advertise to Americans."
The students, who did some fundraisers, are paying for their own transportation, lodging, venue tickets and expenses. Assisted by class's organizers, the students will be staying in dormitories at the University of Westminster in London. The professors will be in a nearby hotel.
"We've been planning this for over year," Appleby said. "Along with all the Olympics events, and possible tours of venues, we've also coordinated a group of cultural events around London, going to museums and seeing some of its iconic sights. It's taken a lot of planning."
"It will be exciting to be in that type of environment, especially coming from a sports background," said Britnie Jones, ISU athletic administration graduate student. "It's the greatest mega-event in the world and it will be interesting to see how sports management operates on such a large scale. Even just looking at the facilities built for the Games will be fascinating. And of course I'm looking forward to traveling around London with some fellow ISU students."
Students expressed their gratitude to the planning it took to get this class together.
"I just want to thank Drs. Appleby, Faure, the dean and others who did a lot of work to get this trip organized," said Christina Beseris, an ISU graduate student in athletic administration who is heading on the trip. "I'm just excited about the whole experience, going overseas to go to the Summer Olympics. I saw some of the Winter Olympics that were held in Salt Lake City, so it will be fun to see them both."
The other ISU undergraduate students, all seniors, heading to London include Scott Thomasy, physical education; Dana Thomasy, biology; and Carl Kuznicki, physical education. The group will include Chris Mandeville, a sports management undergraduate from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs who is from Pocatello.