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Day 7 – Olympia

By Gabriela Paczko Bozko Cecchini & Nasra Hirsi


Hello everyone!

We started the day very early, as usual, so that we could have a good breakfast at the hotel in Athens and then take the bus to go to Olympia. The bus ride was about four hours, a fact that was very useful, because we could catch up on our sleep. We arrived at Olympia at around noon, and then had a quick lunch. The village was very charming, with many restaurants and souvenir shops. Most of us had a gyro, the famous Greek street food.

After lunch, we took the bus to the International Olympic Academy, which is the World Center for the Olympic Education. The institution, created in 1961 in a joint effort from the Hellenic Olympic Committee and the International Olympic Committee, is the true heart of the Olympic Movement, as it unites both its components of Philosophy and Education. Once there, we could walk for a little bit in the facilities of the IOA, which comprise multiple rooms to accommodate the students, a restaurant, conference rooms and multiple classrooms. We were very impressed with the size of the institution and the beautiful disposition of the buildings, in a semicircular fashion.

We then walked to the Archive of the 2004 Olympic Games, which is the only archive for an edition of the Olympic Games that exists in the world. There,  our guide George, showed us a video that detailed the story of the organization and its aims. In the video, we learned more about the conception of IOA by Pierre de Coubertin, the father of the Modern Olympic Games, who wanted to create an institution to support and encourage the development of the Olympic values around the world. Further, we could get more details about the current projects being held at IOA, like the Young Participants and the Masters Programme in Olympic Studies.

After the video, looked at the Archive for the 2004 Olympic Games. It had both a vastness of documents and publications about the event, and many original artifacts from it: posters, clothes worn by the volunteers, and even the Olympic medals! It was extremely special to be in that place and to be able to see objects from one edition of the biggest sports celebration of the world.

In the afternoon, we went to Olympia, the place where the Ancient Olympic Games were held. Having the opportunity to go to Olympia was an amazing experience. Olympia is as beautiful as we expected it to be and the people who reside there are really kind. During the tour of the archeological site and the museum it felt like we were transported back in time to the first Olympic games. The tour allowed us to get an in-depth idea into the rich history of Olympia and the games that occurred there. We were able to learn about the importance of sports during Olympia, and even how they were able to stop wars, due to a treaty created back then that prohibited all types of wars during the Olympic games.

During the tour, we were able to get a better grasp on how sports shaped ancient Greece and its people. We learned that the Olympic games were religious and sacred, played to honor Zeus. Only non-slave men who were from Greece could participate in them. Because of that, at the time, women decided to create their own games, where they honored the goddess Hera. A second interesting fact about the ancient Greeks was the belief that training your body allowed a person to have self-control and was the only way a person could achieve physical perfection. Finally, we also learned that the Olympic Games were created in a moment when Greece was not an united country, but several city-states, so the Games served to unite all Greeks and make them realize that they were stronger together.

After the tour, we took the bus and drove to Tripoli, a small city where we are going to spend the night. It was definitely an unforgettable day, in which we were able to engage in a deeper level with the Olympic movement, both in its roots, when we visited Olympia, and in its current actions, in the OIA. We are very grateful for having had the opportunity to visit these places and to learn in locoabout the importance of sports for humankind, from the ancient Olympic Games to nowadays.

Day 6 – Greece

By Patrick Butler & Tad Bogielski


Our first full day in Athens, Greece started off with some very informational lectures. The first lecture was from Mike Argyris. Mike was the Race Director of the very first Ironman Greece. This specific Ironman took place in Peloponnese and was a ½ Ironman or an Ironman 70.3. Peloponnese is a peninsula located in southern Greece. The Ironman Greece is a ½ Triathlon which consists of a 2km swim in the ocean, a 90km bike ride, and a ½ marathon all together. Last year was the very first Ironman Greece and in that first year of the race there were 1500 participants from 62 different countries. With such a high volume of participants the race required 1000 people working, 650 were volunteers and 350 were paid workers. In total the Ironman Greece was 700,000 Euros to put on, or about $800,000. On top of the background knowledge, we were learned about the importance of a brand association. Many people around the world understand the amazing feat it is to complete an Ironman or a ½ Ironman. Thus the association of companies with the Ironman Brand have improved their value, and their perception to the public. Brand association is something that can be extremely influential to a company’s success.

The 2nd lecture was from Tota Golfinopoulou and Eleftheria Petrides who work as event managers for the Athens Marathon. Our lecture covered a lot of the great history that is associated with the Athens Marathon. It is called “The Authentic” because Athens is the birthplace of the very first Marathon. In ancient times Grigoris Lobrakis ran from the city Marathon to Athens to inform the Athenians they had won the Persian War. The Authentic Marathon starts in Marathon and ends at the Panathenaic Stadium, which was the location of the 1st modern Olympic Games. This distance from Marathon to Athens is what is used for today’s race distances.  In the past 10 years the race has increased its participants from 10,750 to 60,000+ registered for the 2019 race. With this exponential growth the race ranks 14th in the world in participants, as well as Top 5 in Europe. We also learned about the Marathon Flame that The Authentic Marathon created. This flame is lit before the Athens Marathon at the opening ceremony each year at the Marathon Tomb. The Marathon Tomb is the location of Athenians graves after the Persian war. The course is one of the most historic courses in the world and is a must run course that most marathon runners have on their bucket list.

The 3rd lecture was from Panthinaikos BC, a very well-known basketball team in Greece. The lecture was from the General Manager, Themistocles Karvountzis. Panthinaikos BC is a professional team in Greece that competes in the Euroleague, The Greek League and The Greek Cup. They have a very rich history, and are one of the most successful European teams of the last 100 years. Due to this success they have been able to regularly fill their 18.5k capacity stadium and average around 10,000 season tickets sold in recent years. On top of ticket sales they attract big name players to their team; they have featured many former NBA Players like Dominque Wilkins, Kosta Koufos and Kostas Antetokounmpo. The team is currently coached by former Louisville head coach, Rick Pitino. On top of being a very successful team Panthinaikos is doing amazing things for the city. They recently started an Autism Spectrum Disorder Program. This program allows for local children with ASD to come together to learn sport, be active and have fun.

After our speakers, we headed over to the site of the 2004 Olympics. It was a massive complex full of the stadiums used for the games. The first arena we visited with our tour guide was the Main Olympic Stadium. Events like Track and Field and Soccer were the main use of this stadium. This is also the location used for the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2004 Olympic Games. Our tour guide told us how the stadium’s roof was made, 25,000 square meters with a capacity of 72,000 seats.  Now, after the games are said and done, the stadium is used primarily for soccer games for AEK Athens and the Panathinaikos F.C.  She also stated how it is a great venue for concerts.

Our next stop was the indoor and outdoor swimming pools used for the games. The bleacher seats used for the outdoor pool looked to be a little run down and not in use. However, the outdoor pool is used daily! Adults like to use the pool for recreational swimming. On the inside, the pool is always busy with action. The indoor facility receives 60,000 swimmers annually and the ages range from 6 months old all they way into older adults.  After the non-permanent seating for the Olympics was removed, the stands can fill an audience of 5,506.  This indoor stadium is also the home of where Michael Phelps broke and set the Olympic Record.

We ended our day with a bike tour around the city center of Athens. The big group split into two smaller ones, however, we received the same tour. One group set off going clockwise around the Acropolis why the other group went counterclockwise.  The first stop on the tour was atop the Filopappou Hill.  It is a park within the city limit where you can get a fantastic view of the Parthenon and the rest of the Acropolis. The hill is about the same height as the Acropolis so you are able to take in all its glory from afar before visiting the Acropolis itself.  The word “acropolis” comes from “acro” and “polis” which translates to “high or heights” and “city.” Most Greek city-states have their own acropolis but this is the most famous one.  The Parthenon was an important temple to the ancient Athenians since it was dedicated to the Greek Goddess Athena, who is their patron. Unfortunately we were not able to make it atop the Acropolis by bike so we are climbing the hill Sunday.

Later in the tour we visited the first stadium of the modern Olympics, the Panathenaic Stadium.  It is here where the events of the 1896 Summer Olympics were held.  The stadium is shaped similarly to that of an amphitheater. It is completely made out of marble and when it was created it held 50,000 spectators. Due to erosion, it has lost 5,000 seats over the course of time but it is still quite impressive for being built in the 6th century B.C. Today, the stadium is the finish point for the Athens Marathon (which starts in Marathon Town). Marathon Town is a small city outside of Athens which is exactly 42.2 km away.

Day 5 – Rome

By Brennon Davis & Dan Frank


The day began with an early alarm as we all packed up our belongings and new souvenirs we found during our time in Rome. Bound to fit as much as we can into our trip, we bused to the AS Roma training grounds before our flight to Athens.
AS Roma was an amazing experience. We had lecture there where we were lucky enough to hear from the Chief of Staff, a Manager of the Youth Coaches and Players, a Licensing Manager, the Chief Media Director, and the Chief Financial Officer. AS Roma is a soccer team in the top soccer league of Italy, Serie A. They have a first team that we were able to watch win over Juventus a couple days ago, but they also have a second professional team and a youth development program for kids aged 10-19. This is a large part of the growing organization that is traded publicly and owned by a company based out of Boston. Inside the organization they have their own radio and tv channels. We toured their training facility that came equipped with a world class training facility with over 9 pristine fields, living quarters for both their first teams and youth players, as well as a newly updated workout and rehab center.
As mentioned, after a quick introduction to AS Roma, the Manager of the youth teams came to explain more about the structure of the youth group and how they have managed to become so successful. AS Roma is one of the best clubs at developing youth players into impactful professional players they told us. They start at the age of 10 and even sign their youth to contracts. Over 20 scouts are in charge of finding the best talent from all over the world for these youth teams. Once at the facility there are able to stay there as long as they maintain their contract. In total, there are 558 players, 61 coaches, and 39 managers. Recently the soccer clubs have added a girls program and AS Roma has decided to do the same. They currently have 145 women players in the club. Throughout all the teams a similar playing style is coached and psychologists and both mental and physical therapists are on call to help with player recover. With all day soccer, we found out that the club signed a deal with a local school system to get them to come to the facilities to teach their boarding kids so they can still get a formal education. This system is undoubtedly well thought out and should have no issues in continuing to produce quality players both to represent their club and to sell to other clubs for revenue.
Our next speaker was Stefana, the Head of Licensing for the club. She was very insightful and knowledgable about how licensing really is the ground work for the financial aspect of a soccer club outside of selling tickets. She talked about partnerships and collaborations with other companies that hep boost market share and appeal. She used the main stream clubs as examples, Paris Saint Germain’s collaboration with the Jordan brand through connections made with Neymar and Michael Jordan. Or Liverpool’s collaboration with Vans, and AS Roma with formal wear brands. She stated that total revenue was about 15 – 20 million euros. She explained that within AS Roma, there is a lot of tradition and to use that within marketing and licensing, her team decided to introduce a new Heritage Logo. As a wrap up she talked about how advantageous it was to have an incredible licensing team on staff and how licensing was used as a strategic tool. With brand elevation, increased brand presence, the expansion of international pretense, setting up stores in the U.S. markets and Asian markets. This was our personal favorite speaker because of the financial insight and how much one collaboration and/or brand deal impacts the club.
After a short break filled with juices and snacks we did our best to stay awake for the rest of the lectures. We did a few stretches and then the Media Director came into speak with us. This was very interesting for many of the students on our trip that are studying respected fields. His entire talk was about how fast the winds change in the field of media and social perception of clubs and players. It was very interesting to hear about the drastic changes that were made when ownership changed hands. As we enter the social media age, everything has to adapt, even sports. AS Roma became the first club to start its own radio station, and is the 3rd fastest growing media company and center. It was particularly interesting to hear about how media centers handle the rumors and fake news put out by rival fanatic supporters. This system is well organized and incredibly ingenious with how fast it can adapt to stay up to date with technological revolution in todays world.
Before our last lecture we went to tour the facility. It was here that we saw a couple of their practice fields, their rehab/weight room, their residential area and lastly their media room. This was all very cool to see and the athletes that our on our trip had fun comparing it to our facilities back at OSU. We definitely all agreed that we are very fortunate to say ours are better.
Last, but not least was their Chief Financial Officer. He was a very good speaker and made it interesting by talking mostly about the transfer window and buying players, but also talked a lot about the club and their status compared to other soccer clubs around the world. This is where they talked about the new $1.1-1.2 Billion stadium, business, and residential district that they are finalizing approval for currently. He said that currently their clubs revenue from the first team is about $200-$250 million per season based off their performance during that year. With the new stadium however they are hoping to increase revenues by almost double that, $200 million for a total of $400 million per year. Currently they are renting a stadium for their game days and they feel that it is not suitable for bringing in as many fans as possible. Overall this lecture was very interesting and it was great to hear from multiple people in different divisions of the club.

After finishing our tour, we headed back to the hotel because of a late check out time. People were scrambling trying to get packed but were locked out because we missed our check out window. Immediately after we headed to the airport to hop on a flight to Athens, Greece. After waiting for about an hour to board, we finally took off and headed to our second country, Greece. We met our guide and hopped on the bus to finally check into the hotel and complete our long and adventurous day. We cannot wait to explore the city tomorrow!

Day 4 – Rome

By Lexi Miller & Lauren Tischer


We began our day early as we left the hotel around 8:00 am for our lecture of the day. After two bus rides we arrived at CONI, the Italian National Olympic Committee, where we heard our speaker Giovanni Malagò, the president of CONI.

During our lecture Giovanni Malagò discussed the Milano and Cortina Olympic candidacy for the 2026 Winter Olympic Games. These two cities offer such different advantages for the games, they are both being bidded, which is the first time ever for this to happen. Milano is a more modern capital which is better for hosting families, and its location is better suited for the necessary indoor facilities. While, Cortina on the other hand is made up of mountains and what not which makes it better suited for the outdoor events such as snowboarding and alpine skiing. He also mentioned that there was going to be a large focus on their values which included flexibility, efficiency and sustainability.

After this lecture, we all made our way back to the hotel to grab lunch. We had to fuel up in order to make it through the bike tour we had coming up. The other day we did a city bike tour of Rome, while this time was a country-side bike tour of the outskirts of Rome, more specifically along the ancient Appian Way. Let me just say, this was an adventure. Definitley not what anyone was expecting and completley different from the previous bike tour. So the Appian Way is one of Romes ancient roads that connected Rome to Brindisis, southeast Italy, consturcted about 2000 years ago. Along this trail we saw several historical sights including the Villa Di Massenzio, Mausoleum of Romulus, Mausoleum of Cecillia Metellia and lastly Capo di Bove.

The bike tour started out pretty slow as it took us a decent amount of time to bike out of the city and get to the backroads. By the time we got to backroads, we immediately began biking up long steep hills that would eventually lead us to where we were going (which coincidently, incorporated only more hills to bike up). The beginning of the bike tour was made up of beautiful picture taking, historical sight-seeing, great city views; meanwhile the end was more so revolved around dodging large rocks and riding bumpy gravel roads attempting to not fly off the bike just to make it out alive.  Safe to say, it was not easy – but we did indeed make it!

Once we reached about half way through the bike trip, we landed at this stone water hole that allowed us to refresh and quench our thirst with fresh spring water from the castle. Here is a picture of the stone watering fountain along with the two tour guides who led us around.

Getting to this point seemed like it was a lot simpler than getting back from this spot. The tour guide even said, “don’t ride on this part of the street because it’s not healthy because how bumpy it is,” which should have been the firest warning sign! The way back seemed to be steeper, bumpier and filled with more rocks and ditches. After being brutually tortured by these gravel roads and bumps, we thought we were close to th end. But next thing we knew we are sprinting across the road to get to a grassy area, with again, more hills. Another warning sign we should have taken in to account was then the guide warned us about making sure we stay single file in order to make it up the hill and emphasizing the idea of a need for speed. Here is a picture of the trail we began blazing at this time.

At this point, everyone was already wondreing how we got on this bike tour in the first place and questioned if we are going to make it out alive. Chains were falling off, people were falling off, there were overgrown plants, gravel, mud, sandy paths and who knows what else; we even passed a chicken coup.

Even though everyone emerged unscathed, everyone experienced sour bums, tired legs and scratches and bruises, but all of that came along with good pictures, fun stories and memories (and a different view on country bike tours) which made all the troubles worth it.

By this time, everyone was a little hangry. It’s been a while since we last ate and we just biked through rocks and gravel, so everyone was ready to settle down. When we landed at the bike stop everyone eargerly dispursed to different places for food. Before we got food, we stopped by Vaticain City to see the St. Peters Square. The building and area were gorgeous and we couldn’t help but capture the moment. Here is what we got.

We carried on with more picture taking and slowly made our way to a highly recommended pizza place, PizzaZizza. This has to be my favorite restaurant thus far. The atmosphere was so enjoyable and the pizza was even more enjoyable. They serve you a platter of several different pizzas for you to “sample”. Along with the pizza, we all got drinks that we desperately needed after the long bike ride we participated in.

After enjoying the end of our day at this cute little place, we made our back to the hotel. This was not as easy as we planned and took us quite some time to figure out. But all is good cause we made it back alive and well and continued to carry on with the rest of our night. When we got back to the hotel we all joined in one room and hung out for the rest of the night.  Times like these are what we will appreciate coming out of the trip as these are friendships we will cherish forever.

ROMA! ROMA! ROMA!

Day 3 – Rome

By Jyvel Tolbert & Frank Liu


Day 3 was a busy day for our group. Over the course of the day we attended the Italian Open (a.k.a., The Internazionali BNL d’Italia) at the Foro Italico venue, had free time, attended our first lecture on the trip, and attended the AS Roma vs. Juventus soccer match.

Our day began with a 9am breakfast at the hotel, then we left the hotel and made our way to the Foro Italico venue for the Italian Open. Upon arrival, people were just beginning to file in. We received our tickets, checked in, and began to explore. As a group we went to the first court and took a glimpse at the match that was going on. One thing that surprised me about the courts is that most of the seats are made of marble. It was pretty cool. After we took a glimpse of the match that was going on, we split our different ways and explored the venue. Some people went to get food, while others went and checked out the apparel stores. Sadly, we didn’t get to see any big name tennis players while we were there, but we all had fun, took some great pictures, and enjoyed our time there!

After we left the Italian Open, we went back to the hotel and relaxed until we had lecture. Our lecture went over the European Multi Sport Club Association and within this association, we focused on the Lazio SS organization. This lecture was given by Gabriella Bascelli. Through the lecture we learned some important facts about Lazio SS and the European Multi Sport Club Association. We learned when they were founded (Lazio SS:Jan. 9th, 1900, European Multi Sport Club Association: Jan. 8th, 2013), we learned that Lazio SS has over 70 clubs ranging from Ballet to Soccer to Cricket. We also learned that athletes start club sports around the age of 3 and they could potentially go professional around the age of 14 to 15 years of age. The lecture was very informative. Overall, we learned a great deal about Lazio SS and the European Multi Sport Club Association.

As night falls we began to make our way back to the Foro Italico, where the city turns its focus on the marquee matchup between AS Roma and Juventus. Roma was struggling for a champions league spot so this match had great importance, especially because Juventus is dominating league performance.

Our gameday experience started with a long bus ride. There were countless fans waiting at almost every stop since we got on and unfortunately for them, we filled up the entire bus.

Stadio Olimpico, the home stadium for AS Roma, also did not disappoint. The fans built up a great atmosphere from miles away from the stadium right up to the gate itself. Our tickets were also at the very top of the stadium so the view was also stunning.

The game itself was full of excitements and had all the elements of a great soccer game. Juventus came out strong in the first half and controlled most possessions. Even without half of their normal starting lineup, they still managed to create many lethal chances. However, Roma goalkeeper Mirante was actually having his game of the season and saved three one on one attempts that would have put Juventus ahead. Roma being dominated by Juventus helped build up this tension for most of the game that actually made the game so much more interesting. In fact, it wasn’t until the 79th minute that Roma finally capitalized on a Juventus turnover and captain Alessandro Florenzi managed to chip it over Juventus Goalkeeper Szczesny to take the lead in the game. From that point Juventus started to panic a bit and eventually gave up a second goal to another Roma counter attack in the 92nd minute. Overall, it was just a great experience as Roma is one of the world’s most famous soccer clubs and has that rich history. It was such a great evening to witness top tier European soccer inside this amazing venue.

Edin Dzeko last minute goal from the stands

Days 1 & 2 – Travel Day & Athens

By Caroline Rice & Kylie Sturgill

Day One: Friday- Travel Day

 

CMH→ATL→FOC

 

We all arrived at the Columbus airport on Friday at 11:15 AM. We met under the big arrivals and departures sign and we were all very excited for the trip to begin.
We made it through security…everyone’s bags were under 50 pounds. We had some time to kill before our flight departed at 2:24 PM so we spent the time getting to know each other and hanging out at the terminal and grabbing food. The flight to Atlanta was a quick one hour and five minutes.
Upon arrival at ATL, we all dispersed in the different food courts in the terminals to eat before the nine hour flight.

 

Everyone was super anxious to board the plane. It was really starting to set in that we would be waking up in Rome, Italy the next morning. When we got on the plane, it was packed and we all filed in to our seats to get situated and look for movies. A few hours into the flight, we were given a menu to choose our meal for dinner. We each watched two movies and ate dinner before attempting to fall asleep. The dinners were full course meals, and were surprisingly very good. We tried to get a lot of sleep on this flight because Rome is six hours ahead of Columbus, and we were arriving in Rome at 11:00 AM, which was 4:00 AM Columbus time. Although we didn’t get a lot of sleep, our adrenaline was running high and everyone was excited
to wake up in Rome. We were given breakfast on the plane shortly before landing.

 

Day Two: Saturday- Bike Tours of Rome and Lunch

 

Upon arrrival, we exited the plane to go through customs and pick up our luggage and then meet our tour guide Sjoerd.

 

He guided us out of the airport and onto the train that would be taking us 30 minutes to our hotel.
We were able to check out our hotel and hotel rooms before quickly meeting up to head to the City Center for Lunch and the Bike Tour.
We took the Bus to the City Center and ate lunch with Sjoerd at Trattoria Pizzeria. They even had gluten free pasta for Caroline!
From there we walked to pick up our bikes to begin the tour. We split up into two groups, each with their own tour guide.

 

Throughout the tour, we made stops at The Colosseum, Trevi Fountain, Imperial Forum, Piazza Di Spagna, Campo Marzio, Piazza Navona, The Pantheon, and The Holy Center.

The biking was a lot of fun, but it was quite the experience. We were riding on the bumpy cobblestone roads and it was really hard weaving through all of the crowds on the thin streets. We saw lots of vendors trying to sell selfies sticks and phone charges to all of the tourists. But riding the bikes gave us such a cool experience, being able to see eveyrthing in such a short amout of time and really feeling the wind blow as we flew around the historic city.

Both groups met back up to drop off their bikes and we were planning on taking the bus back but there was a demonstration that was occurring that shut down a lot of the busses, so we made the three mile hike back to the hotel.

After arrriving at the hotel, everyone was ready for a break and another meal. We grabbed a quick dinner down the street and hit the hay to rest up for our longest and busiest day tomorrow.

Day 8 – Berlin

by Makayla Waterman and Jessica Fette

On the final day of our European Model of Sport trip, we took a city bike tour around Berlin. While riding through the streets of Germany, we viewed many historical sites such as the Berlin Wall, Reichstag, Holocaust Memorial, and more.

Germany was once divided into East and West Germany. West Germany was under American, British, and French control, while the Soviets ruled the East. Life was much better in the West as they had more freedom and rights. Many people living in the East would try to escape to the West, but if caught, could spend up to five years in prison. The East tried to fix this problem by using 40,000 soldiers to build a wall topped with barbed wire; but not even that could stop people. So they built another wall! On the bigger wall they put sewage pipes and the other they again put barbed wire.

The space between the two walls was called the “Death Strip” because so many people lost their lives trying to escape. In the picture below, West Germany is on the left and East Germany is on the right. It was chilling to ride a bike through this space knowing so many people died here. It was a great opportunity for remembrance and reflection.

One of the many government buildings we stopped at was named Reichstag and it was the building where Hitler sat and controlled Berlin. Reichstag was built in 1884 and was burned down in 1933, so for 49 years this enormous building sat here and housed multiple governments. In 1933 there were rumors that an activist by the name Marinus Van Der Lubbe single handedly burned down the parliament building in an act against Hitler, but many do not believe that. The popular opinion about this tragic fire was that the communist started the fire as a sign of overthrowing the government and taking control. The building was rebuilt and is now being used as a government building as well as a tourist sight. The top of the building as you see below is a huge glass dome which is to represent government transparency as you can go inside and see directly down into government meetings. This building has a lot of history revolved around it and it is very impressive in size.

Below is a picture of the Holocaust Memorial which was one of the last stops on the tour. It’s full name is the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe and was built in 2005. The meaning of the sculptures is open to interpretation. Some say the blocks look like graves in a cemetery. One of the most striking features of the memorial is the ability to disappear into it so quickly. Standing outside the memorial, you don’t realize how tall the stones in the middle are or how many people are actually walking around through the maze. There is an eerie feeling walking through the site, and you never know what is going to be around the corner. There are also other memorials around the square commemorating the other groups that fell victim to the Nazis such as euthanization victims and homosexuals, but the Jehovah witnesses did not want a memorial in their honor.

Today marked our last day in Berlin as well as our last day in Europe. We were able to see so many cool sights today during our bike tour which made our last day special. We saw a lot of churches, many buildings Hitler owned while he was in power and we even saw the place where he killed himself. We also saw parts of the Berlin Wall and different checkpoints that surrounded it. Overall, this tour was very informative and we all learned a lot during it. We ended our trip with some of the most important things in Germany history and I think that is very cool. I am sure we will all miss Europe and all the fun experiences we had with this group.

Day 7 – Berlin

by Lincoln Ficek and Josh Miller

The day began early as we had to leave the hotel at 8:45 am for lectures. As we exited the elevator, we couldn’t help but notice the aroma of waffles. We loaded our trays with the aforementioned waffles along with fruit, scrambled eggs, and juice. The hotel also had lunchmeats for breakfast, which we are still getting used to. We next boarded the bus for a short drive to the German Olympic Sports Confederation. Christian Sachs was the first lecturer. He discussed the sports legacy of the divided Germany and Olympic bids in Germany. His current position is Head of Sports at the Berlin Office of Sports.

He began his lecture by discussing the history of Germany after WWII. The Federal Republic of Germany was controlled by England, the United States, and France while the German Democratic Republic was ran by the Soviet Union. Political ideologies and emphasis on sport were not consistent. The German Democratic Republic used sport to gain international recognition. They sacrificed integrity for success, as doping was widespread. They did dominate the Federal Republic of Germany in terms of medal count. The GDR also focused on individual sports rather than team sports. Individuals could win multiple medals in sports such as swimming and track and field. Scouting to find future star athletes began at a young age. Doctors examined children to predict what sport they would be best at. While still a powerhouse, after its unification in 1989, Germany has not had as much Olympic success. They fare better in the Winter Olympics than the Summer Olympics, with luge and bobsled being major reasons.

We then went around the room and told Christian about ourselves and the topic of eSports arose. He said that they were trying to decide whether or not they, as an organization should focus on it. In the debate we talked about whether or not it should be a “sport”. Does the hand eye coordination and movement of hand make it enough of a physical activity? We also talked a little bit about the professional sport scene in eSports and how some of them are making more money than some actual athletes in lower leagues. Interestingly, Christian said that they used the term “sport” in the name so that they could market it to a larger audience. His explanation was that almost everyone in the world liked sports so giving video games this tag will make it grow even more.

Christian next discussed Olympic bids in Germany. Citizens of Olympic host city candidates Munich and Hamburg voted against applying for a bid. The cost of infrastructure is a big reason why. Lastly, Christian discussed the importance of sport clubs. They played a huge role in bringing the people of the now unified Germany together. The majority of funding for sports clubs is privately funded. Public funding does occur, but the clubs have total control on how to allocate the money. There are 91,000 clubs and 27 million members in Germany.

Ralf Iwan was the next lecturer. He discussed the ASPIRE experience. ASPIRE is a sport academy in Qatar. Before talking about the academy itself, he gave us some background information about Qatar. It is a steadily growing city with 240,000 Qatari nationals comprising the population. The emphasis on sport has also increased. The 2022 World Cup will be hosted there. Additionally, the city has hosted a wide variety of international sporting events including the 2006 Asia Games. Ralf next discussed ASPIRE, a boys only sport academy that includes a boarding school. It develops middle and high-school aged athletes in soccer, table tennis, sailing, track and field, and squash. It was the first sport academy in the Middle East. They expect their students to be competing in international championships. For well-roundedness, students play complementary sports.

A few of us broke off when we got dropped off in the downtown area to grab some lunch. We stopped at a place called Don Angelo’s, which was right under the TV tower in Berlin. The restaurant was Italian and had many different choices. We ended up keeping it simple and went with penne pasta with shrimp and red sauce. It was the right choice as we all agreed it was the best pasta we’d eaten in a while.

After lunch we had some downtime before visiting the refugee camp. None of us knew what to expect. We arrived at what appeared to be an abandoned school and hangar. We were then given a tour of the facility. The space was massive. Inside, there were basketball hoops, volleyball courts, ping pong tables, pool tables, foosball, a boxing ring, and a baseball field. Outside featured a basketball court and soccer field. We learned that it isn’t a refugee camp anymore. However, just a few years ago, it held over 2000 refugees. Today, most have found places to live. The facilities main purpose is to teach refugees social skills through sports. We were originally scheduled to play soccer with them. However, because it was Ramadan and most of the refugees are Muslim, there was only one to play with us. As all of us are current or former athletes, the games we played were very competitive. After the girls won a tightly contested soccer game, we moved inside to play volleyball. Here, the boys were able to get their revenge and win the volleyball series. It was much needed exercise for all of us. Sweating from playing sports rather than just being in the sun felt amazing.



Tonight was the night of the trip where we had dinner as a big group in a fancy restaurant. We went to a place called Zur Gerichtslaube, which had authentic German cuisine. We had to order off of a group menu, but the choices were still amazing. Sjoerd treated us to drinks and a full three course meal. We started with a cream of potato soup with sausage and leek in it. For the main course we had a Berlin style meatball with mashed potatoes and sweet peas.

Finally, for desert we had a scrumptious little apple cake with whipped cream on the side. The dinner was a great way to talk with some new friends we have met on this trip, who hopefully we will continue to stay close with upon returning to Columbus.