Rick Reilly on Games security and the arrival of a gold medal gate-crasher
By Rick Reilly
Everybody's got a story about the security at these Olympics. I've got a few.
Take, for instance, the ticket my brother, John, bought for the short pairs program on Feb. 9. Short pairs is not Bob Costas and Katie Couric; it's an ice skating event and, like reckless driving, a very tough ticket. He paid $210. The ticket read section 47, row 1, but John couldn't find any Section 47 at the Delta Center. Finally, an usher directed him to it. It was a luxury box. Nice. Fancy people. Free food. Free drinks.
Only it turns out it was Utah governor Mike Leavitt's luxury box. Only it wasn't just the governor in there. There was U.N. secretary-general Kofi Annan and his two bodyguards. And Nobel Peace Prize winner Lech Walesa. And Olympian Kristi Yamaguchi. And who knows who else.
John didn't know who else because he didn't introduce himself to anybody. "I thought all those bodyguards would throw me out," he said. Then again, he did have a ticket. Which made you wonder, From whom did he buy the ticket? Jean-Claude Killy? Juan Antonio Samaranch? "It was a little guy, chubby, black hair with gray in it," my brother said.
Oh, good God. Desmond Tutu?
"Ticket?" she said.
"Excuse me?" I said.
"I need to see your ticket."
"Oh, no," I said, laughing. "I'm trying to leave."
"I know," she said, stone-faced. "I need to see your ticket."
"And if I don't have my ticket? What would you do, kick me in?"
"Do I need to call my supervisor?"
I showed her my ticket. She let me out.
I'm keeping it handy. I might see her again.
I wrote about Rich at the Super Bowl, where I witnessed him sneaking past security without a ticket. It was his 33rd straight Super Bowl without the nuisance of having to actually pay. At least this time he didn't go on the field and hoist the winning coach on his shoulders, as he has done before.
He has also made his way sin boleto into the Academy Award ceremonies, the Kentucky Derby and 14 Olympic Games.
This time, though, the Games are ready for him. As reporters made their way through security at the opening ceremonies, they could see a picture of Rich taped to the metal detectors with a memo attached that instructed guards not to arrest Rich until they were sure he had entered the stadium without a ticket.
Not only that, but before he left his home in San Diego, Rich got a little visit from two Secret Service agents, warning him to be on his best behavior in Salt Lake. Once here, he was standing in line for an event when he was surrounded by half a dozen Salt Lake policemen. They escorted him to a little room, sat him down and said, "Can we have your autograph?" They also took their pictures with him and gave him a souvenir pin. Tough town.
Yet Rich still plans to try. "Are you kidding?" he said. "I'm insulted! Why give up now? It's just getting challenging!"
I have no doubt he'll find his way in. My question is, Is he good enough to sneak out?