Berry Tramel

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Scam operation: Trying to talk your way into a Thunder game

by Berry Tramel Published: May 28, 2014
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SMG employee Randy Hampton runs security checks on fans as they enter the arena before game two of the Western Conference semifinals between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA basketball playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, May 3, 2011. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman
SMG employee Randy Hampton runs security checks on fans as they enter the arena before game two of the Western Conference semifinals between the Memphis Grizzlies and the Oklahoma City Thunder in the NBA basketball playoffs at Oklahoma City Arena in Oklahoma City, Tuesday, May 3, 2011. Photo by Chris Landsberger, The Oklahoman

I was sitting at a table with colleagues Tuesday night, having dinner an hour or so before tipoff of Game 4, when Scott Wilson, a Thunder P.R. staffer, came up and said someone was at the media entrance, saying they had an appointment with me.

Two guys were telling the check-in folks that they were scheduled to shadow me during the ballgame and they should have credentials. Scott was on the phone with the people at the credential desk, relaying information. Said a University of Central Oklahoma professor, somebody named Richter, had arranged for two of his students to shadow me during the game.

I had to say, I didn’t know anything about it.

Turns out, of course, the entire thing was a ruse. A couple of yardbirds were trying to get into the game and dropped my name.

You had to give them credit for ingenuity. Nothing ventured, nothing gained. But this was a longshot.

The Thunder probably would let me work out some kind of shadowing agreement for students or even someone who purchased something via charity. But it would be for a preseason game against Sacramento. Not Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals.

Unfortunately for the guys, we have all kinds of information at our disposal. For example, when I learned of the escapade, Mark Scott was standing not four feet from me. Mark is a UCO professional media professor who helps Bob Barry Jr. and the Channel 4 crew with a variety of game-night duties. I tapped Mark on the shoulder, asked if anyone named Richter taught journalism at UCO. Nope, was the answer.

So the story fell apart quickly. I said “I know nothing” and the guys were sent on their way.

Later, a Thunder staffer who was at the media entrance told me the guys weren’t dressed like they would be in any kind of professional endeavor. Just a couple of yahoos who hatched a plan to get into the game.

But it made me think of how easy it would be for those of us on the inside to gain entrance into games without tickets or credentials. Knowing what we know, there are all kinds of ways to sneak in. I won’t really share those, since I don’t condone unethical behavior. But football, basketball, baseball, doesn’t matter. There are ways into sporting events if you’re willing to risk being caught in the act.

These guys would have been better off yelling, “Hey, look over there,” then making a mad dash for the concourse and freedom. Their plan sounded good, I’m sure, at one time. Didn’t have a lot of execution possibilities, however.

 

by Berry Tramel
Columnist
Berry Tramel, a lifelong Oklahoman, sports fan and newspaper reader, joined The Oklahoman in 1991 and has served as beat writer, assistant sports editor, sports editor and columnist. Tramel grew up reading four daily newspapers — The Oklahoman,...
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