The NHL debuted their first outdoor game in 2003, it was the Heritage Classic held in Edmonton between the Edmonton Oilers and Montreal Canadians. After a successful experiment, the NHL decided that this could be a successful marketing concept and in 2008 held the first Winter Classic. Since then the game has become an annual event and the signature game of the NHL regular season.
After featuring only American teams for its first five years, the 2013 NHL Winter Classic would have featured its first Canadian team, as the Toronto Maple Leafs were scheduled to play against the Detroit Red Wings, but the game has been cancelled due to the 2012–13 NHL lockout. Great job all the way around you greedy bastards…
The point here is that hockey is a cold weather game and so playing outside on occasion works. The reason so many professional players come from cold weather countries throughout Europe and Northern parts of North America is that when they are kids, they spend their childhoods skating on ponds and playing hockey outdoors as much as they do indoors. The reason college and pro games are played in arenas is so the conditions can be controlled both for the participants and the fans. Indoor contests are easily played in a scheduled fashion regardless of the weather conditions. Playing indoors also provides a venue for teams to reliably host a money making business with merchandise and food sales, marketing and entertainment.
This brings me to the moron (I’m guessing a TV executive) who convinced the NCAA to start playing basketball games on aircraft carriers. It started last year, when North Carolina and Michigan State played on the USS Carl Vinson in San Diego, a novelty indeed. In fact, it turned into ESPN’s highest-rated regular season game in five years as television viewers got to look at the grand panorama. President Obama even showed up in a bomber jacket. But like a bank robber who gets away with his first heist and says, “Well that was easy,” the NCAA got greedy and this season scheduled three games on ships and one at Ramstein Air Force Base in Germany. You know, Evel Knievel made his first jump rather easily but then proceeded to make the Guinness Book of World Records for the survivor of “most bones broken in a lifetime.” You would think someone would have learned from that.
Is it just me or is opening night of college basketball starting to sound like the college bowl season to you too? The one outside Jacksonville on Friday was billed the Navy/Marine Corps Classic. That’s not to be confused with the Armed Forces Classic, the Carrier Classic or Midway Classic. Even the two other opening night games played without the military backdrops, the Barclays Center Classic and 2K Sports Classic were classically named…
Jacksonville marketed Friday’s game as part of a promotional package. For between $1,000 and $5,000 (if you got the shaft) fans got Thursday night’s Jaguars-Colts game, the aircraft game (Navy/Marine Corps Classic), a pregame concert and a halftime fireworks show. There was only one problem, the game aboard the USS Bataan between Florida and Georgetown had to be cancelled at halftime because of condensation on the court… Florida was winning 27-23 but the game will not count. As for the other “aircraft games,” Friday’s game on the USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C., between Ohio State and Marquette was canceled before it even started due to condensation on the court as well and the game between Syracuse and San Diego State on the USS Midway in San Diego was postponed earlier in the week until Sunday due to stormy weather.
Between the fine men and women in our armed forces and both NCAA and television executives, there wasn’t anyone who thought about the outside elements coming into play when they scheduled these things? Can you imagine how much money it must take to turn an aircraft carrier into a basketball court and then back to a battleship again? And they have to turn the floating fighter into an area for fans to watch the darned thing. What about security issues there? That all costs money, who paid for this stuff, the taxpayers?
That brings me to my main point. Forget about the stupidity of attempting to play a basketball game on an aircraft carrier. A United States war vessel simply shouldn’t be used this way. We as taxpayers are billions of dollars in debt, in part to make and man these fine ships so that we can protect our citizens and interests. Using these massive warships this way is trivializing their existence and a grave misuse of their resource. If the US government has no better use for these war vessels and there is time to host basketball games on them then we should be able reduce our military budget by a shitload, which would help reduce our debt and balance the budget. Monetary aspects aside, what if there was an attack on our country while a game was going on? What would they do, whisk all the civilians, players and media off the boat and then rooster tail it to where it had to be with a basketball court and bleachers on its deck? How the hell would the planes take off and land with varnished wood all over on the runway?
Mother Nature defeated Florida, Georgetown, Ohio State, Marquette, San Diego State and Syracuse on opening night, but that’s not the story here. US warships should be used for what they were built for, not for entertainment. It’s stupid, it’s irresponsible and a misuse of funds and resources. I’m not suggesting wasting more taxpayer money by holding Congressional hearings on this to find out who is responsible for approving the use of our war vessels this way (ok, maybe I am), but if you are someone who has a friend or relative that was injured or lost their life protecting our country, you have to be bouncing off the walls right now about how they are using these warships…