Basketball is a great game. It’s been around for eons and doesn’t need to change. Therefore, let’s make a pact to one another. A true heart to heart. NO MORE OUTDOOR GAMES. Ever.
The idea to play outside to honor our troops was great on paper. They get to stay on their ship and see some high quality college basketball that is brought right to them. Problem is, as many things are in life, it wasn’t thought through…. at all.
Last year’s inaugural outdoor game, the Carrier Classic in San Diego, was a horrible game. Both the North Carolina Tar Heels and Michigan State Spartans couldn’t hit the broadside of the barn from the field. Between the wind, humidity and poor shooting backgrounds, it was an ugly display. Again, for a one time deal I can understand dealing with that but year after year there’s no point. You aren’t bringing the best product to the troops you are trying to entertain.
Instead, we should do what we saw today in Germany between the same Spartans and the Connecticut Huskies. Bring teams overseas and play inside in hangers, cafeterias, whatever. It gives the teams consistent conditions to play in and can help replicate the atmosphere you would see at any stadium throughout this country.
I think next year at least 2 teams should go to Afghanistan and play at one of the big bases in country. They are relatively safe and would allow the troops in the “true combat zone” to get a taste of home. You can also return a few teams to Germany and even send some college teams to Korea in what is another major hot spot for our troops in the world.
Playing basketball on an aircraft game comes with its risks. Sure, it wasn’t nearly as stupid as the football game the Illinois Fighting Illini and Northwestern Wildcats tried to play at Wrigley Field when they could safely use only one end zone. However, like that situation, the carrier events were cleared ahead of time without a backup plan.
I get conditions can change from when administrators and the leagues go out and “scout” a neutral venue but you can’t be caught with your pants down. If you must play outside again, at least, have an alternate venue you can go to if it doesn’t work out like we saw tonight.
What happened in both South Carolina and Florida was a complete embarrassment. College basketball is a sport that is already off the radar for many given that football is in the home stretch and the NBA just started. Next time, just keep it simple.