Basketballs aweigh! There seems to be a trend for sports in strange places. Call it marketing, call it wretched excess, call it college football on the aircraft carrier used to bury Osama bin Laden at sea.
The Carrier Classic will feature Michigan State playing the University of North Carolina on Veterans Day, November 11, on the top deck of the USS Carl Vinson which will be moored off the coast of the U.S. Naval Base in San Diego.
Photo: creative commons/flickr/two gypsy hearts
What a waste of money. Two basketball courts have to be built, one outside for good weather, one inside in the hangar for bad. The seating for the flight deck (outside) stadium will be wrapped with fabric to help block the wind. The ship will be moored in such a way that the sun will be in mid-court, so no one will have to shoot into the direct sun light. It will cost at least a million dollars.
A lighting crew that does lighting for rock concerts will be making the court bright enough for the players (and the t.v. cameras of course). Don't worry, seats will be tied, not bolted down. Should the ship be needed for more active service, the whole thing can be dismantled in 24 to 36 hours.
Only 7,000 fans will be allowed in, mainly military people, veterans and their families but it will be televised.
The ship has a proud history. It launched the first attacks on targets in Afghanistan and carried bin Laden's body out to sea. The promoters consider this new role to be a great honour for the warship:
"Now that the Carl Vinson is back safe and sound and America is now well-aware of the important mission that was tasked to the Carl Vinson, we find it to be a source of pride that this ship will make history twice in 2011."
Or conversely, to quote an old-timer from the Military Times:
"I may be in the minority here, but I can't understand the appeal about playing a basketball game on a docked aircraft carrier. Now if it was at sea, then yeah, that would be awesome. The players could be flown on C-2s...let's make it a real Navy experience. It'd be expensive, but we've wasted money on dumber things."
The Winter Classic, an annual New Year's Day outdoor hockey game, is another sport played in what didn't used to be a strange place. It should have been a no-brainer: playing hockey outside: Canadian boys have been doing that for years. But some marketing genius had the idea to have NHL players skate outside at baseball and football stadiums on New Year's Day and now it's huge.