Let’s get off the boat. Now.
Friday night’s cancellations of two games staged on naval ships -- No. 4 Ohio State vs. Marquette and Georgetown vs. No. 10 Florida (called at halftime) -- didn’t ruin the night. But they did rob college basketball’s opening day of its full potential.
The culprit? Condensation.
The game between the Buckeyes and Golden Eagles, who were to play on the USS Yorktown in Charleston, S.C., was a victim of a moisture problem that players, coaches and servicemen on their hands and knees could not wipe away. A few hours later, NBC Sports suffered its second cancellation of the night when game officials called Georgetown’s matchup against Florida after halftime.
Broadcasters and analysts became amateur meteorologists as they tried to explain the atmospheric ingredients that turned outdoor basketball courts into slipping slides.
There was confusion and chaos. It was an embarrassment for the sport.
And the “Should we give it a try?” deliberation that continued for far too long only enhanced that sentiment. At one point, we were told that basketball couldn't be played until it got 3 degrees colder. Ever heard that one before?
Player safety wasn’t the first consideration. The event was No. 1. That’s why game officials at both sites spent so much time seeking ways to skirt Mother Nature’s rules.
They wanted to play to honor the servicemen, the stage and the sponsors. Meanwhile, young men were placed in situations that could have jeopardized their careers. Even a slip in warm-ups could have proved costly for an athlete.
That’s why this has to stop.
Last year’s Carrier Classic was an amazing gala. President Barack Obama sat in the front row as Michigan State and North Carolina commenced the 2011-12 season.
And then, three more matchups were announced in the offseason. A game had suddenly turned into a trend.
It’s one that should end with Sunday’s matchup between No. 9 Syracuse and No. 20 San Diego State aboard the USS Midway in San Diego. The game was moved from Friday to Sunday because of weather concerns. So if you're keeping track at home, not a single one of the aircraft carrier games went off as scheduled.
Even if the rescheduled meeting ultimately is safe for players, we have all the evidence we need to terminate this movement. And we don’t have to huddle up at midcourt before a decision is made. Let’s end college basketball games on ships. It’s that simple.
But college basketball has formed an important and meaningful connection with our servicemen through its opening day festivities. That should continue, especially with the season opener arriving before Veterans Day.
That's why it's comforting to know a different branch of the military will be represented each year with an opening day game at a military base. That's a good thing.
It's an even better thing that those games will be held indoors.