The Florida Gators basketball team is scheduled to face the Georgetown Hoyas on an aircraft carrier during the upcoming season. The two will play each other on November 9, 2012 off the coast of Jacksonville, FL. It is not yet clear whether they will play on an active or a retired ship.
This isn’t the first time (Michigan State and North Carolina played in the first Carrier Classic last season) and isn’t even unique to one per season anymore (there will be three such games during 2012-13), but that doesn’t mean it’s any less, well, cool.
When first hearing that the Gators will be part of one of these events, that was my first thought: “COOL!” I’m no longer a kid and well past my prime of even being able to think of myself as cool, but this is exactly that. It doesn’t matter if there are three games played on aircraft carriers this season, followed by 10 next season, and 50 the season after that; they will always have that added cool factor.
First of all, it’s a tribute to those that faithfully serve our country. Whether you believe or not in the wars we as a nation wage, most of us agree it takes a special person to volunteer for military service. While playing college basketball on an aircraft carrier isn’t necessarily the tribute they may be looking for, it’s a unique one we can get behind all the same. But without getting too much into a realm we virtually never discuss around here, I’ll go back to my first point: it’s damn cool.
I grew up in (what felt like at the time) the G.I. Joe era in terms of the toy market. The G.I. Joe aisle was twice as long as it is today and dominated shelf space – and my closet. You were cool if you were able to get your hands on a Snake Eyes action figure. You were cooler if you had Storm Shadow. But something topped both of those on the coolness scale (and by now those of you that grew up in the 1980s know where I’m going) and it was this.
That might have been THE toy of the 1980s for boys. Released in 1986, it was what every G.I. Joe-collecting kid wanted. The picture above isn’t an exaggeration – IT WAS SEVEN AND A HALF FEET LONG!!! I don’t know how tall I was in 1986 when I was seven years old, but 26 years later I’m still not 7’6”. The U.S.S. Flagg was cool for many reasons, but the defining one was its size.
I had the Terror Drome – which wasn’t exactly small – but I never had the aircraft carrier. I don’t feel let down by my childhood, but I do remember Scott (the goalie on my soccer team) having one and because of it, Scott was cool. Like coolest kid in the neighborhood cool. I had another friend that had the Defiant, but I don’t even remember his name. What does that tell you regarding which toy was cooler?
I’m now a grown man and toys just aren’t as cool anymore (at least I tell myself that even if I am excited that I’m about to have a son and in a few years can relive my toy-playing days). Toys were replaced by sports as I exited the 1980s and moved into the 1990s. Sports endured through that decade and another one and into today. And they definitely have had their moments of cool. Too many to name or even remember with many more to come.
I’ll watch the Gators play on an aircraft carrier because they’re the Gators (let’s not kid ourselves; I’d watch them play in a deserted parking garage), but I’ll also watch because of the reasons behind these games and, finally, because it’s just so cool.