Carrier overkill? Air Force, Army set for basketball on Yorktown

Yorktown carrier

The decommissioned carrier Yorktown could host up to six college basketball games over three days this November. (Navy photo by MC1 Jennifer R. Hudson)

A brief recap: Eugene Ely piloted his Curtiss Hudson Flier off the scout cruiser Birmingham on Nov. 14, 1910, to usher in the era of naval aviation.

Then, for a century, important stuff happened. It’s all here, if you’re curious.

After 100 years or so, things got a little dull. It was time to use the embodiment of American force projection, the aircraft carrier, for something a little less important. Something that put form over function. Something ridiculous on its face, but good for morale — think golfing on the moon, but with a sponsor.

The Quicken Loans Carrier Classic brought two elite college basketball teams and the president to the carrier Carl Vinson in November, resulting in a sporting event viewed by some as among the year’s best.

That begat talks of a sequel, which begat plans to move the game to another coast, which begat a second carrier game for California. By the time all that begatting was over, there was a home-run derby scheduled for a carrier. And then the Russians got involved.

All of that brings us to Thursday’s report by Frank Schwab of the Colorado Springs (Colo.) Gazette, who writes that the head organizer of last year’s Carrier Classic, whose group is bringing four college teams to play a doubleheader on the decommissioned flattop Yorktown on Nov. 9, says there’s a 95 percent chance Air Force and Army will square off Nov. 10 as part of a four-team men’s tournament on the carrier. The Citadel would take on Virginia Military Institute in another Nov. 10 game, with championship and consolation games being played Nov. 11 either on the carrier or back at The Citadel’s gym, according to the report.

That could mean seven flattop-based basketball games in three days — the Classic, the tournament, and the “Battle on the Midway” out West. And somehow, none of these games involves a team from the Naval Academy.

Throw in a home-run derby on Yorktown in June and whatever the Russians come up with and suddenly the “uniqueness” of games on a flattop is long gone. It leaves fans and service members alike with a question of basic at-sea physics — can sporting events on a carrier jump a shark?


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