Connor Van Hulzen— Staff Writer
The NHL just concluded two games set on the shores of the majestic Lake Tahoe. While there were logistical issues—mainly the sun being so hot the ice melted during the day, requiring the scheduled games to be pushed to later at night—the views included on the broadcast and the novelty of playing on an outdoor rink in the Sierra Nevada Mountains is something that I think needs to be expanded upon greatly in the future.
This concept of playing games at venues which neither team call ‘home’ is not new. The NHL routinely plays Winter Classic games in massive outdoor football stadiums. The NCAA has seen basketball teams play on an aircraft carrier at port. The NFL has played regular season games in Mexico and the UK. The MLB recently hosted some Yankees vs. Red Sox games in London. The NBA seems to play around the globe in exhibitions and regular season games.
I would personally love to see this idea expanded on a much greater scale.
Who would not love to see the Minnesota Wild play professional hockey on an outdoor rink in the northern Minnesotan hamlet of Warroad, population 1,781? What is Warroad’s claim to fame? For a town that has never exceeded 2,000 people, it has produced almost 80 NCAA Division I hockey players and boasts that every U.S. Men’s Olympic hockey team to win a gold medal has featured at least one Warroad citizen.
Why can’t March Madness be held in high school gyms across the state of Indiana? The NCAA has chosen to consolidate the tournament into the state due to the ongoing pandemic, but these gyms will unfortunately not be among the venues used for games. The sight of a game taking place in the historic Hickory, Indiana gymnasium where the inspiration for the movie Hoosiers took place would be outstanding.
Continuing in that same vein, it would be great to see games between non-traditional opponents in unusual venues. This season Nebraska’s men’s basketball team played GPAC opponent Doane. Renewing a rivalry that had been dormant since the year 1900, Nebraska expectedly thrashed Doane 110-64. The results of the game were not a surprise, but the novelty of the game itself is what interests me.
What if Dordt scheduled a game in the DeWitt against the University of Iowa? Call me crazy, but I’m pretty sure the DeWitt would be filled to the brim. Dordt would not in any universe be expected to win, but simply the idea of a matchup against a powerhouse like Iowa is interesting enough to pursue.
Whether in a cornfield in Iowa, on a docked aircraft carrier, or in the DeWitt Gymnasium, the concept of playing high-level sports in unusual locations is something that, while expanded upon recently, remains elusive on a large scale. Hopefully, as the light at the end of the tunnel better known as COVID-19 grows nearer and nearer, teams can return to playing their games in interesting and different venues.