As I sat in the ESPN Zone in Times Square yesterday watching Georgetown end the Pitt Panthers' 31 home game winning streak, I spent some time reflecting upon our most recent HHC posts by Kasper Statz (Col '10) and Leslie Tyburski (MSB '06). I was impressed by both of their comments about the evolution of rivalries, and their relevance to basketball fans today. It reminded me of Commisioner Paul Tagliabue's comments on the Jesuit concept of "Composition of Place," made at the Georgetown Leadership weekend last year. I will get back to my thoughts on sports rivalries, but let's first talk about the Georgetown-Pitt game.
If you have never attended a game at the Petersen Events Center. It is perhaps the most impressive modern facility I have ever seen, even more so than the Comcast, or John Paul Jones Center. The Pitt students wearing their "Zoo" T-shirts certainly provide a formidable home-court advantage. It was an old-fashioned physical Big East contest, where both teams played impressively throughout. In my opinion, Chris Wright had his best performance as a Hoya considering the opponent and the venue. It was certainly a team effort as always for Georgetown, with Julian Vaughn and Greg Monroe making key inside baskets, and crashing both the offensive and defensive boards. Georgetown became the only team other than Louisville to win more than one game at the Petersen Center.
Getting back to our discussion of sports rivalries, as basketball fans we must certainly admire Jamie Dixon for the job he has done. Pitt has been a perennial contender for both the Big East Men's Basketball regular season and tournament championships for many years. In reading Kasper and Leslie's excellent posts I certainly understand how our rivalries have evolved over the years. It is understandable that for those who did not grow up with Big East and Georgetown Basketball, it is hard to understand the significance of a Georgetown-Syracuse rivalry as for our current students it started before they were even born. It is interesting that we have just played Pitt, and have tough games with Rutgers this Saturday, and the Orange of Syracuse on Monday night in the Carrier Dome. I concur with Leslie that we often relive and reflect on the "Glory Days by Embellishing Moments in Time." I am certainly as guilty as anyone of this. However, I would argue that they certainly do hold true in the present! I think where we differ is in our definition of a "Rivalry."
As one basketball fan, I do agree that rivalries, evolve and things change over time. Furthermore, I do think that there are generational differences in how we all view sports in general. Certainly, you can make a good argument that Georgetown has significant rivalries with every team in the Big East especially Pitt since we have competed for the Big East Championship numerous times in recent history. However, I would argue that to be a sports rivalry that is synonymous with the Big East, or what I would call a Legendary Rivalry one needs to have at least two things:
1) Two teams that have battled for championships.
2) A Defining moment in history.
As Leslie pointed out there are certainly regional factors involved in rivalries. For myself, rivalries like Michigan-Ohio State, or Green Bay vs Chicago hold no meaning for me. I did not grow up in that environment. When I think of Legendary Rivalries I think of the Redskins-Cowboys, Army-Navy, Yankees-Red Sox, Ali-Frazier, and Georgetown-Syracuse. If you look at the rivalry I consider to be the greatest rivalry in Sports: the Redskins-Cowboys, you see how they have battled for their division for many years--perhaps not recently though. I also can never forget how the former infamous Redskins coach lived for that rivalry. Who can forget that on New Year's Day in 1973 the Washington Post shouting "Happy 1973 We are a Winner at Last!" as the Redsking routed the defending Super Bowl Champion Dallas Cowboys. I would contend that moment has transcended time. Likewise, it is hard to understand how in the early days of the Big East it was considered impossible that a new conference made up of Northeast schools could be mentioned with the Big Ten, ACC, and PAC-10. John Thompson, Jr. was certainly a master psychologist understanding that in our Big East Championship Game with St. John's in 1985 he needed to wear that sweater to lighten the mood, and get his team focussed on playing the game instead of being caught up in the Georgetown-St. John's rivalry. Certainly, college sports has become more of a global phenomenon like our own alma mater, Georgetown. As I have spent the last few days in NYC, I cannot imagine things ever being like 1980-1985 again. In those days on every street in the 5 boroughs of New York, all anyone could talk about is that Georgetown was playing Syracuse or St. John's for a championship. It was truly like a Heavyweight Fight!
As students of Georgetown we know that we are defined by our actions. Who can forget Jonathan Wallace nailing that 3-pointer against North Carolina in the Meadowlands, or Jeff Green's series of late game heroics helping propel Georgetown to the 2007 Final Four. These are certainly events that will transcend time. Likewise, Sleepy Floyd hitting those last two free throws to close Manley Field House are in my opinion events that will forever define the Big East Conference and even College Basketball. Well enough of my reliving the glory days. The Big East Conference today means that on any day, any team can easily win. We must take one game at a time. As a big fan of the TV Show Smallville, I love the trailer to the episode as the famous relationship between Clark Kent and Lois Lane takes off. In that episode they state, "There are Moments that define a Legend; then there are moments that are Legendary!"
Congrats to JT III and the Hoyas for the great win at Pitt. Let's be prepared for every game and cheer on the Hoyas!
We are Georgetown!
Dr. Thomas A. Wong
Proud Member of Generation Ewing
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Friday, January 1, 2010
It still seems very strange to me travelling to the Midwest for a Big East Conference Game? Chicago has always been one of my very favorite cities in spite of the bitter cold. When I arrived at O'Hare today the famed icey wind hit me as soon as I went outside. Today I begin my weekend in Chicago starting with breakfast at my all time favorite Lou Mitchell's. Getting ready for the Bulls-Magic game tonight at United Center. Hoya Saxa!
Dr. Thomas A. Wong
Vice-President Hoya Hoop Club--Communications
Proud Member of Generation Ewing