It was February of 1988. I was in New Orleans as a representative of Syracuse University Ambulance for a conference at Tulane University. One of the other schools attending was Georgetown University. Syracuse-Georgetown. The Big East. College basketball powers.

(We didn’t really like each other that much. It’s a longer story… nothing truly serious or with any type of real dislike based on something substantial… plus a true retelling and investigation would involve much more than just the two schools or students from those schools at the event. But, it makes for better reading to create some tension. And, we never were compelled to spend any time with the group from Georgetown while there or stay in touch with any of their group after leaving. So… sure… we didn’t really like each other that much.)

During our stay, the two schools played a regular season basketball game. Georgetown was one of our primary rivals, and we were pretty excited about the game. I won’t make fun of the Hoyas right now (What is a “Hoya” anyway?), but when we asked them if they were going to watch the game everyone in their group said no. Evidently, when you “are as good as (Georgetown), everyone thinks playing (Georgetown) is a big deal. Playing (Syracuse) doesn’t mean much.”

(They were pretty snobbish and arrogant actually. You know what? We really didn’t like each other that much.)

Their reaction did get me thinking though… why did we think it was such a big deal? The game. The rivalry. And, was it true? Did Georgetown play so many big games—and get challenged by so many opponents that wanted to beat them—that a game against the Orangemen was no big deal?

There is a term that my drivers’ education teacher used so many years ago. “Velocitized.” His definition was that when you travel an extended period of time at a certain speed it becomes almost second nature to you, so that going even a little bit slower or faster doesn’t feel right. His point was that you can come off the highway, having been at 55 or 65 miles per hour, and suddenly doing 35 feels wrong even though that is the limit for the road.

Does Georgetown play so many big games that after a while most turn into nothing special? I actually can see an argument successfully made that maybe they do.

Keep telling me what a big deal is and eventually I’m just not going to believe it any more. While not a big-time program for the past few years, at the time of these events in the eighties the Hoyas were just past winning one championship and had played in three title games over four years. If I had been at their school during that time I might not have cared much about the regular season. …I might have grown tired of it if week after week any opponent talked about a huge game. Wake me up in March.

I still think some of it was school pride though, a lot was arrogance, and a sizeable chunk was not wanting to admit it mattered when they lost. And in reality, I see most sports fans making up their own minds about what matters and what doesn’t. Perhaps we cared, and they did too, thought they just decided not to show it.

I mention this now because I think there might be a use for this term, and you may see me bring it up again and again. Velocitized… too close to it, too used to it. It has promise.

(Oh yeah… I also thought their ambulance was ugly.)

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In the early days of the In My Backpack web site, I was trying several different ways to present material.

My journal entries were referred to as “A Momentary Lapse…” for a period of time, which eventually transitioned to “Are you chewing gum?” for a bit. Eventually, after a few restarts, modifications, and relaunches, the Now Playing area took over.

One of occasional segments—appearing perhaps ten times a year or so—was called Random Thoughts, which I described as…

Too long for “A Momentary Lapse…”… Not enough for a full article… Need to get them off my “ideas to work on” list…

This essay was originally created and presented as a Random Thoughts entry. I’m bringing it back as a From the Backpack offering because I’m curious about the content and the effort. But, worth noting, it may still seem a bit incomplete, needing more development, and may or may not have gone through some additional edits and re-writes beyond my usual finds when searching the archives.


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