Wednesday, September 5, 2012

5,000 Miles To The East

TigerBlog knows two people who live about three or four miles apart near Princeton.

Last Thursday, they both woke up in the same town and then went to the same airport. One flew 3,000 miles west; the other went 5,000 miles east.

Doing the math, they went from waking up three or so miles apart one day to 8,000 miles apart the next day.

TigerBlog remembers driving home from a Trenton State College basketball game one night a long time ago with then-TSC SID Pete Manetas. TB is pretty sure the game was a holiday tournament game at one of the Pennsylvania Division III schools, maybe Moravian.

Anyway, TB and Manetas got into a discussion about the history of human beings, and TB raised the question of what percentage of people who have ever lived have flown in an airplane. Has to be small, no?

For much of human history, having two people wake up one day in the same small town and the next 8,000 miles apart would have been impossible. These days, it's so commonplace that it hardly makes you stop and think about how small the world continues to get.

The person who went west was on her way to a wedding in California, only to find out when she arrived at the wedding that it had been called off.

Apparently, it was called off before she ever got on the plane, only word didn't reach her or a handful of other guests, who showed up in full wedding attire. TB would be a tad miffed had he done so, largely for having to drag his dress shoes across the country.

The person who went east went with the Princeton men's basketball team on its trip to Spain, which runs through this weekend.

Princeton is now 1-2 on the trip in its games against Spanish professional teams following a 94-72 loss to Alicante. When TB saw the name of the opponent, during the Valencia portion of the trip, he couldn't help but smile.

Alicante was the town where the men's lacrosse team landed on its 2008 trip to Spain and Ireland. TB saw the airport in Alicante, and that was it, as the team bused over an hour to the coastal resort of La Manga. Even now, men's lacrosse faculty fellow John McPhee, who was TB's roommate in Spain, will refer to himself as "Juan of La Manga."

Princeton's leading scorer on this trip so far has been Ian Hummer, who had 21 and 20 in the first two games and then 14 against Alicante. That's an average of 18.3, which is what TB would suggest will be around what Hummer will average this year.

Hummer enters his senior year with 1,170 carer points, and he needs to average fewer than 12 per game to catch Douglas Davis to be the second all-time leading scorer in Princeton history.

In case you're wondering, he needs to average 47.6 points per game to catch Bill Bradley for first, to give you an idea of how ridiculous Bradley's accomplishments were.

The trip to Spain has been chronicled through stories, pictures and videos on, and they remind TB of the trips he's taken with the men's lacrosse team.

It's obvious from watching the video and seeing the pictures and stories that the experience of traveling overseas has a great impact on a college athletic team.

And, as was the case for the men's lacrosse trip to Costa Rica, it should be a must to go to a soccer game as part of these trips, as the men's basketball team did when it went to the Barcelona game.

The video is designed to offer a direct portal into what it's like to be part of a team, in this case the Princeton men's basketball team. And there's no way to watch the video and see that they are having anything other than an amazing time.

There's still one game to be played for the Tigers, and the basketball end of a trip like this is huge, what with extra practices and competitions.

But it's not really what the trip is about.

No, it's mostly about the cultural, educational and social opportunities that the Tigers are being exposed to during their 10 days in Spain.

From TB's seat 5,000 miles away, the Tigers are taking full advantage.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The United Nations announced earlier this year that the world's population has just crossed seven billion. We passed six billion just 13 years ago and five billion 25 years ago.

If you combine those three figures, you might triangulate a number of, say, 10 billion people who have been born since air travel became practical for the masses in the 1950s. I'm guessing two percent of that population has actually boarded a plane, yielding a numerator around 200 million. That seems to roughly square with 3% of the 7 billion people alive now or, put another way, two-thirds of the current population in the US.

An airline association estimates that 80% of Americans have never flown, but I think that's intentionally low (to imply more potential for revenue growth), because one-quarter of Americans own a passport, which probably is a proximate floor for the number who have flown.

The Population Reference Bureau estimates that, since homo sapiens arrived on the scene somewhere between 50,000 and 200,000 years ago, about 107 billion have been born.

So my back of the envelope guess is that 200 million divided by 107 billion, or maybe two-tenths of one percent, of all people ever born has flown on a plane.