In the pantheon of great ideas: central air, the mute button, B.Y.O.B., "no assembly required," and Jackie MacMullan's epiphany for Sept. 21, 2013, not necessarily in that order.
Gotcha with the last one. Mostly because Sept. 21, 2013 has yet to occur. But when it does, Connecticut College will benefit from enhanced coffers and cachet.
MacMullan's daughter, Aly Boyle, is a senior on the women's basketball team at Conn. Problem: The team needs money for a tournament in Daytona later this season. Solution: MacMullan, a writer for espn.com and panelist on "Around The Horn," created an evening of "Boston vs. New York" discourse for New London.
And so Sept. 21 in the 1962 Room on campus, "A Night With ESPN's Best" will serve as a boffo fundraiser for the women's basketball trip. Boston Globe alum Bob Ryan of the "Sports Reporters" and Stephen A. Smith of "First Take" will debate the merits of Boston and New York here from the demilitarized zone.
There's a live auction, too, including Mike Barnicle's front row seats at Fenway Park with hotel, dinner, on-field pre-game VIP tour and signed jersey; the ESPN Suite for a Knicks game at Madison Square Garden; tickets to various other Boston and New York sporting events; a concert and suite at the TD Garden; Shaquille O'Neal's signed Los Angeles Laker jersey; a Mohegan Sun concert and hotel package; a signed basketball from Jim Calhoun and four tickets to a UConn game and more.
The event runs from 6-10 p.m. Advance tickets, $35 for adults and $25 for students - or $100 for a VIP reception from 5-6 p.m. that includes entry to the main event - are available at www.camelathletics.com. Go to the women's basketball page and click on the giant "ESPN" link. Tickets purchased at the door are $50.
"Aly and her friends were talking about doing a trip," MacMullan was saying during a recent phone interview. "It was pretty clear the money wasn't there. So we talked to Brian (Conn women's coach Brian Wilson) about some fundraising ideas and came up with this idea. Conn is right in the middle."
As are the rest of us. We are sports Switzerland when it comes to Boston and New York. Now we'll be able to hear two gentlemen MacMullan admits "never have a shortage of things to say" ponder …
Central Park or Brad Park?
The Patriot Way or Broadway?
Derek Sanderson or Derek Sanderson Jeter?
The Gronk or the Bronx?
Oh, the possibilities.
For us and the school.
"I'd never heard of Connecticut College until my daughter started looking at where she might want to go," MacMullan said. "It's got to be one of the most beautiful campuses in the country. A hidden gem. So after everything else, I hope this raises a little awareness for the school, too."
MacMullan, who attends many Conn women's basketball games, worked with athletic director Fran Shields to make this happen. She cannot thank Ryan, Smith, moderator Tony Reale (also from "Around the Horn") and the Conn staff enough.
It helps that it's hard to find another media person anywhere who commands more universal respect. Everyone likes Jackie MacMullan. This from a business with the unwritten rule, "If you don't have anything nice to say, say it louder."
If you don't know MacMullan once received the Curt Gowdy Award from the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame for her contribution to basketball, she'll be the last one to remind you.
Same concept with Aly.
"We became friends pretty fast. We lived on the same floor and kind of bonded," fellow Conn senior Patty Shields of East Lyme once said of Boyle. "It took kind of a while to realize who Aly's mom is. You'd never know by talking to her."
Shields, the daughter of Fran Shields, said, "My dad asked me if Aly ever talks about sports. I said, 'no, not really.' He said, 'Do you know who her mom is?' After we all found out, now we make fun of Aly when we're in the gym and her mom comes on TV."
So now you know there's more than one reason to visit Conn on Sept. 21. Good idea, good debate, good people. Can't wait.
This is the opinion of Day sports columnist Mike DiMauro.