The NCAA has an image problem in more ways than one.
But the most annoying aspect of one area in particular will flood our TV screens again over the next two weeks. It already popped up on the screen during the First Four, much to my dismay. The specialized courts are anything but special -- and have to go. Almost everybody agrees, right? This was change for the worse, change for change's sake without a thought to identity, personality or creativity with court designs.
Part of the NCAA tournament's cosmetic charm has been stripped away since 2008, and it's about time we put up a storm over these courts. It's not even like the design of these decks are all that attractive, either.
This might seem a trivial pursuit toward change, but, really, I ask: Does any one person actually prefer these black-and-blue monotonous slabs to the character and distinction that the tournament had for so long? When I think of Tyus Edney in 1995, I can't help but picture Boise State's court. The same goes for Kentucky-Duke in '92 with the spectrum at The Spectrum. Richard Hamilton in Greensboro's seafoam green. Mike Miller on Wake Forest's court in 2000 and Oakland's hideous all-black design that was the stage for Northwestern State's buzzer-beater against Iowa seven years ago also go hand-in-hand with those memories.
I don't even need to hyperlink those videos or images because I know you can picture them, too.
The NCAA made the change to having a custom floor at every site a half decade ago. I say "custom," yet they're all the same. "THE ROAD TO THE FINAL FOUR" is blocked out in white along the black sideline. There is the bland NCAA logo at midcourt, some half circles of blue for the top of the key and the baselines have a darker blue that contrasts with the black to tell viewers what city this game is being beamed from. But it's hard to read.
And it's dumb to have.
The NCAA needs to ditch these designs after this year. They've had their test run, but enough. An actual issue beyond what's on the surface: It's problematic for TV viewers sometimes, because it can take a minute to realize what game you're on. It's innately confusing. Yes, I know the score indicates that. But there's a quicker immediacy to seeing a court and knowing right then and there where the game is. Now, with four channels at viewers' disposal, sorry, but it's easy to confuse. What is the point of this?
|The road should feature much more charm. (USATSI)|
It's some of the worst marketing, really. I'm here in Salt Lake City and took a moment to step out on the floor between practice sessions. It's fine. Sturdy. A good hunk of wood. But, man, do I really hate it.
So I'm suggesting the NCAA do one of two things:
A) Go back to having each court be the original floor of the arena where the game is being played. Nothing wrong with that. It's a bonus for the sites/arenas hosting -- a nice little boost -- and again, it adds genuine character to the broadcast.
B) If any sort of theme or custom court must be continued, then vary it up. Have different design colors. An orange baseline for one, a green here, a brown there and a yellow for another. Eight sites leave plenty of room for color options. You can also have a logo (opposite of the American ribbon seen in the picture above) with a graphic, something emblematic of the city or program where the games are taking place. That'd be neat.
Ultimately what happens on these courts is so much more important than the courts themselves, but why intentionally stay with something so stale?
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