NCAA moves to ditch court decals

May, 15, 2012
5/15/12
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We can disagree on many things. You dislike "Girls." I think it's kind of incredible. You don't play video games. I am deciding whether to buy "Max Payne 3," "Diablo III," or both. You like Dwyane Wade. I think his game (pivot, head fake, draw foul, strut) is infuriating. Different strokes, different folks. It's all good.

With that said, there is at least one thing we will not -- cannot -- disagree on: sponsorship stickers on basketball courts.

Nobody likes those things. Every November and December, they clutter college basketball's neutral courts and exempt tournaments, advertising things like time-specific energy dosage and car parts. Which would be all well and good, I guess, were the decals relatively harmless. They aren't. The stickers are a different surface from the court -- they have a slick plastic-y feel, as opposed to the smooth traction of finished wood -- and each and every season we see a handful of players slip on them, threatening injuries both minor and serious. They are a scourge, these stickers, and they need to be destroyed.

Good news is the NCAA agrees. Last week, the NCAA Men's and Women's Basketball Rules Committees decided to recommend a rules change requiring all courts to be "of a consistent surface." From Monday's NCAA basketball rules committee release:
Members of both committees, which conducted their annual meeting May 6-8 in Indianapolis, agreed that “the playing court must be completely finished in a manner that is consistent throughout.”

This rules change does not restrict the use of decals, but it does make clear that those marks must be similar to the rest of the court. This includes the three-foot sideline and restricted area behind the baseline. [...]

Rules committee members cited times they’ve seen players slip on areas not consistent with the rest of the court. They are suggesting that any additional logos or decals have the same kind of traction as the rest of the floor.

“The safety of our student-athletes has to come before anything else,” said John Dunne, the chair of the men’s basketball rules committee and coach at St. Peter’s. “We’re seeing players slip on the non-consistent parts of the floor too many times.”

It should be noted that this is merely a recommendation. The NCAA rules committee merely floats rules changes to the Playing Rules Oversight Panel, which can reject or approve recommendations. The oversight panel will meet via conference call June 12, according to the release. Bureaucratic processes aside, though, it's hard to imagine the NCAA not eventually ratifying this idea. Is there anyone who could conceivably disagree? Anyone who wants to stand up for the rights of slippery, potentially dangerous sticker-makers the world over?

Didn't think so. We're all of us -- fans, players, coaches, the NCAA, everyone -- on the same page. That doesn't happen often, but I'm glad it's the case here. High-five, everyone!

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