- Eamonn Brennan, ESPN Staff Writer
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Fancy silhouetted court designs are all the rage these days and, as with most garish collegiate sports-related designs, we can safely blame Oregon. The Ducks' "Tall Firs" court at Matthew Knight Arena was groundbreaking when it was unveiled two years ago. It incorporated advanced design principles, local flavor and program history onto what has traditionally been a utilitarian surface.
Of course, the Ducks' design actually came at the expense of the court's utility; until a revision, it didn't even have a visible half-court line. It is also distracting at best (the lights of Matthew Knight combine with the floor to produce more lens flare than a J.J. Abrams film) and ugly at worst (your mileage may vary).
And, predictably enough, exactly none of the above has stopped other teams from trying to capture the branding benefits of loud court designs.
The latest to join the fray is George Washington, which on Monday unveiled a new design for its court at the Charles E. Smith Center. The design, which you can see a larger version of here, adds artistic silhouettes of the the Washington Monument, United States Capitol and White House to the floor, as well as a few pomp-y flags and stars. There is also a hashtag on the proposed design -- "#RaiseHigh" -- which, as the Washington Post's Sarah Kogod notes, could be especially interesting given the NCAA's recent ban of promotional hashtags on football fields. (This is one NCAA rule I think we can all fully support. The world has enough hashtags already.)
So, is George Washington's court awesome? Ugly? Art is a subjective and egalitarian thing, so I won't foist my judgement upon you. But at the very least, GW's design does communicate what it wants to communicate, which, apparently, is to remind people that George Washington is in fact located in Washington, D.C.:
"After our graduating students and student-athletes enjoyed their Commencement ceremony on the National Mall yesterday, unveiling this spectacular new floor design today further emphasizes our campus setting in the heart of D.C.," said Director of Athletics and Recreation Patrick Nero in a release Monday. "When people around the world are watching our games, we want them to immediately recognize and understand the university's unique setting in the middle of the action in this world-class city."
Mission accomplished, right?
Fancy silhouetted court designs are all the rage these days and, as with most garish collegiate sports-related designs, we can safely blame Oregon. The Ducks' "Tall Firs" court at Matthew Knight Arena was groundbreaking when it was unveiled two years ago.