Wednesday, June 13, 2012
Good riddance to slippery court stickers
By Eamonn Brennan
One month ago, the NCAA Men's and Women's Basketball Rules Committee emerged from their mid-May meetings with an entirely welcome recommendation: The sticker decals peppering courts at neutral-site events and exempt tournaments -- typically displaying the given event's sponsors -- were dangerous to players and needed to go. Instead, all such decals needed to be "of a consistent surface" with the rest of the hardwood.
Per the NCAA's confusing bureaucratic protocol, the recommendation was just that -- a recommendation. The NCAA Playing Rules Oversight Panel, the body responsible for actually changing rules, still needed to approve and enact the measure. Good news: That's exactly what happened Tuesday.
According to an NCAA release Wednesday afternoon, the Playing Rules Oversight Panel (alphabet-soup acronym: PROP) mandated that any NCAA basketball court "must be completely finished in a manner that is consistent throughout." The rule doesn't specifically restrict the use of decals and logos, but it does essentially require that any such logos be painted on the court. Host game management will be responsible for ensuring this is the case, including on the sidelines and baselines out of bounds. If not, game officials have the ability to suspend games until the court can be brought up to shape. The rules committees have "asked NCAA staff to work with appropriate facility managers and court manufacturers to provide resources and best practices to the membership," according to the release.
The reaction to this measure is pretty straightforward: It's a good thing! Duh, right? Players wearing shoes designed for hardwood found themselves navigating surfaces -- some of which included the entire center circle and then some -- that didn't catch rubber soles, but instead caused players to slip and slide in and out of their cuts. Anyone can get hurt in a basketball game, but there is zero reason to introduce extra injury risk, least of all for the sake of easier sponsorship adaptation.
In the meantime, bureaucratic quips aside, let's extend a big round of applause to the NCAA. It is not an organization known for speedy rules changes in the first place, and this year is actually an off-year for large scale rules changes, but because player safety was involved, the rules committees recommended and enacted the rule in something close to record time. This was an obvious change, and it was treated as such.
It may have been a no-brainer, but it was a no-brainer for very good reason. The NCAA got it done, the frighteningly slippery auto parts stickers are on their way out, and we can all rejoice in a world made just a tiny bit more sensible today. Good stuff.