Columnist Examines Branding Capabilities Of Basketball Courts For Colleges, NCAA
Universities, college conferences and "even the NCAA itself, increasingly see the basketball court as one of the last, untapped frontiers for image making," according to John Branch of the N.Y. TIMES. Mountain West Conference Senior Associate Commissioner Dan Butterly said, “There’s a lot of focus on branding. It’s so important, especially with all the recent conference realignment. Programs want to stand out and brand who they are. And the basketball court is one way to do that.” Branch writes teams have "always identified themselves with colors and mascots." But universities like Boise State, with its "bright-blue football field, and Oregon, with its Nike-designed basketball court intended to look like a forest of fir trees, have shown others that the biggest opportunities may be right under their feet." The recent trend of "turning basketball courts into multihued artwork can trace its roots back about 15 years, when colleges seized the floor as a medium for promoting both themselves and their corporate sponsors." The NCAA until recent years "used the courts already in place in arenas" for the NCAA Tournament, but it since has used "its own design -- courts uniformly adorned with little more than a thick black border and a blue NCAA logo, with a splashier version for the Final Four." The NCAA Women's Tournament meanwhile "has created Final Four courts with giant, colorful creations, meant to be remembered." The intent of court designs is to "gain notice, especially on television." ESPN Senior Coordinating Producer Jay Levy said that the various patterns and colors "did not affect the production of a telecast until recently." The past two seasons, ESPN "has used complex 'virtual' graphics overlaid atop half of the court, to show statistics such as shooting percentages from parts of the floor." Levy said, "We noticed that we had to take into consideration those elements on the court" (N.Y. TIMES, 3/20).