Thursday, August 30, 2012

Long Beach State's New Court Design Finds Successful Middle Ground

LBSU's new beach-themed court (

College basketball courts aren’t just backdrops to competition anymore. The design of light-wood-colored floors, easily distinguished boundary lines and the school’s symbol at mid-court doesn’t cut it for some schools.

Schools have taken the college football craze of creative and whacky jerseys and applied it to their basketball courts. Along with Oregon’s dozen football jersey combinations, in 2010 the school turned its court into a forest. 

Oregon's forest-covered court (

The designer of the court also created mockups for eight others schools, all being visually over-the-top. If these designs become reality, players will not only have to worry about trap defenses, but also worry about weeding through palm trees, the bayou and a giant Colonel Sanders. Towson went a slightly less aggressive route but failed by putting subtle tiger stripes on its floor, which from a distance looks like a grease spill.

This brings us to the new court of Long Beach State, which should be congratulated for finding middle ground between the extreme and the mundane. The court shows off the culture of the school and area without making the court an eyesore. Automatically, even non-basketball fans can assume this court is in California, and the combination of the school's colors and "The Beach" written in the middle give the perfect relationship between school branding and environment.

A school’s court is a brand, just like its jerseys and apparel, and it makes sense why programs would want to be unique. Seeing blue turf is automatically associated with Boise State football, and for Boise, that’s a great thing. But it is still just a basketball court, and when the look of the court takes fans’ eyes away from the action of the game, is the purpose successful?

Sure, the school doesn’t want there to be a question of where the game is being played. It is, after all, the team’s home floor, and should reflect as much. But the large, orange “S” at mid-court of the Carrier Dome at Syracuse University or the cutout of the state of North Carolina at UNC’s Dean Dome do a sufficient job of acknowledging where the game is taking place. Painting UNC’s court to look like it is covered in tobacco smoke isn’t necessary.

LBSU now has a surface that stands out among its opponents and honors the geography of the school. It will now be distinguished and remembered among the national audience, but for the right reasons. It took a piece of the surroundings to transform its hoops sanctuary, and players probably enjoy leaving the palm trees outside the complex for the trees on the court.

The key is to take a piece of the school or environment and incorporate it into the court, not the entire landscape. 

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