College Hoops kicked off the 2011-2012 season in memorable fashion, as North Carolina knocked off Michigan State 67-55 in the Carrier Classic, a game that was played on Veterans Day aboard the USS Carl Vinson and attended by the Obamas.
It was, quite frankly, an awesome sight to see basketball getting played as the sunset over the Pacific Ocean. The game was an event, so much so that I can’t tell you off the top of my head much more than the final score, but I can tell you that some of the images of the game will forever be burned into my memory.
That said, there is one moment that sticks out in my mind: talented Spartan freshman Branden Dawson went down in a heap in the first half after taking a nasty fall as the result of slipping on the Quickens Loans sticker at center court. “We’ve got to get rid of those logos in the middle of the court,” Michigan State’s Tom Izzo said after the game. “We can put logos other places. I’ll wear logos to support the people who sponsor us. They can paint me. But we have to get rid of the logos for the safety of the players.”
Just a couple of days later, the officials forced Memphis to take the decals off the floor of the FedEx Forum during an opening round game for the Maui Invitational due to the players slipping. There has been a push to disallow sponsors putting their logos down on the floor, and it looks like a change is on its way to being made:
Citing temporary decals and logos that may cause players to slip, the Men’s and Women’s Basketball Rules Committees are recommending a rules change that requires the court be “of a consistent surface” so student-athlete safety is not compromised.
The committees believe most surfaces already are in compliance, but no rule exists requiring a consistent surface. In some cases, temporary decals can create a difference on the floor that may cause players to lose their footing.
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.”
Dunne said the committees have talked about this change in the past.
“Sometimes it takes a high-profile event to make a rules change,” Dunne added. “But we don’t want to sit back and wait for injuries to happen and then pass the rule.”
All proposals for a rule change must be approved by the Playing Rules Oversight Panel. They are scheduled to meet June 12th on a conference call. This isn’t a rule change year (the rules are changed every other year), but since this change involves the safety of the student-athletes, it may get pushed through.
The stickers on the court are dangerous. Players slip, and when they slip moving at the speed these athletes move, bodies bend in ways they are not designed to bend. Don’t wait for someone’s career to be hindered — or ended — by a catastrophic knee injury to make a change.
I understand the need for the decals. These events need people to invest to happen. The investors look for a return on their money through advertising and sponsorship, and what better way to do it than to have everyone that is watching the game stare at the name of the company for two hours. Eliminate that, and we won’t get events like the Carrier Classic or the Champion’s Classic or the Coaches vs. Cancer Classic — all those made-for-TV, early-season non-conference battles — taking place. No one wants that.
But no one wants to see kids get hurt.
There is an easy way to fix this problem.
During conference tournament play, ESPN was able to superimpose a shot clock onto the court. Every channel that broadcasts a football game puts that yellow line down to let the viewer’s know how far away the first down marker is. Why can’t we do this with the sponsors?
How hard would it be to get a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup logo digitally placed at the head of the key?
The advertisers still pay, the TV viewers still see the ads and we don’t after to worry about a kid blowing an ACL over a few dollars for a guy in a suit that probably has no idea who is even playing in the game.