This is a design that Northwestern University is contemplating adopting for the 2011-2012 basketball season.
Let’s take a quick UK break to address a problem plaguing the college sports landscape even worse than free tattoos and impermissible phone calls during AAU tournaments. As some of you may know, I’m going into my junior year at Northwestern. I came to Northwestern because of the journalism school, but also because I knew that I could continue to root for UK without feeling like I betrayed my school. Don’t get me wrong, I’m a Northwestern football and basketball fan, but the culture here isn’t anywhere close to what UK has in either sport. It’s especially easy to support NU in basketball. We’re the only team in a Big Six conference to have never made the NCAA tournament. The bubble is cause for excitement in Evanston.
Now, Northwestern is making an effort to further its status as a laughingstock by laying down a purple court. It’s a trend that started in college athletics after the dawn of the Boise State blue turf 1986. In the past few years it has picked up even more. Eastern Washington has a red turf football field, Towson has tiger stripes on their basketball court and Oregon has a silly looking forest for their basketball team. Northwestern could be the next school to join in this ridiculous fraternity and, subsequently, rob themselves of any potential good in the case of an NCAA tournament berth. I should note that it isn’t a done deal yet. Northwestern is holding an open vote between four different court options. However, this choice has obviously garnered the most media attention and in the realm of Northwestern basketball, any media attention at all may outweigh a vote on a Facebook page.
The gimmicks have just gone too far. Say Northwestern gets this court and then, a few years down the road, makes the NCAA tournament for the first time in school history. Everything about that moment will be underscored by the fact that NU is the team with the purple court. It’s a problem that we as UK fans don’t have to deal with because our passion is focused on the team and the games played, but when will gimmicks start to work their way into even the way our team operates? If Nike says that UK could do with a blue court, who’s to say the brand won’t win out?
Boise State’s field was determined a competitive advantage by the Mountain West Conference when the Broncos wear their all blue uniforms, so for home games in-conference, those uniforms are no longer allowed. At some point will the quality of the game be lessened in favor of those elements surrounding it? I’m not really worried about it as a UK fan, but when Jarrod Polson starts shooting off the t-shirt cannon at halftime, I may change my tune.