(Courtesy of JMUSports.com)
I get it. There are more than 350 Division I basketball programs, and the 220 or so that don't have Division I-A (get that FBS stuff out of here) football have an uphill battle in terms of growing their brand and awareness of their programs.
All that doesn't mean you have to make your court look ridiculous, and not in a novel way, either.
James Madison is the latest program to publicize a court design overhaul, this one coming after the school welcomed submissions on a design. And, with all due respect to the people involved in the final decision, it's not good.
The Dukes have chosen to overemphasize their cartoonish dog logo to an extraordinary degree. Each of the two takes up most of the inside of a three-point arc and also extends outside the boundary of play. Additionally, every person in the arena and watching on TV has to look at one of them upside-down (or both of them sideways), which is extremely distracting.
They also have chosen to brand "JMU" at center court and on the baselines, which are seen way more during a telecast then the sideline "James Madison"s will be. This is consistent with the way the university appears to want to brand itself but seems like a missed opportunity for casual viewers flipping through channels.
The comment in the press release from longtime JMU supporter Becky Taylor, whose submission was used as the basis for the final design, underscores the current (somewhat curious) athletics mentality.
"The floor is a marketing tool in so many ways," noted Taylor, who frequently participates in graphic design contests and described being ‘ecstatic’ at the chance to participate in the JMU floor process." It attracts new young recruits, gets media attention and is seen by many. For example, when I saw the Boise State football field for the first time, I stopped and watched. The field design was intriguing, outside of the norm, and it made me pay attention. This court will do the same thing. It will make people stop and watch."
I'm not advocating that every home court look like the super-bland NCAA Tournament court design
, or has to be as pure as the floor in the Palestra
(although that would be nice [/oldmancomment]). And maybe high schoolers will grow up dreaming to nail 17-foot jumpers from the collar of a cartoon dog. I just think, in a growing world of matte helmets and hideous alternate uniforms, not all attention is good attention. We all stopped and talked about the Dukes today, but not necessarily in a way that is favorable for the school.