— FIBA (@FIBA) July 23, 2023
FIBA, the world governing body for international basketball, has made some waves in the past few days by unveiling a glass LED court surface for the 2023 U19 Women’s Basketball World Cup in Madrid. As you can see in the promotional video embedded above, the court’s LED capabilities allow for various graphics, patterns, animations, and — of course — advertisements to be rotated in and out at the push of a button.
Is this where basketball court design is heading? Will we soon see this type of surface installed at NBA or even NCAA arenas? And if so, what do we think about that?
A few thoughts:
- Leaving aside the aesthetic issues, I’d be interested to know how players feel about this new court surface. Does the ball bounce differently on it? Do sneakers grip it differently? Does it offer less “give” when a player falls? Do the changing LED graphics affect performance by distracting the players?
- Personally, I like the look of a wooden floor. There’s something organic about it that I find grounding. But I’m a 59-year-old white guy, and basketball has long been about razzle-dazzle, not organic earthiness, so I realize that my preferences here may not be in sync with the sport’s zeitgeist.
- Similarly, I think I’d find the shifting graphics distracting. But maybe today’s younger fans, weaned on video games and TikTok, would have no problem with it.
- I’m assuming that an electronic LED court is more expensive than a wooden one. But in the long run, it’s probably cheaper, because you can endlessly reconfigure it — no more need for separate primary, City, and throwback courts.
- The elephant in the room, of course, is the ability to up the advertising ante. Of course, the NBA already has digital ads projected onto the court (which in at least one case has led to a team having to eliminate one of its uniforms), but an LED surface would likely lead to an advertising bonanza — ugh.
One thing’s for sure: If the NCAA goes this route, we will no longer see bacon smoked over court scraps.