Originally published on 1 Sep, 2013 on Sportskeeda
To a layman’s eye, a cricket and football field just requires a flat surface, ideally with grass growing. A basketball court simply requires a flat surface without undulations on which you can bounce a ball. The turf on which cricket and football ought to be played are of a different level than the fields we find littered around. And the floor on which basketball ought to be played is quite a different animal than a ‘simple, flat surface.’
“When it’s played the way it’s supposed to be played, basketball happens in the air; flying, floating, elevated above the floor, levitating the way oppressed peoples of this earth imagine themselves in their dreams.” – said author John Edgar Wideman. Born to fly. The air up there. Air Jordan. With the amount of gravity-defying superlatives attached to basketball, it’s easy to forget the importance of the surface you’re playing on when your feet are on the ground.
As a player who prides himself on hustling all over the court, I’m especially envious of those playing basketball on smooth courts. They slip and slide with impunity as kids on water slides. As anyone who’s played basketball in India will attest to, here in India falling down on a basketball court equals a tetanus shot, unless you are lucky enough to be playing on proper artificial turf. One may reason that a softer court will absorb the bounce of the basketball more. After all, streetball is played on the raw concretes across the hoods with chain linked nets hanging off the rim. Softer surfaces don’t necessarily have to translate to a softer bounce. The softness affords considerable traction for the human body and is extremely forgiving on the joints. Jumping, switching directions, twisting and turning are all easier on these surfaces.
Where there’s no choice, one must adapt. But today, the top schools have ample resources to construct a proper ground. It’s a different story when it comes to medium and low income schools, but the upper tier schools should not compromise on student’s safety. The problem is that they do. The problem is that schools look upon a renovation of a court with improved flooring as a luxury, and not a upgrade for the sake of safety.
I’ve written here about the factors which FIBA suggests should go into consideration while building an outdoor basketball court. Now here are 5 reasons why schools should spend on refurbishing their courts:
Basketball is the fastest sport in the world played on foot. With all that sprinting, leaping, bouncing and colliding of ten strong bodies, there is an enormous potential for destructive injuries. Ankle sprains, bone contusions, concussions – the gruesome list goes on. At least some of those injuries can be kept at bay if one were to play on a safe surface. A school assumes responsibility for the well being of the children, it is a worthwhile investment for them to consider an artificial basketball turf.
When you are running, jumping and dribbling on a surface which is especially designed to aid you in doing that, it will make a difference in your game. You will find that you can change directions with a bit more ease, landings are less taxing on the legs, the ball seems more responsive off the bounce, and there are a lot more intangibles which you have to experience. Schools ought to provide children with ideal facilities which can help them develop.
Be acclimated to international standards
Our top players and coaches have lamented the lack of international and indoor courts in India. When they go abroad to compete, they have to adjust to playing on a surface they are not accustomed to. Even the best players in India played for a school at some point. Now a school like Don Bosco at Matunga, Mumbai plays host to national level tournaments in India. On those occasions, they install an artificial surface on the court. So, if a school would happen to have a proper artificial turf, it could even be used for hosting high level competitions.
Artificial basketball turf has a different tint to it. Just looking at it lets you know that you are gazing at the real deal. Schools place an emphasis on marketing their offerings in order to market themselves better. Having a prime piece of real estate like a basketball court with artificial turf on it can be quite a selling point.
Prevent water logging
Certain artificial courts are designed to allow water to flow underneath the upper surface and drain away. This prevents the court from getting soggy and saves the players the bother of having to mop the ground before playing. It also increases the longevity of the court. If you are investing in quality turf, chances are that it will have a provision for water runoff. This will reduce the maintenance costs for the school and reduce the chances of injury from players slipping on soggy surfaces.