This weekend is the first weekend of the NCAA men's basketball tournament, colloquially known as "March Madness." The first weekend is one of the most compelling events in all of sports: 48 games, all around the country, over the course of 4 days. There are upsets, near-upsets, and millions of people follow it all with their brackets predictions in hand. Great stuff.
I have to admit I don't follow it like I used to. Maybe it's just because I'm getting old and I remember all those previous years' tournaments and they all seem the same. Maybe it's because I'm married and now my definition of "must-see TV" has changed.
One of the reasons for me that the tournament is not as interesting as it used to be is the generic floor with the giant blue NCAA logo in the middle they install in every venue. I remember when I was a kid one of my favorite parts of the tournament was to see the different floor designs in the various arenas. You could tell where the game was and who was playing just by looking at the floor and your tournament bracket. These days you can't tell where the game is until the camera pans all the way to the left baseline and you see the city's name printed.
In addition to being boring, think of how expensive that is. Not sure exactly how much a new basketball floor costs, but I'm sure it's not cheap. And the floor can't really be used for anything else, unless you re-paint it after the games are over.
Basketball arenas are kind of nondescript, especially on the inside. They're not like football stadiums or especially baseball parks, where individuality is part of the game. The floor is the only distinctive element in the building. Would it make any difference in the quality of play? No, of course not. But it would make it more interesting on TV, and let's face it: that's what the tournament is all about anyway. Plenty of arenas across the country have unique floors, and I think the NCAA should showcase them rather than keeping them in pieces in a closet while they roll out a boring brown and blue thing.