January 14, 2011
If USC coach Kevin O'Neill had the urge to cover his eyes to avoid watching his team's discouraging 68-62 loss to last-place Oregon on Thursday night, he can at least take solace that he wasn't alone.
The above photo offers a glimpse of the blinding reflection visible throughout the first-ever game at the $237 million arena built to replace venerable MacArthur Court. Add in the fact that the ribbon board changed color from white to yellow to green to blue every few seconds, and it made watching the game feel like staring into a strobe light.
Hard as it may be to believe, complaints over the glare actually overshadowed reaction to the unveiling of Oregon's crazy new basketball floor. The court is framed on all sides by a forest of brown-and-tan fir trees, an homage to the school's picturesque Pacific Northwest setting and to Oregon's 1939 national title team nicknamed "The Tall Firs."
Like the famed blue "Smurf Turf" at Boise State's football stadium, Oregon's forest floor is meant to be an iconic design that will immediately be recognizable to TV viewers nationwide. The design already generated buzz this summer and will surely draw more attention in the coming weeks.
Considering how much thought went into everything from the steeply tiered seats to the duck's epic entrance from the rafters to the "Deep In the Woods" slogan on the floor, it's tough to believe nobody bothered to check how the court would look on TV. Whether that's true or whether somebody just signed off on the TV image too quickly, that's a pretty brutal oversight.
They probably couldn't see it from their courtside seat, yet it had to be visible from their monitors. And even if it wasn't, a kind producer might have pointed out one of the dozens of complaints popping up on Twitter throughout the telecast.
Besides the glare, TV viewers were also unhappy with the camouflage mid-court stripe and 3-point lines. In its zeal to protect the integrity of its flashy design, it seems Nike neglected functionality by not creating enough contrast for a television audience to view any of those lines.
All these complaints are minor enough that Oregon should be able to solve them with minimal trouble.
What's a shame is that they detracted from a memorable Oregon victory in the grand opening of one of America's iconic new college basketball arenas.
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