PolymerFilms On and Off the Court

This month is every college basketball fan’s favorite season. Beginning March 15th, the NCAA (National Collegiate Athletic Association) will reveal the 68 college Division I Men’s Basketball teams who will be competing in the fan-famous tournament, March Madness, for 2020. After that, the tournament officially (and quite literally) tips off with the First Four games played on the first Tuesday and Wednesday of the NCAA tournament. And from there, the madness of the game only increases (see what we did there?)

Here is this season’s schedule:

March 15: Selection Sunday at 6 PM on CBS
March 17 – 18: First Four
March 19 – 20: NCAA Tournament Round 1
March 21 – 22: NCAA Tournament Round 2
March 26 – 27: Sweet 16
March 28 – 29: Elite 8
April 4: Final Four
April 6: 2020 NCAA National Championship


A Brief History Lesson

1939: First March Madness tournament between the Oregon Ducks and Ohio State. Oregon wins 46-33.

1951: March Madness is expanded to a 16-team tournament.

1985: The field is expanded to the modern 64 team format.

2001: A single game is added prior to the first round, totaling the format to 65 teams. 

2011: 3 more teams are added, rounding out the First Four and bringing the tournament’s format to a total of 65 teams.

The term “March Madness” was coined by CBS broadcaster, Brent Musburger, when he was covering the 1982 tournament. 

Plastics in Basketball

Regardless of who you’ll be rooting for this March, there’s one thing we can all agree on during the madness: the fascinating ways that plastic affects the game of basketball. Its durability and cost-effectiveness allows for the material to be favored over glass and other materials. You can see plastic film and plastic sheet substrates throughout the three most essential parts that make the game of basketball what it is – the court, the basketball, and the player. 


The Court

Since 2006, Connor Sports, a Gerflor company, has been the Official Court Supplier of the NCAA and its March Madness tournament. Between a combination of talent, an enormous amount of planning, and lots of practice, its highly-experienced team of 20 individuals are able to get a court built in just a matter of hours. 

Each year, Connor Sports works directly with the NCAA to design and build the March Madness courts, with its major project being the Final Four court. In 2019, the two collaborated together to design and build the Men’s and Women’s Final Four courts, as well as the eight regional courts for the earlier rounds of the March Madness tournament.

Did you know that nearly 130,000 SQ FT of basketball courts are installed during the March Madness tournament? That’s nearly 2.5 football fields. The men’s Final Four alone are a grand 9,800 SQ FT. 

These courts exemplify the Multi-Purpose court type (see below). They run 70 FT x 140 FT and are comprised of 397 northern maple hardwood QuickLock panels weighing at 188 lbs per panel. These panels are transported to the destination of the game and assembled onsite. Connor Sports uses sources premium materials, ensuring optimal wood moisture content and stability. These materials often include first grade hardwood maple strips, dimensioned softwood sleepers, smooth-sanded plywood sheets, col-rolled steel, tongues, high-impact polypropylene groove receivers, and premium finishing materials (often including a high-gloss polyurethane finish that provides dirt resistance and extreme grip capabilities). Even cooler, the winning team has the option to purchase the customized court after the game. Talk about a slam dunk! 

As mentioned before, the NCAA often uses the Multi-Purpose court type during the tournament, as there is a lot of travel that requires custom courts to follow teams along. However, there are two other popular court types seen in the game of basketball, both which have included plastics in its structures.

As the most popular surface seen in indoor basketball courts, the hardwood surface provides exceptional durability and requires little maintenance. Maple is the most common flooring used in this application because it is a dense wood with fine fibers, which makes it difficult to splinter and avoids wearing and tearing quicker. As seen above, this flooring is often seen in premier NCAA arenas, as well as most NBA stadiums. While an extremely effective surface for indoor basketball, the hardwood material should not be used outside due to different weather conditions. 

Asphalt / Concrete

The most common court where most basketball players dribbled their first basketballs and made their first shots. Whether at a neighborhood park or your own driveway, standard asphalt remains to be the most common outdoor basketball court because of its strength and ability to withstand harsh weather conditions. However, these weather conditions (and normal wear & tear) can lead to the asphalt cracking and chipping. While strong and durable, this harsh surface can cause for a more serious injury than that of an indoor court, depending on how the player lands on it. 


 Some manufacturers are known to create basketball courts from multi-purpose plastic flooring. This surface begins with a smooth slab of concrete (creating a sturdy foundation) and is topped with modular polypropylene squares that snapped together in customized shapes and designs. Because it is plastic, the floor design offers excellent traction, a reliable ball bounce, and enhanced safety for the player. Some multi-purpose courts may include advanced features to enhance playability, such as a rubber layer that increases shock absorption and sound dampening, often put between the concrete foundation and polypropylene plastic surface. Another common feature includes a polyurethane finish (as seen on the NCAA) the enhance durability and moisture resistance. This glossy urethane is what gives the basketball court its shiny appearance. 
Basketball Court Designs

Another important aspect to the basketball court are the physical designs we often see on the floor. We’re talking game lines, team logos, sponsor advertisements, etc… Basically, the parts of the basketball court that make it custom to the team(s) playing the game you’ll be watching. 

In 2012, the NCAA’s panel, “Playing Rules Oversight Panel”, declared that all designs on the court be painted. For years, decals and on-court stickers were proving to be too dangerous for the players, as they would often trip, slip, and injure themselves. As if that wasn’t a big enough reason, the on-court stickers weren’t completely sticking, or were way to slipper when walked upon, rendering them ineffective on the court. When allowed, these decals were typically digitally printed onto a clear or white polyvinyl material and applied to the basketball court surface. 

The paint used for the game lines, graphics, and sponsor ads are often made up of 100% acrylic. Once the glossy polyurethane is coated and cured onto the court surface, painters’ tape is laid down, acting as a stencil for the basketball court artists. These designs are then filled in with the paint and finished off with a few more coats of polyurethane, leaving them as a permanent mark to the court.

Hoop There It Is
We’re talking about the vessel that’s responsible for the scoring of the game and the way the players, well, play. Like the court itself, there are different types of basketball hoops players may see throughout their basketball careers. There are stand-alone hoops, wall-mount hoops, hoops with glass backboards, and hoops with chains… Basically, lots of different designs. And depending on where the game is being play will depend on the type of hoop you’ll use.

Going from the base up, your traditional fixed indoor basketball 
PolymerFilms On and Off the Court
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