By Hoops

Last week we discussed the increasing difficulties in booking school gyms for basketball, both games and practices. I am hoping that this is an issue which will go away and will get resolved with some consistent and workable policies which result in all school gymnasiums becoming easily accessible and with reasonable rental rates.

This week, I would like to look at what some believe is a disturbing trend in what is being used on new gym floors. There was a time when it appeared the only choice was hardwood. Now, an increasing number of new facilities are using synthetics - tile or rubber or some combination. It may be cheaper in the short term, but is it as good in the long haul?

Basketball Manitoba has published some interesting information comparing the two surfaces. If we are to believe that data, it appears hardwood is still the better choice as to its durability and the benefits to the bodies of the players using it. However, Hoops is aware of a number of new facilities in Winnipeg that have installed a synthetic floor in the past few years - the North Centennial Complex on Sinclair, Norberry Community Centre and Valour Community Centre to name three. On the other hand, the new Lindenwoods Community Centre chose hardwood. Was it only budget considerations that affected this choice? I have been told that the original surfaces in the Frank Kennedy Building at the University of Manitoba were synthetic. All of them were removed within the last 15 years and replaced with wood.

To assist in this debate, I surveyed 10 players, ages 10-18 years, at two different games last week about
their preferences. Overwhelmingly, their choice was hardwood. I wondered whether the only reason was that basketball traditionally has been played on wood and that it has become part of the culture of the game. My on-line search comparing the two surfaces showed that most studies lean to hardwood for both its life (up to 75-80 years for hardwood as opposed to 20-25 years for synthetics) and for the benefits to players' joints and legs.

Therefore, is the thinking to install synthetic flooring short-sighted and does it ignore the facts?

Hoops is definitely no expert on this topic, but I hope that those making the decisions on all future facilities will do their research and make these decisions based on what is best for sport and not just financial considerations.

The final segment on this topic will appear next week.  

We welcome your comments on this topic by posting them below!  Basketball Manitoba welcomes submissions from the basketball community to its website.  If you would like to become a regular contributor, please contact our webmaster.  

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