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Net results: the latest portable basketball backstops, backboards, and goals are giving high school gyms a professional look and feel.

As portable basketball backstops have become commonplace at all of the pro arenas and a vast majority of college venues, it's really no surprise that high schools across the country are opting for a similar main court feel.

Plus, portable backstops give schools the flexibility to move the apparatus around and place it in different locations within the confines of a gym.

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"We have seen a boom with portable backstops in the high school market," says Kevin Murphy, Vice President of Sports Construction and Team Sports for American Athletic, Inc. (AAI). "So much so that we've centered some of our product development around the boom. Ten years ago, when I started with the company, we rarely sold a portable backstop to a high school. If we did, it was just as a shooting station for practice. Those high schools were built with ceiling-suspended backstops, one on each end for the main court and two on each sideline for practices."

Says Jim Peterson, President of Schelde North America: "You still see mostly high schools using the ceiling-hung backboards, but the portables have grown in popularity because it creates a certain ambiance. It's not dramatically more expensive. It becomes more of an issue as to whether you have room in your high school gym for a portable and to store a portable.

"If you have an existing facility, you probably don't [have room] because the gym wasn't designed that way. But if you are building a new school then having portable backstops makes sense."

Much of the acceptance of portable backstops is due in large part to the growth of new school construction. According to Murphy, parts of Nevada, Arizona, California, Texas, and several midwestern states, including Ohio, are experiencing a population growth and thus the need for new athletic facilities.

Another factor is that some of the ceiling and wall mounts in pre-existing high school gyms are very antiquated. They weren't designed when guys were dunking and hanging on the rim. So school administrators need to take that into consideration, especially with regards to safety.

"It's good for us because we are equipped to do the new construction market," Murphy says. "There's a significant difference between the new construction market and the aftermarket. The aftermarket is served primarily by team sporting goods dealers whereas the new construction market is serviced more by, what we call sports construction dealers, but they are almost like general contractors."

AAI's top-of-the-line portable backstop, the BPI8000, costs about $10,000 plus installation and freight charge. Murphy says since the unit was just too expensive for the scholastic market, coupled with the fact that the company had a lot of high schools asking about a portable backstop, AAI decided to make a more economical version, the BPI3800, a main court backstop for high school and intramural competition.

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"We sell several a month to high schools," says Murphy. "What we're learning is that schools are telling the architects to go ahead and specify some ceiling-suspended backstops for the side courts, but that they are going to have portable backstops on the main courts. We're seeing a lot of booster clubs contribute for the cost of the BPI3800, or a local merchant will kick in the money because the backstop provides a nice advertising opportunity on the front of the padding."

Some of the features and benefits of the BPI3800 include: Height adjustable from 6'-10'; spring-loaded lifting mechanism; 3" thick padding (6" on international backstops) available in 300+ colors, 1,000 lbs. of ballast; and rolls on eight--6" X 2" urethane wheel rated for 900 lbs. each. The system includes: SuperGlass' Pro Backboard; Slam-Dunk Precision 180 Goal; backboard and base padding; and floor anchor.

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Portable backstops have come a long way since the early days.

Before setting up a portable backstop, it is in a collapsed or folded state. Previously, a hydraulics system, powered by electricity, was used to lift the 1,000 pound-plus behemoths into game position.

According to Schelde's Peterson, today's portables contain giant springs in the base. Thus, when the portable is in its collapsed state, the springs are stretched and store energy, allowing a user to prop it up with one hand in only a few seconds.

Another innovation is how the portables are anchored and endure the nightly punishment from players who play above the rim.

"The old, original models had to be screwed into the floor for immobilization," says Peterson. "They were not very precise. There was a lot of vibration. Schelde invented a system that, when the portable is lifted in the upright position, it pushes a U-shaped sub-frame--called the dynamic sub-frame--underneath the unit, which raises the portable to precisely 10-feet.

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"Next, where the rim mounts, it appears it is mounted to the backboard, but it's not. A normal backboard has a metal plate that is placed flush against the backboard and held together with bolts into another plate on the other side of the glass. Schelde engineers designed a rim that mounts to a metal plate directly to the main beam and the glass is a separate element like a window in a skyscraper mounted in a frame."

So, according to Peterson, if Shaquille O'Neal were to pull the rim off the backboard, the glass would remain intact.

"The game of basketball is not played today the same way it was 20-30-40 years ago when a lot of the gyms were built and some of the equipment just wasn't designed for today's style of play," says Dean Baker, Vice President/Sales for Gared Sports. "Some schools are still using 48" backboards instead of the recommended 42" boards, which are safer for the players and less apt to break."

Gared will introduce its Multi-Directional Goal (MDG) at the NABC show in April. According to Baker, the MDG breaks away in all directions.

"A breakaway goal tends to take pressure off the board," Baker says. "This goal will breakaway when the force comes from the side and center-front."

Gared's 2500 Tournament Breakaway Goal is a front mount 5/8" X 18" single rim with a full wing brace. Its universal back plate accommodates most 42" and 48" rectangular and fan-shaped backboards and meets both NCAA and NFHS specifications.

Gared is also introducing colored backboards, called Spirit boards, and something it calls Adjust-A-Goal, a product that would fit between the backstop and the goal that allows the board and goal to be lowered from the standard 10 feet down to 7-7 1/2 feet.

"In our business, there hasn't been much customization," Baker says. "We looked around and saw that even colored bleachers are now available. There's color, color, color everywhere. We didn't have much color except for our padding. But we felt if we could get the secondary color for the backboard, along with the colored padding, it might make the play look more interesting."

AAI offers a high-end rim called the Slam-Dunk Precision 180 goal with 180-degree reflex action for professional and collegiate play that essentially breaks away from side to side. The goal, which comes with a 10-year warrant, is factory calibrated and the adjustable reflex mechanism maintains NCAA and professional rebound elasticity. The company's most popular selling backboard is the SuperGlass Scholastic backboard, which is a regulation 72 X 42 inch board that comes with a 20-year warranty.

Glass backboards now cost about a third of what they did seven to 10 years ago. AAI's Murphy suggests that coaches and AD's should integrate the use of glass all around the gym, not only for aesthetic reasons, but to simulate game conditions throughout.

Says Murphy: "If you go through our product line, from rims, to backboards, to backboard padding, you're going to find that we have the competition level products but we also go up to the high end as well."
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Title Annotation:FACILITY FOCUS
Author:Newell, Kevin
Publication:Coach and Athletic Director
Geographic Code:1USA
Date:Mar 1, 2005
Words:1308
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