talk to me about basketball backstop materials
August 31, 2016 6:22 AM   Subscribe

I would like to understand the benefits and disadvantages of various basketball backstop material options for use in busy urban parks and gymnasiums. Google hasn't been much help. Durability and ease of repairs is the highest priority, followed by user experience.
posted by sepviva to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
It might help with your googling if you call it a "backboard"? Backstops are what's behind the plate in baseball.

I can't speak to the performance characteristics of the materials, but outdoor backboards that I've seen are generally meant to be cheap and easily replaced: painted plywood, sheet metal, or expanded metal. Except maybe at really fancy places with restricted access, I've only seen glass backboards inside gym buildings.

If you know of any parks or rec centers (public or private) that were recently built with basketball courts, you may be able to get info from the local government about who designed or built them, and you could call them and ask about their design criteria. The local government itself may have specifications for backboard materials, which would be pretty heavily based on cost and durability, so someone in maintenance or the parks and rec department might have some info for you.
posted by LionIndex at 6:34 AM on August 31, 2016 [1 favorite]

I see "glass" or rather plexiglass used all the time on new outdoor courts. They don't warp, they aren't really affected by the weather, and they are consistent (from a player/shooter perspective) with indoor backboards. I think one factor is wind. Outdoor steel backboards usually have holes in them presumably to lessen their sail properties in wind.
posted by AugustWest at 6:44 AM on August 31, 2016

Response by poster: Sorry, not enough coffee yet today - backboard is the term I was googling! The city doesn't have a current standard.
posted by sepviva at 6:47 AM on August 31, 2016

From what I'm seeing, it seems like the two preferred materials are tempered glass (competition backboards are made from this) and acrylic (the preferred substitute for glass when a substitute is needed). For an outdoor board I would go acrylic, if only because someday a kid is going to huck a rock at it and while I'm sure the dramatic fountain of tiny tempered glass shards would be very gratifying, that's probably not a great outcome from the city's perspective.

Acrylic would be long-lasting and safe, and it appears to be a well-accepted material for backboards. It's also relatively inexpensive.
posted by Anticipation Of A New Lover's Arrival, The at 7:33 AM on August 31, 2016

Not sure where you are or not sure that matters, but I would contact the Director of Facilities (or some such title) at your local school district. I know that at our local district, this person would be responsible for researching this and that there are probably state or national standards by which this person would have to adhere. S/he would know where to find those standards.
posted by AugustWest at 8:28 AM on August 31, 2016

Best answer: I manage park maintenance for a small town in Texas. All the basketball courts I have anything to do with are outdoors. We use powder-coated aluminum backboards for our outdoor courts. They hold up well, and are generally pretty easy to maintain/ replace. They are very rarely vandalized. Generally, the rim bolts through the backboard onto a flange on a gooseneck pole- pretty simple construction.
posted by Shohn at 8:32 AM on August 31, 2016 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: Any thoughts on user preferences?
posted by sepviva at 2:23 PM on August 31, 2016

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