Today marks the official start of the 2013 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Men’s Division I Basketball Championship, better known as March Madness. During the annual tournament, a total of 68 teams will compete over six rounds of play for a spot in the NCAA national championship game, which will be held this year on April 8 in Atlanta’s Georgia Dome. While many of the rules and regulations that govern play during the tournament were set by the NCAA and by the National Basketball Association (NBA), the voluntary standards community plays an important role in producing documents that can assist participating teams, as well as viewers at home.
The tournament has been a television mainstay for years, beginning in 1969 when the first games were aired on broadcast television. This year, CBS, TNT, TBS, and truTV will showcase all 67 of the tournament’s games, giving fans with cable or satellite television the opportunity to watch the whole tournament unfold. American National Standards Institute (ANSI) member and accredited standards developer the Society of Cable Telecommunications Engineers (SCTE) has developed a standard that provides guidance to cable channel operators on issues related to digital transmission. ANSI/SCTE 07 2006, Digital Transmission Standard For Cable Television, an American National Standard (ANS), describes channel coding and modulation for digital multi-service distribution systems used by cable networks and covers both the 64 and 256 quadrature amplitude modulation (QAM) schemes.
While millions of Americans will take in the tournament from the comfort of their homes, thousands of others will travel to college arenas to see the games in person. Because college basketball is played exclusively on indoor courts, proper arena lighting is essential to the game-watching experience. IESNA RP-6-01, Sports and Recreational Area Lighting, a standard developed by the Illuminating Engineering Society (IES), an ANSI member and accredited standards developer, provides design criteria for creation of new lighting setups and guidelines for the evaluation of existing lighting systems for facilities for basketball and other major ground level sports, including tennis and baseball. The standard covers economic aspects of lighting design, as well as floodlight aiming, and the fundamentals of good illumination, among other topics.
Given the high-intensity play that the NCAA tournament is known for, player safety is a major consideration for participating teams. While basketball is usually played with far less protective gear than football, hockey, or other contact sports, many players have begun wearing mouth guards in an attempt to safeguard their teeth from swinging elbows and errant passes. ANSI member and accredited standards developer the American Dental Association (ADA) has put together a standard setting down specifications for thermoplastic or thermosetting polymeric materials that can be used as mouth protectors. The ANS, ANSI/ADA 99-2001 (R2007), Athletic Mouth Protectors and Materials, covers mouth guards that can be formed by pressing the material against an individual’s teeth or on a model of their teeth, and includes requirements for packaging and labeling associated with these products.
ASTM International, an ANSI member and audited designator, has developed a standard intended to assist in the fitting of athletic footwear, including shoes intended for use by basketball players. Because of the large amount of running and jumping involved in basketball at the college level, well-fitting shoes help to protect the health and safety of participating players. The standard, ASTM F539-01(2011), Standard Practice for Fitting Athletic Footwear, discusses a practical method for fitting basketball shoes, as well as footwear for tennis, football, and baseball.
Whether you’re a student athlete playing in one of the tournament’s games, or a college basketball superfan enjoying the spectacle at your local sports bar, voluntary consensus standards provide support for systems and devices that can make March Madness safer and easier to watch.