Tuesday, April 07, 2009

Why Do They Cut Down the Nets?

84266490MW082_NCAA_ChampionAs UNC Coach Roy Williams cuts down the nets, our "Big Sports Email of the Day" comes to us from Jason:

Hey Bob-

Tonight is the reason I love college basketball--the tournament. After tonight, is there any doubt that my beloved Carolina Tarheels are the best team in the country? Not one bit and that's because no one voted and said they were the best. They went out there and just destroyed every team in the way.

I also have an ask sports sturm for you. What is the history behind cutting down the nets in college basketball?

This is one of my favorites. After researching this subject over the years, I defer to the good folks at USA Today who in 2005 wrote a feature about how it is that the "cutting down the nets" tradition got started:

It all started in 1947 when North Carolina State, led by coach Everett Case, celebrated its Southern Conference championship by cutting down the nets.

Case decided to take the nets as a souvenir of his team's victory.

"He wanted it to show as a sign of winning the championship," says Frank Weedon, senior associate athletics director at N.C. State and a historian of sorts.

Since then, the practice has caught on, and teams trim the twine throughout March.

The procedure is quite familiar. The coach generally starts the process, snipping a few strands then passing the scissors to the players. This is an opportunity for all the players to be in the spotlight and take home a part of their championship run. Once the players are done, the coach scales the ladder again and takes the remaeverett-caseinder of the net.

When Case, who had a .739 winning percentage with the Wolfpack, began this, there was no ladder set up to make it easy as there is now. Instead, players had to lift Case on their shoulders.

During the 1964-65 season Case was diagnosed with cancer and resigned in midseason. When N.C. State advanced to the ACC tournament final and upset Duke, the players hoisted Case on their shoulders to cut the nets one final time. He died April 30, 1966.

"He said it was one of the happiest days of his life," Weedon says.

The practice has even found its way into the world of video games. In EA Sports' college basketball game, one of the postgame celebration features available is having players cut down the nets.

So there you have it; Coach Everett Case (who knew he was a Wisconsin alum?) is your man and here is the picture I found of his players holding him on their shoulders as he tries to get those nets from his 1947 Championship win.

For reasons I have never considered, this tradition has made it back to high school, but I don't believe it has ever gone forward into the professional ranks.

Regardless, if anyone likes sports minutia like this, it is me, and I hope that this at least wins every reader of this stuff a free beverage next time there is reason for a "bar bet".

No comments: