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Optical Delusions: I still can't see the trees on the court at Matthew Knight Arena 

Dear University of Oregon, some of us don't like to get seizures when we watch basketball.

click to enlarge left-field_matthewknightarena.jpg

Everything is OK. Just fine. Sit still, smile and, when appropriate, cheer when Oregon scores. Then repeat. We're going to get through this, brain. We've weathered far worse storms. Remember when we sat through that Two and a Half Men marathon with my parents? I promise we'll come out just fine, unlike Charlie Sheen. When we make it through this, I promise to treat you to a crossword puzzle every morning and discontinue my habit of drowning you in gin every Fourth of July.

If you've found yourself watching a televised University of Oregon basketball game played at Matthew Knight Arena, the above line of thinking may have raced across the teleprompter of your mind. If not, you're a genius. Congratulations. There's coffee in the lobby, go out there and congratulate yourself.

To those of you who remain:

Apparently, there's nothing bizarre about the court if you're actually in the stands at Matthew Knight Arena. Only does the viewer trip balls when he or she is taking in the game by way of television. In those cases, he or she spends the first 12 to 18 minutes of the first half staring at the floor, wondering why someone vomited on only the outskirts of the court, but left the middle largely pukeless. Then, someone will tell him or her that it's not vomit, it's actually a forest. With, ya know, trees. See 'em?

This is the point at which you - not he or she; but you... it's getting personal now - find yourself staring at the court, ignoring the fact that the Ducks are suddenly playing some impressive basketball while you strain your eyeballs more than they've worked since those Magic Eye books came out and gave you a migraine for all of 1993. You'll pretend that you see the trees and comment as to how genius this is, but then a month later, long after the subject has left the public forum, you'll write a newspaper column in which you loudly bitch about still not being able to see the fucking trees.

But it's supposed to look like this. It's like a magic trick - an optical illusion. And what's more, it's actually built with the intent of screwing with the minds of visiting players.

"Even the floor is designed to throw you off a little bit," says the designer of the court, famed Nike artist Tinker Hatfield. And yes, "Tinker Hatfield" is indeed the name of an actual human man and not the title of that thing they put on Harry Potter's head to decide in which dorm he should reside.

"I think it's done within the rules, by the way," continues Hatfield.

What in the name of Gryffindor is he talking about? Done within the rules? I don't even see a half-court line. Apparently it's there, but when you can't see it on television, that's a pain in the ass for those of us who like to count the 10-second rule aloud with our families on Saturday afternoons. No half-court line? That's the equivalent of a baseball park with no foul lines, but daisies planted in the shape of a Pegasus in center field.

God damn. I really miss Mac Court. So does my brain.


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