Every spring, the N.C.A.A. basketball tournament provides spectators with unforgettable moments of joyous triumph and crushing defeat during the spectacle known as March Madness.
For 64 years, the balls used in the N.C.A.A. tournament featured leather exteriors. That all changed in 2002, when, for the first time in the tournament’s history, synthetic basketballs were used. While leather balls were the traditional choice for many years, players and manufacturers found that using a synthetic alternative developed from natural gas and oil was higher performing.
But the balls aren’t the only things on the court with ties to natural gas and oil. Players wear polyester uniforms and shoes with synthetic rubber soles. They make shots into nylon basketball nets, and plastic mouth guards protect their teeth.
Spectators are also impacted by natural gas and oil. They sit in seats composed of synthetic fabric or plastic, and consume snacks and drinks in plastic food containers, often using plastic utensils.
Even fans outside of the arena use products made from derivatives of natural gas and oil production to watch games. Technology has made it possible to view several games at once using various devices. Computers, tablets, televisions, smartphones and streaming devices are all comprised of plastic parts and other synthetic materials that keep you tuned in.
While you gear up to cheer for your favorite teams, remember that oil and natural gas have played a part in every buzzer beater and bracket buster you witness.