Monday, January 31, 2011
Blog: Fitness Equipment Manufacturers, Work With Us
We’d really like to buy new equipment for our facilities in 2011, but we can’t imagine how we’re going to do it. That, in a nutshell, is the problem facing fitness equipment manufacturers.|
As recently as four years ago, we had no problems purchasing equipment. The economic outlook was bright, there were plenty of leasing companies, and since we had been in business for so long, we had an easy time with the approval process.
As they say, that was then. According to Club Industry's state of the industry report, club operators will spend an average of $10,000 less on equipment purchases in 2011 than they spent in 2010. And it wasn’t like they were spending much in 2010.
So, what will it take for us, and doubtless other club operators, to purchase equipment in 2011? In short, we need help, and it can only come from the manufacturers themselves. So, with full acknowledgement that we know nothing about the economics of the manufacturing and financing businesses, allow us to make some suggestions:
1. No payments until 2012. We can do this at our local furniture store, but not with equipment. The equipment guys need to convince the lease guys to play ball and offer deals like this. Put time on our side, rather than requiring first- and last-month payments and the immediate monthly installments.
2. Stand with us. We know you’re not our uncle and may not want to co-sign on financing, but the leasing companies are much harder to work with these days. Personal credit scores of owners are under greater scrutiny, and dollars available are lower. We need manufacturers to take an active role in financing and lend their weight to the process.
3. Offer creative payment options. Partner with our industry’s billing companies (ABC Financial, Twin Oaks and so on) to make monthly payments directly from them to you (or to the leasing companies) in return for better terms. For example, we use a third-party billing company that collects our dues from each member throughout the month, and at regular intervals they send our money to us. So, what if they sent our monthly lease payment directly to our lender, without us ever touching the money? We’d like to think that the automatic payment would be valuable and comforting to anyone loaning us money.
4. Certify used equipment. We have dabbled in used fitness equipment, but it makes us nervous. If one of the major manufacturers offered us “Certified Used” equipment, with their seal of approval and a reasonable warranty, we’d take a very serious look.
Please, guys, let’s get creative. We need new equipment, and you need to make some sales. Let’s look at this problem with fresh eyes and an appreciation for the reality of 2011.
Friday, January 28, 2011
Ole Miss Alerted to Sickle Cell Claim
A law firm representing the family of Bennie Abram, who died last year during a football practice at the University of Mississippi, notified the school today of its intention to file a $10 million lawsuit.|
Abram, a walk-on junior defensive back, collapsed and died Feb. 19, 2010, the first day of spring practice. An autopsy report showed that the 20-year-old’s death was due to complications from sickle cell trait with exertion and a contributing factor of cardiomegaly, an inflammation of the heart.
The Lanier Law Firm, which negotiated a landmark 2009 settlement with the NCAA following the death of Rice University football player Dale R. Lloyd II, who also had sickle cell trait, is representing the Abram family.
According to Lanier attorney Gene Egdorf, Ole Miss officials have said the university began testing athletes for sickle cell trait starting in 1989, and that the school knew about Abram’s condition. However, Egdorf says the Abram family wasn’t made aware of the results or the potential ramifications of the diagnosis.
Other schools, including North Carolina A&T, have recently suffered consequences surrounding student-athletes affected by sickle cell trait.
“Student-athletes shouldn’t be dying because of sickle cell,” Egdorf stated in a release. “The only reason that it turns fatal is because someone along the way made mistakes or intentionally disregarded the well-established guidelines for training, monitoring and treating these student-athletes.”
Another KU Ticket Official Pleads Guilty to Conspiracy
Former University of Kansas director of ticket operations Charlette Blubaugh on Thursday became the latest official ensnared in a ticketing scam to plead guilty to conspiracy charges.|
“With a click of a computer mouse or a simple visit to the vault, Blubaugh made tickets meant for athletic department donors vanish from view, only to appear later in the hands of outside ticket brokers in Kansas City and Oklahoma,” wrote Kansas City Star reporter Mark Morris. “She ‘purchased’ some season tickets — never paying for them — and had them sent to addresses that she had disguised with names like the Kansas City Women’s Clinic.”
Blubaugh came to Kansas from the ticket office at the University of Oklahoma on April 15, 2004. The theft of tickets, which totaled $2 million, began the following year. Blubaugh’s husband, who served as a consultant to the ticket department, was expected to change his plea to guilty, leaving only Ben Kirtland, a former KU development director, to stand trial. Earlier this month, former KU officials Kassie Liebsch and Rodney Jones plead guilty to conspiracy.
According to the Star, Blubaugh’s familiarity with KU’s ticketing software, which was the same as that used at Oklahoma, was her primary qualification for landing the job. The software put one individual in control of tickets earmarked for visiting coaches and players and KU donors. Tickets couldn’t be tracked, because Blubaugh never entered the information into the system or they were stashed in bogus accounts. From there, they were distributed to other staffers for illegal sale.
An internal athletic department report likened the climate created by Blubaugh to that of an “ice cream store where the employees feel free to sample the wares without paying for them.”
As part of her plea, Blubaugh agreed to forfeit, along with others in the case, $2 million and other property purchased with illegal proceeds, the Star reported.
Thursday, January 27, 2011
Life Fitness to Name New Bike After Co-Founder Augie Nieto
On Thursday afternoon, Life Fitness co-founder Augie Nieto — who was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in 2005 and who has since become an aggressive leading advocate for research to find a cure for the debilitating disease — posted the following |
OMG Chris just announced to us @LifeFitness is unveiling the Augies Quest line of bikes and we will receive a percent of sales!!
AND..... @LifeFitness is naming their new showroom after me! WOW! what an honor.
"Chris" is Life Fitness president Chris Clawson; the "line of bikes" is the Limited Edition Augie's Quest Lifecycle; and the "we" is MDA's Augie's Quest, the ALS cure-driven research initiative begun by Nieto — now chairman of Octane Fitness. During the past five years, Augie’s Quest has funded several successful ALS research projects that have accelerated the development of therapeutics.
Foremost among them is the partnership with the ALS Therapy Development Institute (ALS TDI). Thanks to millions of dollars donated by public support of Augie’s Quest (and matching funds from ALS TDI), scientists at ALS TDI have screened more than 100 molecules to see if they affect the progression of ALS. Through its rigorously controlled program, ALS TDI has identified a molecule that significantly increases survival, delays progression and improves body weight in the ALS animal model. Other molecules are still under investigation.
The fifth annual B*A*S*H for MDA's Augie's Quest, held in March at the 29th International Health Racquet and Sportsclub Association Convention & Trade Show in San Diego, raised more than $822,000 toward research.
More details about the sharp-looking line of Augie's Quest Lifecycles, which boast the Augie's Quest logo and a motivational quote from Nieto ("From Success to Significance"), will be available as we get them.
Rendering courtesy of Life Fitness
Oversight Group to Fund Concussion Research, Strengthen Helmet Standards
At its recent winter meetings, the National Operating Committee on
Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE) awarded almost $610,000 to
fund concussion research. In addition to a $340,000 grant for the study
of concussion biomechanics, the independent and nonprofit
standard-setting organization also awarded a second year of funding to
studies regarding gender differences in concussion rates among high
school basketball, soccer and lacrosse players; the effect of
sport-related concussion on cognition, balance and health-related
quality of life in adolescent athletes; and the genetic risk factors for
concussion and concussion severity. |
NOCSAE also created the Scientific Advisory Committee to direct research
efforts specifically related to concussions and helmet standards; it
will be chaired by Robert Cantu, NOCSAE vice president and one of the
nation's leading medical specialists in this area.
"Investment in research provides the foundation for our work to protect
athletes on the field of play," says Mike Oliver, executive director of
NOCSAE, which is made up mostly of medical professionals and sporting
goods equipment representatives. "It is our mission to continue to drive
the science of sports medicine so youth and adults who choose to play
sports can know their equipment is certified to standards based on the
best available information."
In related news, NOCSAE also now requires football helmet manufacturers
to submit all certification test data, quality control and sample
selection documentation for all helmets manufactured or sold within the
past ten years. The organization — which is evaluating that information,
along with a third-party independent auditor — has come under government
scrutiny lately for having only one drop-test standard (substantially
unchanged since it was developed in 1973) designed to protect against
the high-force levels that would otherwise fracture skulls. The New York Times reports that top NOCSAE officials have maintained that no scientific data warranted changes.
"Any change to football helmet standards must be based on science — not
someone's best guess," says Cantu, a clinical professor of neurosurgery
at Boston University. "To change the standard to address concussions
without needed scientific data would be irresponsible and could
jeopardize the safety of athletes. Part of this effort is analyzing
every piece of available data regarding football helmets, which may help
shape potential changes to our standard."
Many of NOCSAE's two-day meetings were closed to the public, but Oliver told The Times that the reconditioning
of used helmets — often worn by adolescent players — was not
specifically addressed. Given how at least two reconditioning plants
NOCSAE’s drop-testing rules, though, the organization will consider
whether a third party might oversee the certification of all helmets,
both used and new.
Meanwhile, the National Athletic Trainers' Association and the National
Football League are raising concussion awareness with the goal of
helping pass concussion-related legislation in every state. Both organizations have teamed
up to promote laws modeled after Washington's Zackery Lystedt Law,
which requires concussion education for players, coaches and parents;
immediate removal from play of a student-athlete who appears to have
suffered a concussion; and clearance by a health-care professional
before a concussed player returns to action. So far, at least nine
states have enacted concussion laws, while others — including Pennsylvania, Wyoming and Utah — have legislation pending.
For more information on the various concussion education tools available, click here.
Blog: Sexists Fired, While Sex Continues to Sell
It’s not an easy time to be a woman in the sports world. Male sportscasters are heaping on the sexual misconduct behind the scenes and scorn on the screen, male-dominated corporations are pulling their support of women’s sporting events, and even sportswomen are having trouble coming up with the names of women’s sports’ biggest stars.|
The year began with ESPN — no stranger to sexist misbehavior — firing announcer Ron Franklin after he told Fiesta Bowl sideline reporter Jeannine Edwards, "Why don't you leave this to the boys, sweet baby?" and responded to her objections with an expletive. In the latest example of male boorishness, the UK’s Sky Sports suspended Andy Gray and Richard Keys, two of Britain’s leading soccer commentators, on Monday for making sexist remarks about two female game officials and a team executive when they thought their microphones were turned off. On Tuesday, Gray was fired from his $2.7-million-a-year job when earlier incidents surfaced. (Even Americans mystified by Gray’s thick Scottish brogue during World Cup telecasts and EA Sports’ FIFA soccer videogames will be able to recognize his past sexist behavior from videos that are suddenly swirling around the Internet.)
In the world of tennis, meanwhile, the early exit of Venus Williams from the Australian Open prompted a lament from female reporter Shannon J. Owens (of the Orlando Sentinel) about the dearth of “recognizable faces” in all women’s sports. Especially new ones: After listing the four Americans in Forbes’ top-10 list of highest grossing women athletes (Venus and Serena Williams, Indy racer Danica Patrick and golfer Paula Creamer), neither Owens nor a local prep-sports athlete (basketball player Taryn Griffey, daughter of Cincinnati Reds great Ken Griffey Jr.) could come up with anyone other than pro hoops star Candace Parker. ESPN women's basketball analyst Carolyn Peck, asked the same question, was stuck in the ’90s with Lisa Leslie and Julie Foudy.
“So why is it” (Owens asked) “that during a time when peak performers and interesting personalities among women's sports are plentiful, Erin Andrews, a media personality, is considered a more attractive candidate to land a shoe endorsement like Reebok Zig-Tech?”
Why, indeed, when the men associated with the campaign, such as Peyton Manning and Sidney Crosby, are all actual athletes? It’d be hard to argue with Shawn Ladda, president of the National Association for Girls and Women in Sport, who told Owens, "We still haven't accepted the value of the female athlete."
Not like we did a decade ago, when the Women’s World Cup won by the American team on American soil signaled a newfound respect for women’s athleticism. Remember those heady days, of athletes posing naked with soccer balls, of Brandi Chastain’s sports bra, of the self-described Booters with Hooters? Remember how Kristine Lilly, who saved the Americans in the final against China with a header off the line in extra time, was completely ignored and forgotten by the media and advertisers, while the more quote-unquote “marketable” Mia Hamm said or did nothing of consequence during the tournament, but made millions in endorsements?
It is difficult to see a way forward from this state of affairs, when the evident sexism of many of the men involved in reporting on and marketing women’s sports is abetted by women’s league executives, athletes and even sportscasters who choose to play by the men’s rules. Every league that uses sex to sell, marketing its athletes with pinup calendars; every athlete who poses naked as some sort of nod to “athleticism”; every “marketable” sportscaster who feeds a marketing machine that objectifies women helps undercut the effort to portray female athletes as athletes first. Anyone serious about wanting to celebrate women’s athleticism would keep her clothes on and let her on-the-field exploits speak for themselves. And any sportscaster serious about wanting to celebrate women’s athleticism would recognize what Reebok was attempting to buy, and refuse to sell it.
Blog: Ammunition for High Schools Looking to Build
Same old story: You need to fix up your athletic facilities and the administration won't budge. But face it — without one big announcement that the recession is over, people will remain fiscally conservative. Particularly at the high school level, it's hard to rationalize adding to the expense side of the ledger.|
Maybe it'll help to have some math to back up your request. Like this: High school sports participation is up, meaning that there are more players and a need for more and better-equipped facilities. And since a lot of the facilities have multiple uses, one improvement has the opportunity to benefit more than one program.
According to the National Federation of State High School Associations’ annual participation summary, the number of student-athletes continues to grow. In 2009-10, a total of 7,628,377 students (4,455,740 boys and 3,172,637 girls) participated in high school sports, a gain of 1.2 percent from 2008-09. Some of the biggest gains were in tennis, lacrosse, soccer and softball; smaller gains came in volleyball and golf. Even adapted sports are on the rise.
So to look at this objectively, you can make improvements where your student participation is growing, and/or you can make improvements to multiuse facilities to help spread the wealth. Some improvements you can do yourself (or with the help of parents, volunteers or your maintenance crew), while some will require a professional.
But first, you need the wherewithal to do it. Need ammunition for your argument with the administration? It's free: the NFHS study is available at www.nfhs.org — choose "participation data" from the menu on the left-hand side of the home page.
Wednesday, January 26, 2011
UConn Riles Football Donor, Lines Up Basketball Boosters
Robert Burton, the University of Connecticut booster whose $2.5 million donation kick-started construction of the school’s $50 million football complex in 2004, wants his money back and his family’s name removed from the building. The Burton Family Football Complex opened in 2006.|
In a letter sent to UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway, as well as the school’s incoming president and its board of trustees chair, Burton questioned Hathaway’s job qualifications and expressed his frustration over the search to fill the Huskies’ latest football coaching vacancy. Burton had asked Hathaway in January to keep him in the loop during the search and offered his insight regarding who might make a good fit for UConn. “For someone who has given over $7,000,000 to the football program/university, I do not feel as though these requests were asking for too much,” Burton stated in the letter. “Your lack of response on either of these requests tells me you do not respect my point of view or value my opinion.”
Burton, a one-time draft pick of the San Francisco 49ers, opposed the hiring of Paul Pasqualoni to replace Randy Edsall, who left UConn for Maryland after leading the Huskies in this year’s Fiesta Bowl. Burton’s son, Mike, played for Edsall in 1999, while another son, Joe, played for Pasqualoni at Syracuse from 1997 to 2001. “The primary reason Randy took another job was because he could not work with you,” Burton wrote to Hathaway. “I assume it will not take your new President long to find out that you also have problems in your working relationships with the basketball coaches and other UConn managers.”
On Tuesday, Hathaway announced that roughly $7 million had been raised through silent donations toward the university's proposed basketball practice facility, which is expected to cost between $25 million and $30 million. The building is being planned and designed by Populous, which also handled The Burton Family Football Complex project.
Iowa Football Players Hospitalized After Workout
Twelve football players were admitted this week to University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics after suffering exertional rhabdomyolysis, an acute breakdown of muscle fibers resulting in the release of muscle fiber contents (myoglobin) into the blood stream.|
The admitted players are in a safe and stable condition, according to a report in the Cedar Rapids Gazette. Serious cases of exertional rhabdomyolysis can affect the kidney’s ability to clear toxins and lead to permanent kidney failure.
A UI sports information statement indicated that NCAA-approved winter workouts were likely the cause of the players’ symptoms. The student-athletes recently participated in lower-body drills that included a series of 100 squats followed by sled work, a fast-paced workout that one former player described as the “worst experience in your life.”
Hawkeyes coach Kirk Ferentz is on the road recruiting and keeping abreast of the situation, according to Iowa athletic director Gary Barta. “Our number-one concern is the safety of our student-athletes, so we are pleased with the positive feedback,” Barta stated in a release. “Our next step is to find out what happened so we can avoid this happening in the future.”
In August, 24 football players from McMinnville (Ore.) High School were treated for what some experts believed was rhabdomyolysis.
Blog: Be Careful Who Gets Injured in Your Facility
lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court, alleging negligence on behalf of former assistant strength coach Jamie Yanchar and the university in relation to the September 2009 weightlifting accident that threatened Johnson's football career and life.
This week, former University of Southern California tailback Stafon Johnson filed a |
Johnson was injured during mandatory team weightlifting workouts. Since all of the facts are still being determined, it is impossible to tell yet if USC was negligent in the accident. The initial report filed by the university claimed that Johnson's hands slipped, causing the bar to drop and land on his neck and throat. If that is the case, Johnson will have a hard time showing that the university was negligent and that Johnson did not assume the risk of such an injury. Johnson's lawyer, however, claims that Yanchar carelessly struck the bar with his body. This act, Johnson claims, knocked the bar off balance and out of his hands, causing it to fall.
Again, until the court can determine the facts, it is impossible to speculate whether the university will ultimately be responsible for the unspecified damages Johnson is seeking. What is clear, however, is that when an athlete like Johnson is injured, the exposure to the university is much greater than if you or I suffered a similar injury. For example, Johnson has sued for medical expenses, and pain and suffering, all standard damages in a negligence lawsuit. That being said, what potentially makes this lawsuit very expensive for USC is Johnson’s loss-of-future-earnings claim. If Johnson can show that he would have played in the National Football League but for the accident, his loss of earnings could be in the tens of millions of dollars.
This case, therefore, is a good example of why you need to be careful who you injure. In fact, the potential damage award is probably one of the main reasons this lawsuit was even filed. If the only financial exposure the university faced was medical expenses, it probably would have settled long ago.
Tuesday, January 25, 2011
W. Va. Rec Department Using Study to Leverage Funding
After suffering through annual budget cuts and revenue reductions, administrators at a West Virginia parks and recreation department are hoping to use the results of a recent Marshall University Study to leverage more financial support.|
A study prepared in December by Marshall assistant professor Richard Abel compared the amount of 2009-10 fiscal year per capita local tax support for recreation services in eight West Virginia communities ranging in 2009 estimated population from 5,540 (City of New Martinsville) to 191,663 (Kanawha County). Abel told the Hagerstown, Md.-based Herald-Mail that residents of Martinsburg-Berkely County are getting a particularly "big bang for their dollar."
For the year, the department made $581,618 in tax revenue, which equates to $5.60 per resident, given the estimated population of 103,854. While Kanawha County came in at $6.26 per resident and the City of Huntington (population 103,241) came in at $19.92, none of the other departments studied were receiving less than $40 in per capita tax support. At the top of the list were the City of Bridgeport ($95.94 per capita, population 7,936) and the City of Clarksburg ($67.29 per capita, population 16,406).
According to Herald-Mail reports, if the hotel tax revenues that feed Martinsburg-Berkely County's recreation department are subtracted, the per capita figure drops to less than $2.50 annually. "Out-of-town residents are paying more for public recreation (here) than people than people that live (in Berkeley County)," the department's executive director, Steve Catlett, told the paper.
The relatively minimal tax support of the Martinsburg-Berkeley County recreation is particularly problematic since the department has struggled to maintain other annual revenue allocations. Although the department is expected to see a modest $12,500 this year from the Berkeley County Board of Education for recreational programming, the Berkeley County Commission has cut the $100,000 allocation of hotel tax revenue toward recreation to $72,000. In total, the department is expecting to operate with $53,000 less revenue this year.
"For us to survive, we have to generate almost 70 percent of our ($2.1 million) budget," Catlett told the Herald-Mail.
Although voters have turned down three levies to provide the department with additional funding in recent years, Catlett said he plans to use the study to justify the allocation of additional money to the department, especially since renovations to an existing recreation center are under way and another recreation center project is in the planning stages.
Little League Updates List of Approved Composite Bats
Little League International has expanded its moratorium on the use of composite bats to all of its baseball divisions — including the Majors division for boys and girls ages 9 to 12. Originally announced in December, the moratorium disallows the use of all baseball bats constructed with composite material in the barrel unless a specific model shows in laboratory testing that, after the bat is broken in, it will not exceed the Batted Ball Coefficient of Restitution (BBCOR)
performance standard printed on the bat. |
The Williamsport, Pa.-based organization's move follows that of the National Federation of State High School Associations, which outlawed composite bats — constructed with the same aluminum exterior as standard aluminum bats, but with a woven graphite wall on the interior — for the 2010-11 season.
This week, Little League posted on its website a series of frequently asked questions, as well as updated information on the composite bats that have received waivers for all of its baseball divisions. (Little League's softball divisions are not affected by this moratorium.) Individual bat models are tested at an independent laboratory, and the results are conveyed to the manufacturer. If the manufacturer provides results to Little League — and the bat passes the testing — it will be noted on those lists, according to the organization.
“The moratorium is not the result of Little League changing its bat standards, nor was it influenced by any relationships with bat manufacturers,” Patrick W. Wilson, vice president of operations at Little League International, says. “The decision to place the moratorium on composite bats in Little League’s baseball divisions is based solely on the fact that scientific research showed that composite-barreled bats may exceed the performance standard that is printed on the bats, after the bats had been broken in."
According to the league: "Wooden and aluminum metal/alloy bats are not subject to the moratorium. Bats that have only a metal or alloy barrel (and no other material, unless it is in the end cap of the bat), and if it meets the other standards (length, diameter, etc. for the respective division in which it is used) are not subject to the moratorium, regardless of the composition of the handle or the transition to the barrel."
Some composite bats can be tampered with in the manufacturing process, most commonly through "rolling," in which a machine uses rollers to apply pressure to the bat, breaking down the composite fibers and resinous glues that manufacturers use. This causes the fibers to expand and create a trampoline effect, projecting the ball farther and faster. “Rolling the bat gives it a higher performance," says Elliot Hopkins, director of educational services for the NFHS and the federation's liaison to the Baseball Rules Committee. “It can significantly increase the performance.”
Even composite bats that are not altered will eventually see a performance increase after normal use, Hopkins says.
Blog: Australian Open's Dead Spot Sparks Lively Discussions
Nothing like a bump in the road to make you complain about the whole road ... for days.|
When Maria Sharapova's tennis ball hit a dead spot on the court at the Australian Open, it was the bounce (or non-bounce) felt 'round the world. YouTube and Yahoo were all over it. Pictures were everywhere, particularly that shot of the lineswoman throwing the ball down and having it stick to the spot as though the court were magnetized.
It made news, that's for sure.
The question is, was it news?
Not really. The Australian Open has cushioned courts, which means the synthetic surface, which has some give to it, sits on top of a pavement. Dead spots can have several causes, but two are common: a dip in the pavement under the cushioned coating, or heat that causes a bubble of air that migrates up through an area of the pavement and makes the cushion lift a bit, moving it away from the surface and creating an air pocket that absorbs the impact of the ball.
At the Open, it was the latter. The solution was low-tech but quick: Workers used a cordless drill to poke small holes in the affected area, released the air, restored the planarity of the surface, and the world as we know it went back into balance. Sharapova certainly didn't seem to lose any of her bounce; she won the match and advanced to the next round.
But for days, the debate continued: Why did it happen? Was the surface to blame? Was it a catastrophic failure?
Nope. Just an air bubble that made its presence known during a rather high-profile match. In that respect, it's no different from other technical difficulties that, for whatever reason, happen at inopportune moments: a microphone that fails in the middle of a dignitary's speech, or a tire that goes flat when the driver is in a hurry. It's maddening. It's inconvenient. But it passes. Chill, people.
Once the crowds have gone home, it's likely the court will be examined to ascertain the dead spot wasn't caused by any underlying problem. And that will be the end of it.
Or it should be, provided commentators, bloggers and others can bear to talk about (gasp!) the sport, rather than a problem that took a quick fix. Of course, that means they'll also have to give up talking about what Venus Williams chooses to wear.
Monday, January 24, 2011
Blog: Health Club Owners Must Overcome Bad Publicity
Here’s something we love about this time of year: We do our marketing to welcome new members to our gyms. We try to put new exercisers at ease. We tell them how we’re here to help them and that our members are so nice. All of which is true.|
And then we have to overcome publicity like this — a front-page Wall Street Journal story titled “New Year’s Resolutions Have Gym-Goers Getting Pretty Exercised.” While most of the quotes and self-important attitude were from gym members, you can read between the lines to see that the culture and practices of the facilities do not help.
To be clear, we have unreasonable, self-absorbed and difficult members, too. Every club does. But when an article like this appears in the popular press, it demonstrates to us that as an industry we still do a lousy job of protecting and encouraging our newest and most easily intimidated members.
Here are some of the people we met in the WSJ article:
• The trainer who said, “All we could do was shake our heads” over the new member who was blaring his own music while lifting. Really? That’s all you could do? You couldn’t nicely ask the fellow to use headphones?
• The 26-year-old who observed that new members in yoga class “wobble everywhere, throwing off my balance.” You poor thing. We’re sure that when you first started taking yoga you were perfect.
• The new member who “meanders the floor aimlessly” or “stands there for five minutes trying to figure out where my machines are.” Ugh. We’re not perfect about helping new members, but we provide free orientations and keep trainers on the floor precisely to avoid this problem. We hope this new member finds a new gym.
This member’s experience was used to bolster the author’s claim that new members generally only have “osmosis” as a means to learn gym etiquette. Uh, no — not if we’re doing our jobs.
One regular summed it all up, saying that new members “think they’re doing the right thing, but they’re really just getting in the way of the rest of us.”
You know, that’s just the welcoming, warm attitude that most new members are looking for when they put themselves in a foreign environment to do something they’re already nervous about doing. Thanks!
While we can’t stop members from feeling or acting this way, we can sure as heck do our best to counteract this attitude with our culture, staff and business practices. If our facilities had been mentioned in this article, we’d have been horrified.
Friday, January 21, 2011
Controversial Cheerleading Trip Sparks Policy Revision
The decision to allow the varsity cheerleaders at Hempstead High School in Dubuque, Iowa, to attend the National High School Cheerleading Championship in Orlando, Fla., next month will be punctuated with a district-wide policy revision regarding extended domestic and foreign |
Earlier this month, Larie Godinez, superintendent of the Dubuque Community School District, vetoed the trip because the team didn't follow the district's policy on group travel. Godinez told reporters that the 17-member squad started collecting money for the trip before district officials approved the action, and the cheer competition isn't state sanctioned. After a series of school board meetings — some of them heated and with police presence — Godinez on Thursday officially approved the cheer team's request to attend the competition Feb. 12-13 at the ESPN Wide World of Sports Complex.
The superintendent — who acknowledged that she received three threats over this issue — reversed her original denial of the request based on conditions agreed to by cheer coach Jenny Kress. Those included increased oversight by Hempstead and district administration on all aspects of the trip, plus completion of required forms.
"It's too bad that the board, the district, the coaches and the team got caught up in this," one parent told Dubuque's Telegraph Herald. "Valuable time has been lost to train and fund-raise." The team is expected to depart for Orlando on Feb. 10 and return Feb. 14.
Until the school board approves the district's travel policy revisions, Godinez will continue to have authority to make exceptions to the existing policy — a multiple-page document that was revised last year from a single sentence written in 1981. Godinez said the revised policy most likely will revert back to one sentence. As the Telegraph Herald wrote in a recent editorial, "How district policies are communicated and enforced should be a topic of discussion in every school with every teacher and coach. School administrators need to make sure the policies are sound, and then stand by them."
Spelling Error on Uniforms Doesn't Deter D.C. Prep Team
High school basketball now has its own version of the Washington Nationals, at least when it comes to uniform errors. Washington, D.C.'s Theodore Roosevelt High School Rough Riders — as in the First U.S. Volunteer Cavalry led by the school's namesake in 1898 — have become the Rough "Ryders" this season after new basketball uniforms arrived with what athletic director Daryl Tilghman thought was a typo.|
Tilghman told The Washington Post this week that he called the vendor to complain. "We're a school, not a rec [league]," he wrote in a text message to a Post reporter. He was told by the vendor that "Ryders" was the "cool" way to spell "Riders." (Ruff Ryders is a music label that rose to fame in the early 2000s with a roster including rappers DMX and Eve.) Unamused, Tilghman said he wanted the right name on the jerseys but was told he had to return the misspelled ones.
That will have wait until the end of the season. For now, the mishap doesn't seem to be affecting the Rough Riders — er, Rough Ryders. Through Thursday, the team was 14-2, with a 4-0 conference record.
In 2009, Majestic Athletic shipped jerseys to Major League Baseball's Washington Nationals with "Natinals" emblazoned across the front. But at least the Nationals received a sincere apology.
NCAA Survey: Athletes' Time on Sports Trumps Books
An NCAA survey has found that student-athletes spend more time on sports preparation than on academic study, the latest evidence that being a college jock is a full-time job.|
Conducted last year and released at last week’s NCAA Convention in San Antonio, Texas, the survey found that football players at the FBS level say their sport consumes an average 43.3 hours of their time per week (including time spent playing games, practicing, training and in the training room), compared to 38 hours on academics.
And football players aren’t alone. The breakdown for Division I baseball players was even more lopsided — 42 hours devoted to baseball, 32 to academics. Basketball came closest to something resembling balance, with men’s players reporting 39 hours per week devoted to the sport, and 37 to academics, while women reported a breakdown of 37½ and 39.
These numbers appear to make a mockery of the NCAA’s 20-hour rule, adopted in 1991 to limit demands on athletes’ time so they can be students, too. The University of Michigan made headlines recently when football players were quoted anonymously regarding their time commitments, leading to minor sanctions by the NCAA.
The association conducted a similar survey in 2006, with similar results for football players (who at that time were spending roughly 10 hours per week more on their sport than athletes in other sports), and a survey conducted more recently by the American Football Coaches Association found that nearly nine in 10 players admitted to violating the rule.
“It is consistently shown that the 20-hour-a-week rule is a joke, and everybody knows it’s a joke,” says University of North Carolina assistant sport science professor Richard Southall, founder of the College Sport Research Institute, which has likened football participation to a full-time job with adverse academic effects. “If you get toward that 40-hour week, the first thing that comes to people’s minds is, ‘Wow, that’s kind of like a job.’ How is what we find in those results consistent with the NCAA’s mission statement, which is to integrate athletes into the educational experience of the general student body?”
The 20-hour rule is often misunderstood, even by student-athletes. Only time spent under the supervision of coaches is to be counted. Competition counts for three hours, regardless of how much actual time it takes (think day-long track meet). Time spent in the training room, or during so-called “captain’s practices,” doesn’t count at all.
That said, coaches have been known to bend the rule — by not being present for a mandatory 30-minute warm-up before practice, for example. Though he doesn’t condone it, Southall admits that searching for those kinds of competitive edges comes with the job title — of coach, at least. “Coaches are the ultimate Type-A personalities,” he says. “You hear coaches all the time talk about how nobody is going to out work them. You hear about the coach who sleeps on his office couch after looking at game film. That’s the mindset, and if I’m willing to work that hard as a coach, well doggone my players should, too.”
Blog: It’s Time to Bring the Human Touch to Customer Service
I recently had a moment of clarity in my health club, a large, well-known multipurpose facility that I have belonged to for more than 20 years. It was as simple as this: an employee named Herb came over to say hello and introduce himself. I had seen him do this with other people when he first started working there a month ago, and I was sure that as a personal trainer he was mainly trolling for new clients. But as the days passed, I thought that even if that were the case, he was unique because he was actually talking to the members. He was making people feel special. Where had he been all this time?|
In 20 years of calling on customers in fitness equipment sales, I jumped through my fair share of hoops to create clients and keep them happy and loyal to my products. Why has this level of service seemed to be the exception, and not the rule, in my experience as the customer of a club?
It’s possible that my expectations for this (or any) club are too high. Yet, it’s telling that I have a favorite restaurant, clothing store, bike shop, church — and even feel my dry cleaner needs to get honorable mention here. The more I visit these places, the more rich the experience becomes as I get to know the owners and employees, and they in turn learn more about me, my family and my interests. However, there is one place I go regularly that does not provide the rich and rewarding experience one might expect after two decades of membership — my health club. Come to think of it, I seem to have similar experiences when I visit most clubs in my global travels. I think I have just come to expect little to zero customer engagement when I visit facilities.
People like to belong, and they want to be proud of and feel happy about the places where they spend their time and money. Where better to have a positive experience than in the place where we go to improve our health and wellbeing?
I think it is a good time to consider the human touch in our business and our lives. How might a facility consider the impact their employees make on their members? Consider asking some current members these two questions:
1). “What if memberships and services were free and you paid solely for the experience?”
2). “Would you be willing to pay the same or more, or want to pay less, for your regular experiences here?”
While there are many challenges in building and running facilities, people who join often have many choices of where they can go to invest their time and money. Small things, like what Herb demonstrated, can make a big impact on the value of their experience and the success of a club.
Thursday, January 20, 2011
Study Says 8 Percent of Pro Sports Attendees Drunk
A study released this week by researchers in the University of Minnesota School of Public Health found that eight percent of fans leaving professional baseball and football games are drunk by legal definition.|
Breathalyzer tests were performed on 362 adult fans after 13 baseball games and three football games. While 60 percent of fans in the sample were found to have no alcohol in their system, 8 percent registered a blood alcohol content above the legal limit of .08.
“Our sample size was small, partly because of the difficulty of getting fans to submit to a BAC test after a game,” said Darin Erickson, principal investigator of the study, in a report on the School of Public Health website. “But if we assume that our results accurately represent individuals attending professional events, it means that — on average — almost 5,000 attendees leaving one National Football League event would be above the legal BAC limit for driving. That’s a lot of drunken individuals who could be involved in traffic accidents, assaults, vandalism, crime and other injuries.”
The study also found that fans under 35 years of age are nine times more likely to have BAC levels above the limit of .08, and that night game attendees had higher odds of having a mid-range BAC (not above the legal limit), but they were not significantly more likely to have a BAC above the legal limit.
Tailgating appears to play the most significant role in fan intoxication, according to the researchers. Fans who drink at tailgating parties have 14 times greater odds of being legally drunk compared to fans who had not tailgated, as nearly one in four attendees who tailgated reported consuming five or more alcoholic beverages while tailgating. Those who were in the highest BAC category reported consuming, on average, 6.6 drinks while tailgating compared with 3.7 drinks and 2.8 drinks for those in the mid-range BAC category and the zero BAC category, respectively. [At the college level, crackdowns or outright bans on tailgating have become more common.]
The fan BAC study is believed to be the first of its kind conducted in the United States, but UM researchers have delved into the subject of fan intoxication and alcohol service at sporting events in the past. “The University of Minnesota did a study about two years ago where they hired actors to pretend to be drunk at stadiums and test the alcohol servers’ ability to observe warning signs,” says Jill Pepper, executive director of TEAM Coalition, which provides alcohol management training to partner professional sports teams and leagues. “And they used kids who were underage to test servers’ ID-checking skills. The results were similar to the results from this latest study.”
According to the university’s own report, Erickson feels that better training of alcohol servers and increased police patrols around sports stadiums could help deter some of the drinking. Pepper wishes that report had included examples of what is already being done. “I am disappointed that there was no mention of the positive steps to promote alcohol responsibility at stadiums,” she says, adding that these latest results don’t necessarily put stadiums in worse alcohol-management standing than other service settings. “I would be very interested to compare these results with a similar study done from patrons leaving bars, nightclubs or concert venues.”
ESPN, University of Texas to Launch Longhorn Network
Years in the making, a $300 million deal between ESPN, the University of Texas and IMG College, the Longhorns’ multimedia rights holder, is now in place for the launch this fall of the Longhorn Network.|
ESPN will own the network, which will broadcast around-the-clock coverage of UT events and related content over the next 20 years at a cost to ESPN of $15 million per year. Combined with the $10 million per year that UT currently receives from IMG, the university will now bank roughly $25 million in annual multimedia rights revenue. The Longhorns’ operating budget this year alone is $137 million, according to Sports Business Journal. The school sponsors 20 varsity sports programs serving 525 men and women student-athletes.
The Longhorn Network will broadcast some 200 athletic events each year, including one exclusive football game and rebroadcasts of games covered by other networks. Likewise, the UT men’s and women’s basketball programs will see exclusive game broadcasts plus encore game presentations, and Olympic sports will enjoy unprecedented exposure. Studio shows, documentaries and coverage of peripheral events such as pep rallies will round out the programming, as will academic, arts and cultural content and high school coverage. The deal also includes a companion broadband presence to cover events occurring simultaneously.
“This network will provide unmatched exposure for our sports programs and campus academic community,” stated DeLoss Dodds, UT men’s athletic director, during yesterday’s announcement. “ESPN is the global sports leader, and having this relationship on our campus will be special for all associated with the university.”
Blog: What Type of Culture Are You Growing?
If I were to ask a staff member who reports to you, “What are the three most important things your boss cares about?” what would he or she tell me?|
If you don’t know, I doubt your employees know. A leader who can quickly answer this question is ahead of the game. As a facility manager, I eventually chose “customer service,” “teamwork” and “initiative.” I found those three terms made a great roadmap for the job description, candidate selection, interview questions, the congratulatory phone call, the training outline, the evaluation process and even for succession planning. Customer service, teamwork and initiative became our mantra throughout our recreation facility.
Put yourself in the position of a prospective team member. After interviewing for a new position, imagine getting a phone call from the interviewer that starts like this: “During your interview, you demonstrated an understanding of customer service, teamwork and initiative. Because those traits are the basis of our success, we would like to invite you to join our team.” What a great way to reinforce the most important aspects of the role right from the beginning of your tenure.
To create a culture that will nurture your core values and support your mission statement, your team needs to know what that culture looks like.
Now, I am not saying that customer service, teamwork and initiative should be your three terms; everyone needs to create terms based on their specific focus. When I do this activity in my Supervisory Skills for Success workshop, I frequently hear aquatics professionals include the word “safety” as one of their three — that would apply to any of us in the leisure industry.
Tony Hsieh, CEO of Zappos.com Inc., used the strategy to build an online clothing and footware company so strong that Amazon would purchase it for $1.2 billion in 2009. Tony frequently shares that the Zappos Values are the basis for the positive culture at Zappos focusing on unparalleled customer service. The fun and family-type culture with a focus on employee happiness has helped Zappos.com become an online retail leader.
A positive culture thrives when leaders know who they are, what they stand for and where they want to go with their team. I encourage you to identify your three terms — or better yet, ask your staff what they think. It could be a great first step toward growing a positive culture for your workplace.
Wednesday, January 19, 2011
Failure to Test for Sickle Cell Trait Haunts School
A third official within the North Carolina A&T athletic department has been fired in the wake of a track prospect’s death last August.|
An investigation revealed that associate athletic director Merlene Aitken, along with several coaches, received an e-mail last August from chief athletics trainer Roland Lovelace asking coaches to save money by not testing prospective athletes for sickle cell trait. The e-mail was sent two days before Jospin “Andre” Milandu died at a track and field tryout. Aitken was fired Tuesday.
NCAA-mandated screening for sickle cell trait, a typically benign hereditary blood disorder that can cause health problems or death during periods of intense exercise, had taken effect in August. Cost of the test is approximately $10 per athlete.
The university fired athletics director Wheeler Brown and compliance director Darryl Hills in October. Aitken assumed Hills’ responsibilities in his absence, but a public records request made earlier this month by the Greensboro News & Record confirmed that Aitken had been among 10 recipients of the August e-mail. It remains unclear why the e-mail linking Aitken to Lovelace’s request hadn’t surfaced earlier.
Some of the coaches on that e-mail’s recipients list had also received an e-mail last June from then director of sports medicine Benicia Cleveland alerting them to the NCAA’s forthcoming testing mandate. Cleveland is currently employed at Winston-Salem State. On Tuesday, North Carolina A&T suspended Lovelace without pay.
The NCAA first recognized sickle cell trait as a student-athlete health concern in the mid-1970s, after a University of Colorado football player collapsed and died during a workout. Of the 21 football players nationwide who have collapsed and died over the past decade, at least nine were carriers of the sickle cell trait, which is found in 8 percent of African-Americans and between 1 in 2,000 and 1 in 10,000 Caucasians.
In June, USA Today reported that a survey by the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine found that 21 percent of universities had decided to test for the trait by 2006. Rice University, where freshman football player Dale Lloyd II died in September 2006, was not among schools testing at the time. Lloyd’s parents sued Rice and the NCAA, and a settlement reached in June 2009 spurred the August 2010 testing mandate, though student-athletes can still forgo sickle cell screening by signing a waiver.
An attorney representing the Milandu family, which rejected a $10,000 settlement offer from North Carolina A&T, made it clear to the News & Record this week that broad legal action against the university is possible, if not likely.
Headscarf Concerns Force Basketball Player to Miss First Half
A 12-year-old Muslim girl was forced to sit out the first half of a basketball game because a referee said her headscarf posed a safety risk. Seventh-grader Maheen Haq of Hagerstown, Md., was allowed to play the second half wearing the hijab after a league administrator for the Mid-Maryland Girls Basketball League granted her a religious exemption.|
According to most interpretations of the tenets of Islam, Muslim women
are not to be in public without hijabs (head and hair coverings and
loose-fitting, modest dress that leave only the hands, feet and face
Daphnie V. Campbell, the league's coordinator, defended the referee's action and told the Associated Press that the girl's parents must provide a letter stating that the headscarf is part of their daughter's religion and accept liability for any injuries. The requirement is consistent with Maryland Public Secondary Schools Athletic Association rules and should have been enforced at the start of the season last fall, Campbell added. The league isn't affiliated with the public schools, but it acts as a feeder to their basketball programs.
A spokesman for the Council on American-Islamic Relations, Ibrahim Hooper, said there are hijabs with tear-away strips designed for sports that Haq could wear. He also suggested that cases like these can usually be solved with cooperation from both sides. Nevertheless, the incident has angered the girl and her parents. "I felt discrimination and I was upset," Maheen's father, Mohammad S. Haq, told myfoxdc.com. "Obviously, she was crying and she wanted to leave."
Hijabs also have been an issue for other female athletes. FIFA, the governing body of world soccer, initially barred Iranian girls from participating in the inaugural Youth Olympics in Singapore last August for safety reasons and to prevent political or religious statements on the field. Iranian designers responded by creating a FIFA-approved outfit that included a cap, long-sleeved thick tops, below-knee trousers and long stockings.
Similarly, the idea of donning tight-fitting swimwear in a public recreation environment is almost unthinkable for traditional Muslims. So a municipal aquatics center in Cary, N.C., invited members of the Muslim community to raise $3,000 to install a retractable shade system for large windows overlooking the pool — providing the kind of women-only privacy required by the group's faith. And Fordson High School in Dearborn, Mich., held preseason football practices last August in the middle of the night — between 11 p.m. and 4 a.m. — to avoid scorching daytime temperatures and to help the team’s Muslim student-athletes practice both football and faith. Members of the school’s predominantly Muslim squad say the nocturnal regimen was a way for players to eat and drink while observing the holy month of daytime fasting known as Ramadan.
Blog: Fitness Facilities and the Crystal Ball
Oh, right, it’s the new year. Time to gaze into the crystal ball of fitness trends.
Authorities (such as the American College of Sports Medicine), people who think they’re authorities (ahem … bloggers), and everyone in between are weighing in about what’s hot, or what’s going to be hot, in 2011. Of course that leaves facility owners wondering what to invest in. A barre for muscle ballet? Pilates equipment? Underwater treadmills? How do you know the sure thing isn’t going to be gathering dust in a few years?
There’s no magic formula, but if you’re looking for ideas, a few key terms keep popping up for 2011: Kettlebells, boot camp, fitness programs for older adults, sports-specific training and Zumba. It’s easy to analyze the trend here: Facility owners are cutting back on expenses, or at least remaining conservative. What’s being predicted tends to fall into two categories: new programming that uses existing facilities, or new equipment that won’t take up a lot of space.
But predictions of the fitness soothsayers aren’t always accurate or lasting. ACSM expected to see the 24-hour fitness facility make its top 20 list of fitness trends — and it failed to register. Programs that were once white-hot (including Pilates and stability ball workouts) have dropped off the survey since last year.
In a time of economic uncertainty, maybe it’s better to use the facilities you have, improve what you can, boost programming options and make new investments sparingly. Follow fitness like you follow the stock market (or even fashion): with an eye toward trends, rather than on splashy fads.
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Wrestler's Mother Blames School for Son's Staph Infection
The mother of a 17-year-old high school wrestler who suffered a major head infection allegedly caused by a teammate is blaming school administrators and coaches for not informing other wrestlers of the teammate's condition. Stacey Carey — whose son, Jaylan Douglass, has been hospitalized since Saturday with an oozing head wound and a temperature of 104.5 degrees — also claims coaches at North Central High School in Indianapolis do not properly sanitize wrestling mats.|
According to local Fox affiliate WXIN, Carey says doctors are 99 percent positive Douglass contracted the infection (originally thought to be methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus, or MRSA) from his sparring partner — a senior with a head wound. Yet no one on the team was notified, she claims. "You allow a boy, knowingly, that has something going on to continue to come to school and to wrestle," Carey told local NBC affiliate WTHR. "Look at my son's head. The school knew that this young man had this, and you continue to let him wrestle and come to school? My son looks like he's been shot in his head."
"I get angry with my sparring partner," Douglass told WTHR's Eyewitness News team. "He didn't say anything about having something on his head, and the coaches said nothing." Douglass added that what began as a small but painful bump on his head
now requires antibiotics and has left him fighting a high
Mother and son claim they are still waiting for an explanation from the school, which issued the following statement Monday afternoon: "Wrestling mats at North Central are routinely sanitized after all practices and all meets, which is the standard procedure. Further, athletic trainers carefully monitor all student-athletes, and recommend medical care when appropriate. School officials will investigate specific details of this case, and will take appropriate steps to ensure student and staff safety. HIPAA regulations regarding medical privacy preclude any further comment on this matter."
The Centers for Disease Control estimates 30 percent of the nation's population carries staph infection on the skin or in their nose. In 2007, the Minnesota State High School League suspended wrestling for eight days after 24 cases of herpes gladiatorum — a permanent, recurring form of the herpes simplex type 1 virus that is transferred by skin-to-skin contact and characterized by lesions on the face, neck and arms — were confirmed among wrestlers from 10 different schools. The outbreak eventually impacted 40 wrestlers across 16 schools.
Oregon's New Basketball Court Gets Glaring Reviews
Football uniforms are easy to change, and the University of Oregon does it often. But the school’s new basketball court is another matter.|
Kilkenny Floor at Matthew Knight Arena debuted Thursday night on Fox Sports Net, but the television audience didn’t fully appreciate the floor’s unique design, which features brown and tan evergreen trees protruding toward center court from every boundary. That’s because glare on the floor caused by a ribbon board on the arena’s upper level washed out much of the hardwood artistry, or at least served as a “headache-inducing” distraction. Wrote Jeff Eisenberg of Rivals.com, “Add in the fact that the ribbon board changed color from white to yellow to green to blue every few seconds, and it made watching the game feel like staring into a strobe light.”
Other reviews were similarly prickly. “Oregon’s Court Glare a Real Pine for Some,” stated CBSSports.com. “Oregon’s New Basketball Court May Cause Retina Damage,” claimed SB Nation. A poll about the court at NESN.com sees “It’s obnoxious and hard to look at” leading “It’s different and cool” by 5 percentage points.
For 12,364 fans inside the new $227 million arena, a 35-minute opening ceremony was followed by a 68-62 Pac-10 victory by the last-place Ducks over Southern Cal. Not too hard on the eyes.
Blog: Athletic Association’s Appeal Cost Money, Achieved Nothing
April 2010 Sports Law column, I wrote about the Indiana High School Athletic Association’s decision to declare Jasmine Watson athletically ineligible following her transfer from Elkhart Memorial to Washington High School in South Bend. The IHSAA’s decision was overturned by the Court of Appeal of Indiana on Dec. 9, 2009, and Watson was allowed to play the remainder of her senior season at Washington, which made it all the way to the Indiana Class 4-A state championship game.
In my |
A year later, with Watson having graduated from high school, the Indiana State Supreme Court has overturned the appeals court and ruled that Watson should have been ineligible to play her senior season. I could ramble on about the unfairness off the IHSAA’s original decision, but my purpose here is to point out the impact of the Supreme Court’s decision. Imagine, for example, that Washington High School actually won its final game: The court’s decision would have effectively stripped the school and the players of a state championship. While that might be fine if both sides were actually defending the case in front of the court, the problem is that once the athlete is awarded an injunction, he or she no longer has any reason to defend the case in court and incur additional attorney’s fees. For example, Watson, who is now a member of the University of Massachusetts women’s basketball team, has no reason to continue fighting the case in court. That’s why, when state athletic associations file an appeal in these types of cases, they almost always win.
Since the games have all been played, the trophies have been handed out and many of the students have graduated, any victory the athletic association may achieve is hollow. It makes you wonder what purpose the appeal served. Both sides already had their day in court, and for whatever reason the court ruled that the athlete was allowed to play — the athletic associations should just have considered the issue moot and saved their member schools money by ending the ongoing legal battle. Besides, no matter how many legal victories the state athletic association can claim, it is not going to stop the next high school athlete ruled ineligible from going to court to seek an injunction against the ruling.
Monday, January 17, 2011
Who Should Pay for the Roof Over the Vikings' Heads?
A disagreement is brewing in Los Angeles over two developers' competing
visions for a potential stadium that might help bring the NFL back to
the country's second largest media market. In Miami, public officials
and hoteliers are squaring off in a battle over the costs of a potential
renovations to Sun Life Stadium, home of the Miami Dolphins. In
Minneapolis, meanwhile, the wrangling over a potential replacement for
the Metrodome has taken on a more traditional flavor, with the NFL's
Vikings alternating demands with veiled threats, and a populace and
legislature stuck having to decide whether the team's needs or the
public's needs come first.|
of the dome's roof in December has surprisingly had little to do with
the arguments taking shape. If anything, the incident has brought the
sides closer together on the need for a new venue. The question is what
type to build. The Vikings have pledged to pay a third of a new
stadium's construction cost, but have made it clear that another dome
doesn't serve its interests, and that the team won't help pay for that
portion of the project. "A roof does not provide any benefit to the
Vikings," the team's vice president of public affairs and stadium
development, Lester Bagley,
told The Associated Press last week. "It also costs a couple hundred
million dollars more in capital costs, in addition to the operating
costs that are much higher for a covered facility."
The city and
state counter that to make a significant public investment in a new
stadium, it must be able to host the college, high school and
entertainment events that the Metrodome has so ably hosted for decades.
State Sen. Julie Rosen (R-Fairmont), likely lead sponsor of a stadium
bill expected to be introduced next month, conceded that a permanent or
retractable roof would add another few hundred million dollars to an
estimated $700 million project, but told reporters, "If you're going to
put this much capital, this much sweat and tears into it, you're going
to need a 365-day facility like the Metrodome."
of the problem will depend on legislators' willingness to fund
construction in the teeth of a statewide $6.2 billion deficit, with the
knowledge that not one but two firms in Los Angeles would doubtless be
ready to swoop in and compete for the team should a deal fail to
materialize in Minneapolis.
Former KU Athletics Officials Admit to Ticket Scam
Two former University of Kansas athletics officials admitted last week their roles in scamming the school out of $2 million worth of football and basketball tickets over a six-year period.|
Kassie Liebsch, who joined the KU ticket office as a 22-year-old student in 2002 and left as director of ticket operations last fall, pleaded guilty on Thursday to a single count of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. On Friday, former assistant athletic director Rodney Jones changed his plea from not guilty and admitted his part in the conspiracy that began in 2005.
In all, five former co-workers were indicted Nov. 18. Prosecutors alleged that the defendants stole the tickets from a pool meant for donors, then sold them to individuals or ticket brokers, earning $5 million in the process. According to an Associated Press report, the scheme unraveled last year after the Internal Revenue Service noticed an inordinate amount of season tickets being sold by one broker whose checks for about $975,000 were cashed by Jones’ friend at the broker’s bank.
Jones, 42, had been in charge of the university’s Williams Educational Fund, which uses athletic ticket sales to fund academic and athletic scholarships. Charlette Blubaugh, Liebsch’s predecessor in the ticket office, had created the ticket pool for donors. According to The Kansas City Star, Jones in 2005 began giving Liebsch cash and showed her how to purchase money orders in amounts small enough to avoid federal detection.
Liebsch and Jones face 20-year prison sentences, though much shorter terms are expected. Sentencing has been scheduled for March 30, though that could be delayed depending on how cases against the other co-defendants proceed.
According to the Star, the controversy contributed in part to fan and donor dissatisfaction with then athletic director Lew Perkins, who retired in September, a year earlier than expected.
Blog: We Quote Prices Over the Phone
“What’s your price?”|
“I’m sorry, I can’t tell you.”
That conversation will happen more this month than at any time during the rest of the year. Health club prospects all over the world will call their neighborhood clubs looking for pricing information, only to be told, “We can’t tell you that.”
Really? Is it a secret?
The dogma that “we don’t quote prices over the phone” is seemingly as old as the health club business itself, and its age is glaring in a world in which anyone can find out anything all the time. Certainly, we understand — we don’t want the answer to this easy but superficial question to define our facilities, either. We want our prospects to visit us and see our value, not just our price.
In the eyes of many consumers, it’s bad enough not to include prices on your website — and we don’t. Why not? Well, we have an annual membership, a month-to-month option, pool-only, weekend-only and family flavors of each of those. We also offer teen discounts, corporate discounts, insurance discounts and maybe more. With all those options, our website simply says, “Call us for prices.”
We’re willing to give pricing information over the phone because the phone gives us an opportunity to ask questions. Instead of responding to the superficial question, “What’s your price?” we can talk to potential customers. “Sure, I’ll be happy to tell you about our prices, but can I ask you some questions first to find out which of our membership options makes the most sense for you?” And then we’re off and running, building rapport before the prospect has even set foot inside the club, and giving them the right information to help them make an informed choice.
If you were the consumer, wouldn’t that be more satisfactory? Wouldn’t you feel good about a health club that respected you enough to address your questions on the spot, in an intelligent and complete manner? Wouldn’t you?
That’s okay. You don’t have to tell us.
Friday, January 14, 2011
South Dakota City Invests Big in Recreation Surveys
Sioux Falls, S.D., recreation officials are allocating $21,000 for a citywide survey designed to gauge residents' collective interest in recreation opportunities. And if history is any indication, the expense can be viewed as an important investment in a range of future recreation programs and facilities. |
According to Sioux Falls Argus Leader reports, a similar survey in 2000 led the department to make widely favored upgrades to the city's parks and recreation infrastructure. For example, after residents said they wanted more adult evening recreation opportunities, the city created a kickball league, which now has approximately 135 teams.
The 2000 survey also led the department to focus on upgrades to its existing sports fields and bike paths. "We really used it a lot," recreation department director Don Kearney said of the survey, according to an Argus Leader report.
But the first survey also illustrated that although residents may desire certain recreation options, that doesn't necessarily mean they're ready and willing to pay for them. A vast majority of respondents in 2000 said they wanted in indoor recreation center. But when faced with a referendum five years later that would have provided funding for one, they "shot it down in a blaze of glory," as city councilor Michelle Erpenbach put it.
The council is mailing 6,000 four-page recreation surveys to different areas and demographics throughout the city of approximately 158,000 people. The 2000 survey yielded a 17 percent response rate.
Texas High School First to Get Red-Carpet Field Treatment
Eastern Washington University, Canyon High School in New Braunfels, Texas, unveiled a new red synthetic turf at Cougar Stadium this week. The school's football/soccer field has been dyed to match its red and black team colors. The Comal Independent School District spent $800,000 to replace turf fields at Canyon and Smithson Valley high schools, and lay down a new surface at Canyon Lake High School, according to the San Antonio Express-News. Smithson Valley and Canyon Lake have colored end zones (blue and gold, respectively), but administrators there opted for traditional green playing fields.
Could red be the new blue? Following the lead of |
"It's not as bad as you might think it is," Canyon boys' soccer coach Rob Rush
told the Austin American-Statesman on Thursday after his team posted a 2-1 victory over Lockhart on the new red field. "You get
used to it pretty quick. The first time I looked down, I lost focus, but you
adjust pretty quickly. The players love it."
Media outlets initially reported that Canyon is the first high school in the country to install colored turf; rather, it is believed to be the first one to have a red field. Hidalgo High — about 275 miles south of New Braunfels — laid down a dark blue field in 2007, and at least three other high schools have blue turf, too, a la Boise State University: Barrow (Alaska) High, Lovington (N.M.) High and West Hills High in Santee, Calif.
Thursday, January 13, 2011
Guinness Sets Record 'Big Chill' Crowd at 104,173
outdoor hockey game played last month between the University of Michigan and Michigan State drew 104,173 fans to Michigan Stadium, according to the ticket counters at Guinness World Records.
It’s official — finally. The Big Chill at the Big House |
Though smaller than the announced crowd of 113,411 — which would have represented an NCAA single-game standard for any sport — it still obliterates the previous world record for ice hockey at any level by 27,370 fans. Moreover, the official attendance on Dec. 11 was nearly the equivalent of 16 capacity crowds at Yost Arena, where the Wolverines typically host their hockey games. Considering there are 18 games scheduled at Yost in 2010-11, Michigan came close to packing a season’s worth of home ticket sales into one event.
Michigan set the NCAA football attendance record last season in the newly renovated stadium (capacity 109,901) when it drew 113,090 fans to a game against Connecticut. Were it a football game, the Big Chill would have ranked 19th in attendance among games played in 2010, according to the NCAA.
Fired High School Basketball Coach Blames Donors
The Arizona Republic is reporting that the boys' basketball coach at Gilbert Christian High in Gilbert, Ariz., has been fired as a result of pressure from donors. Steve Currier, who started the basketball program at the small private school seven years ago and led it to a pair of Class 1A championships — including last season, when the Knights went 32-0 — told the paper that school superintendent Jim Desmarchais contacted him at his place of employment Monday and summoned him to a meeting with Desmarchais, a major donor and other individuals. Currier said it was determined by the donor and a group of parents financially tied to the donor that his coaching style was "too negative." Replace him, or there would be "consequences," Currier claimed.
"The pressure was too great for the administration of the school, and while they openly admitted that there was no evidence that would substantiate a warning, let alone a terminable offense, they terminated me," Currier wrote in an e-mail. When Arizona Republic reporter Richard Obert asked Desmarchais to respond to Currier's claims, the superintendent wrote in an e-mail, "Thanks for asking, but I have no comment."
Gilbert Christian was 12-3 under Currier this season, with two of its losses to teams from much larger 5A schools.
Lesbian Personal Trainers Sue Club Over Termination, Hostile Environment
terminated after complaining about the club’s hostile environment.
A federal lawsuit filed by two personal trainers fired from David Barton Gyms, a New York City club chain, alleges that they were the victims of sexual harassment, |
Lesbians Deborah Cooke and Christina Rodino charge that they were the butt of gay jokes and comments about their sexuality by straight trainers (one of whom, the suit alleges, hounded them for sex) and a general manager (who, the lawsuit further alleges, saved Cooke’s contact information in his cell phone under the name "Dyke Cooke").
The club’s original location in Manhattan’s Chelsea neighborhood enjoys a reputation as a gay-friendly gym. According to the New York Daily News, in a 2005 lawsuit, a straight male member sued the gym, claiming gay sex was rampant in the locker room and that other members gawked at him as he undressed. Barton's attorney, Brian Haskel, told the paper that the two women were fired because they were working with outside clients (the plaintiffs say straight trainers do the same), and that the club “prides itself on its commitment to diversity, freedom of expression and tolerance.”
Cooke and Rodino seek unspecified damages for "lost wages, lost benefits, other economic damages, shame, humiliation, embarrassment and mental distress," according to the lawsuit.
Blog: Serving Notice to Your Clueless Customers
Just when we think we’ve seen it all, we realize we haven’t. Allow us to rephrase that: Just when we think we’ve smelled it all.|
Yes, someone recently smoked pot in the men’s locker room. It certainly got some members excited (“We didn’t know you guys offered that!”), but as owners, we face the more mundane task of deciding how to prevent a recurrence of the problem. Our question: Do we need to put up a sign that says, “PLEASE DON’T SMOKE POT IN THE HEALTH CLUB”?
Actually, it appears we do. If recent history is any guide, we’ll have to print that one up, along with these:
• NO SEX IN THE POOL, PLEASE
The best part of that incident was how the member who witnessed it reported it to the front desk staff. She said, “I don’t mean to be a bother, but there is a couple having sex in the pool and I feel a little uncomfortable in there.” A little uncomfortable? Try being the one who had to tell them to knock it off.
• NO HANGING UPSIDE DOWN IN THE SQUAT RACK
This sign would be for the guest who pulled the monkey-bar maneuver on a quiet Saturday afternoon. No gravity boots or anything. Just her, dangling like a lawsuit waiting to happen. She sweetly explained that she “always” does that. Fortunately, she never joined.
• NO SHOWER CURTAINS = PLEASE DO NOT SHOWER
We had announced (and put up signs) well ahead of time that the showers in the women’s locker room would be unavailable during re-grouting. We put up yellow caution tape. We took down the shower curtains. And yet, a member took a freakin’ shower and ruined the grout work.
This beat out the member who, while we were resurfacing the pool deck, moved furniture out of the way, took down caution tape, unlocked the door, turned on the lights and walked on the deck in order to swim. He was shocked — shocked! — to learn that the pool was closed.
Is there a lesson in these incidents? Maybe. Keep your sense of humor. You never know what will happen when dealing with the public. The best-laid plans of mice and men are usually equivalent. We’re not sure we’ll go through with this, but we’re thinking of posting this sign:
SHOWER UNDER REPAIR: PLEASE DON’T SMOKE A JOINT WHILE HAVING SEX UPSIDE DOWN WITHOUT A CURTAIN
Wednesday, January 12, 2011
No National High School Championships on the Horizon
In a reaffirmation of its 77-year opposition to national high school sports championships, state representatives at the National Federation of State High School Associations' winter meetings defeated a proposed amendment that would have allowed the organization to conduct national championships in golf and cross country.|
A total of 22 member state associations voted to allow the bylaw change, with 21 voting against it. But because a two-thirds majority — 34 states — is needed to change the by-law, the amendment failed. (Representatives from eight states were unable to attend the winter meetings, but their votes would not have affected the outcome.)
As part of the 2008-2011 NFHS Strategic Plan, the federation's staff was instructed to develop model national championships in several sports for consideration by its membership. After nationwide discussions last summer and fall, golf and cross country emerged as the two sports "that made the most sense in terms of logistics for actually being able to conduct a state championship," says John Gillis, one of the organization's assistant directors.
Since the federation's original declaration against national championships in 1934, the only other recorded vote by its membership against supporting or sanctioning national championships occurred in 1979, when proposed events in track and field, golf and tennis were shot down. "The continued opposition to national championships by our membership reaffirms the belief that state championship competition should be the culminating activity for high school student-athletes," says Bob Gardner, executive director of the NFHS.
Adds Gillis, "I know some people want to see a championship in certain sports, but I don't know if that's ever going to happen."
Blog: Beyond the Brick and Mortar Fitness Facility
What does it take to look beyond the brick and mortar fitness facility — your primary source of business — and instead focus on the greater needs of the consumer? Who is positioned to truly contribute to creating healthy communities around the United States and possibly the world? Take a look at a new offering from Technogym called "The Key." While not the first company to develop a pedometer type of product, it may very well be the first to link the gym with other fitness activities that happen away from the gym. |
Scientifically validated at Arizona State University and by the British Journal of Sports Medicine, The Key's capabilities allow for measuring various ranges of motion and intensity, tracking biometrics and providing advice to a user on how to improve. One can also send messages to other people who are wearing the device.
Read any news report and you’ll see that despite the preponderance of well-equipped and accessible health and fitness facilities, the frightening rise of obesity and cardiovascular disease continues. In our fast-paced and super-sized culture, being healthy is increasingly difficult because life has become so easy. When it comes to exercise, we want an app for that. Having to work harder and evolve the same type of exercise products in a low- to no-growth market doesn’t make good business sense. Manufacturers have seen that vividly in 2010.
Fitness is important; fitness facilities are not. Improving the health and well being of families is vital to our economy and our nation. Engaging consumers in sustainable physical activity requires subtle yet powerful shifts in our approach. Much like a house of worship reinforces a lifestyle commitment with every visit, an experience in our fitness facilities can provide the necessary guidance and social reinforcement that supports the way we live and exercise when away from the center. To continue to be necessary, facilities must be a part of the long-term solution.
With the introduction of The Key, Technogym proves it is prepared to walk the talk, by making it inspiring and educational for all of us to do the same. Look for the official launch of this unique product in the first half of 2011.
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
Blog: New Tennis Rules Deserve Your Attention
Unless you’ve been living in a fallout shelter, you've heard about tennis making a comeback in the U.S. There are more players on the courts, new American faces on the pro tour and recently, an uptick in U.S. apparel sales. That’s all good news if you have tennis courts, and better still if you have team or league programming, Tennis On Campus, or instruction on any level.|
What you may not have heard: There are new rules for some of those new players, particularly the younger generation. The U.S. Tennis Association has been championing the QuickStart Tennis play format (QST), which incorporates smaller courts, lower nets, shorter racquets and low-compression balls made of foam. And really, it's about time — Little League Baseball has succeeded where tennis has failed previously because LLB not only teaches the skills but right-sizes the venues.
In QuickStart, programming is divided by age — 10 and under and 8 and under. In the past, all juniors players competed on regulation-size courts (60 feet wide by 120 feet long), but a recent and pivotal USTA rule change will result in all 10-and-under tournaments being played using the new equipment, on smaller courts. This follows the International Tennis Federation’s proposed rule change and takes effect on Jan. 1, 2012. It applies to all USTA-sanctioned events for children 10 and under.
It's impossible to describe how to line a court for kids; images and tools are available at www.usta.com (type "10 and Under" into the search box in the upper right hand corner). There is information on suppliers of balls, racquets and nets if you're interested. For those who aren't ready to mark their courts permanently with the new lines, USTA sells tennis marking tape — although really, painter's tape is a good substitute to delineate playing spaces on smooth indoor wooden or acrylic surfaces.
Granted, some readers will shrug off this concept. And maybe it's because their facilities don't see much action from the 10-and-under set. But consider this: the QST format is also being used to teach tennis to seniors, beginner wheelchair players, and even to individuals with developmental disabilities. Those are all populations that need to be welcomed to the sport, and to fitness in general.
Tennis is a game with a long and distinguished history, and this is the first major and extensive rule change to come along in decades. It's worth paying attention to.
Monday, January 10, 2011
Rec Director Positions Go Unfilled in Troubled Economy
MyCentralJersey.com that the appropriation was a purely political move aimed at diminishing his full-time status.
In late December, the Plainfield, N.J., city council approved multiple amendments to the city’s approximately $70 million budget. Among them was the transfer of $30,000 from full-time parks and recreation department salaries to seasonal, part-time salaries. In response, Dave Wynn told |
“It’s personal,” Wynn told reporter Mark Spivey, adding that his department was “bar none, the most productive division” in the city. “No one can tell me anything different.”
At least Wynn has a job. As municipalities have struggled with the economic downturn, some have tried to make due by cutting funding for the recreation department director position altogether.
For example, the town of Landis, N.C., only advertised for a replacement parks and rec director nearly half a year after the previous one had retired, and that after the town board twice voted to disband the entire department (in both instances, the board was swayed by the former rec director to merely make cuts to and reorganize the already small department.)
The city of Manitowoc, Wis., meanwhile, has been operating without a parks and recreation director for more than a year, since the January 2010 retirement of former director Joe McLafferty. Despite mayor Justin Nickels’ vocal calls during last year’s budget hearings for re-establishing a department head, the city opted to save the estimated $92,924 cost associated with the position for 2011, according to the city’s Herald Times Reporter. The budget cut came after city leaders chose, but never actually hired, a new department head, Adam Backus, in October.
“I strongly believe Mr. Backus — looking over his history — would pay for his position by the grants he would receive, the leadership he would provide and the vision he would have for the future of our parks and recreation department,” Nickels said in a January press release.
At the time of this writing, Backus remained in the wings while the city of approximately 35,000 residents operated without a recreation department head. “I do not want to see our parks and recreation programs diminished because of the lack of vision and leadership in the department,” Nickels said in his release. “Adding these responsibilities to other department heads will only make our parks and recreation programs a lower priority.”
Seahawks Fans Rock the House — Literally
The Pacific Northwest Seismic Network recorded a small tremor at 4:43 p.m. Saturday — precisely the time that Seattle Seahawks running back Marshawn Lynch broke eight tackles on his 67-yard touchdown scamper at Qwest Field, sealing a 41-36 victory for the underdog NFC West champions over the New Orleans Saints.
While Qwest Field is famous for its crowd noise, PNSN scientists claim their readings show what was the first recorded earthquake caused by the NFL's so-called 12th man. Network director John Vidale told the Associated Press that he was inspired to look at the seismic graphs after watching a video posted on the Internet from the upper deck of the stadium and noticing the shaking as Lynch completed his TD run. Vidale said the shaking lasted about 30 seconds and then faded off for another minute.
Seahawks fans aren't the first to rattle their foundations, though. College crowds at the University of Central Florida and the University of Wisconsin have caused their football stadiums to shake by jumping up and down in unison during action on the field and to loud prerecorded music.
Blog: Protecting Your College Program with a Buyout Clause
Ralph Friedgen, who was fired by the University of
Maryland after being named coach of the year in the ACC. In addition to
Friedgen (his replacement is Randy Edsall, who left the University
of Connecticut to accept the job), the University of Miami fired its coach,
Randy Shannon, and has replaced him with Al Golden, who left Temple University.
The University of Pittsburgh fired Dave Wannstedt, but as I write this, the
Pitt job is still unfilled.
As the college football bowl
season comes to an end, another season begins. Not the professional football
playoffs or college basketball conference play — the annual game of musical chairs in
college football. The first big name to lose his job was |
What is interesting about the three
coaches is not that they were fired — every college coach knows that he or she
will more than likely be fired at some point. What is fascinating here is that all
three were fired from their alma mater
after posting winning records and taking their teams to bowl games. While I
know it seems that every college football team with a non-losing record goes to
a bowl game — it's not the accomplishment it used to be — it is still the goal of
all college teams.
So, if the
teams were winning and the schools were staying out of trouble with the NCAA and
the police, why fire the coaches? The simple answer is money. Even though it is
going to cost the schools millions of dollars to buy the coaches and their
assistant coaches out of their contracts — in Friedgen’s case, the University
of Maryland will pay him more than $2 million — the schools, and more
importantly, some of their boosters, believe that they can make even more money
if their teams win a few more games.
departments have a simple way to protect their schools from this high-stakes
game: Make sure that any contract involving coaches includes a
buyout clause. The buyout clause allows the school to remove its coach without
paying the full value remaining on the contract. For example, instead of paying
Friedgen more than $2 million, the University of
Maryland could pay him a percentage of his salary for each of the years
remaining. The buyout also works for the coach. Under contract law, Randy Edsall should
not be allowed to leave for the Maryland job since he is under contact with UConn. The buyout clause in Edsall’s contract with UConn will
allow him to pay the school a percentage of his contract to get out of it.
Thursday, January 06, 2011
StubHub Yanks BCS Championship Tickets
CNBC, a big seller who had already sold tickets on the site told the company that he wouldn't have enough tickets to satisfy the amount he posted for sale. Because StubHub guarantees every purchase — and has done so since its founding more than a decade ago — the company was concerned that some customers who bought tickets wouldn't receive them.
Popular ticket site StubHub has pulled all of its tickets to Monday's BCS National Championship Game at University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz. According to |
"We have purchased as many tickets as are available to help fill customers' orders, however we are still short of tickets due to the incredibly high demand for this game," StubHub spokeswoman Joellen Ferrer told sports business reporter Darren Rovell. On Thursday, she added, the site began offering more than double the purchase price for anyone who bought their tickets on StubHub originally, has them in hand or was supposed to pick them up at the stadium, and is willing to sell.
Despite yanking its remaining inventory for Monday's clash between Oregon and Auburn, the game has become the top-selling event in StubHub history, according to Rovell, with the average price for a ticket right around $1,000.
Wednesday, January 05, 2011
Blog: Personal Training Is Not 'Just Renting Friends'
said that people doing personal training are "just renting friends,"
and he indicated that personal training — and the selling of it —
disrupted Planet Fitness's "judgment-free zone." It also seems that PF
will use its lack of personal training availability as a marketing point
— "We’ll never try to sell you anything you don’t want!"
In announcing that Planet Fitness will no longer offer Personal Training, CEO |
why so negative? Why so — dare we say — judgmental? Do you really have
to tear down a whole segment of our business because personal training
doesn’t fit at Planet Fitness? Is it really that big a deal to admit
that something you tried didn’t work out? PF doesn’t offer pools, so are
you going to say that aquatic exercise and swimming are a waste of time
and money? You don’t offer childcare services, so does that mean that
consumers who appreciate childcare at other clubs are wrong?
just before this news hit, we were speaking at the Athletic Business
Conference and Expo about how to build a personal training program.
Among other topics, we discussed how important personal training’s
revenue stream can be to most facilities. One attendee asked, “Are there
times when you would suggest a gym not offer personal training?” Our
answer included how low-priced clubs (like Planet Fitness) might not
want to bother with personal training because their business model is
based on selling lots of inexpensive memberships. Trying to sell
personal training in that environment might be difficult because your
members have already voted with their wallets that they don’t want to
spend a lot of money. The level of expected service is also lower
(Planet Fitness once described its customer service as “hello” and
“goodbye”) and in a very busy, low-priced club, there simply might not
be room on the workout floor to accommodate personal training.
bottom line — there’s nothing wrong with Planet Fitness or any other
club not offering personal training if it doesn’t make sense for them.
Do you know why we don’t offer $10/month memberships? Because it doesn’t
make sense for us. Do you know why we offer childcare? Because it does.
So, relax Mike. Business seems to be pretty good at Planet Fitness. Personal training just isn’t your thing.
New Ticket Promo Turns Fans into Famous Racing Sausages
grounds crew, take batting practice, operate the stadium's retractable roof, travel as part of the Brewers contingent to the 2011 MLB Amateur Draft and even run in the Klement's Famous Sausage Race.
With a season-ticket promotion that takes the spirit of Minor League Baseball giveaways to a loftier level, the Milwaukee Brewers are sweetening the deal for fans who purchase or renew season ticket packages of 20 games or more for 2011. The team is providing opportunities to join Miller Park's |
Each day between Jan. 17 and Feb. 25, one seat holder will be selected to win the prize designated for that day. The winner of the final day's drawing will sign a one-day Major League Baseball contract, complete with a full Brewers uniform and one day's pay at the league's minimum salary. "This has been an exciting off-season for Brewers fans, and this program is designed to reward our Season Seat Holders for their exceptional support," Rick Schlesinger, Brewers executive vice president of business operations, said in announcing the promotion — referring in part to the team's headline-making trade that brought Kansas City Royals ace and 2009 Cy Young Award winner Zack Greinke to Milwaukee in December. "Our goal was to come up with a promotion offering prizes and experiences that are priceless."
A complete list of prizes can be found here.
Tuesday, January 04, 2011
NHL's Winter Classic Has Its Critic
More than 68,000 people witnessed it in person. Nearly 5 million people watched it on television. Dan Shaughnessy never wants to see it again.|
Shaughnessy, a Boston Globe and Sports Illustrated columnist, has cooled on the idea of outdoor hockey after attending the latest NHL Winter Classic in unseasonably balmy Pittsburgh on New Year’s Day. Shaughnessy admits to being all for previous Winter Classics staged in Buffalo, Boston and Chicago. “It just wasn't the same last Saturday night as I watched the Penguins and Capitals slushing around on soft, watery ice at night in the middle of Heinz Field,” wrote Shaughnessy earlier this week at si.com. “The Caps beat the Penguins, 3-1, but this was not what the league had in mind.”
You can only plan so far in advance for weather. And while outdoor ice can be maintained in 50-degree temperatures, there’s no escaping rain. The NHL tried, pushing the game to primetime from its previously scheduled 1 p.m. start, but the league can’t be too miserable about the public’s growing interest in outdoor hockey. NBC’s broadcast of the 2011 Winter Classic drew the largest TV audience for any NHL game in 36 years. According to the network, each of the four Classics ranks among the top five most-watched regular-season games during that time span.
That Shaughnessy is suddenly soft on the concept of “the outdoor hockey game” is surprising, considering that an announced crowd of 113,411 saw the University of Michigan hockey team host Michigan State outdoors in December. That number would set an NCAA record for attendance at any sporting event, but Guinness World Records has certified the ticket count for “The Big Chill at The Big House” at 85,451 — still good enough for the international ice hockey single-game attendance record. (The high temperature in Ann Arbor on game day was 42 degrees.) The University of Wisconsin has hosted two outdoor hockey games — in Green Bay, and more recently in Madison — and both saw sufficiently chilly weather and warm fan reception.
Perhaps the NHL should be more climate-conscious when staging future Classics (New York’s Citi Field and Yankee Stadium are widely considered the leading candidates for 2012), but calling for the NHL “to come back inside to play” strikes this writer as unnecessarily cold.
Monday, January 03, 2011
Some Colleges Have Struggled to Sell Bowl Tickets
In honor of its 14th consecutive bowl appearance, Georgia Tech offered
$14 tickets to the Independence Bowl in Shreveport, La., but still only
sold slightly more than half of its 10,000-ticket allotment. Atlantic
Coast Conference brethren Boston College, Clemson and North Carolina
experienced similar struggles, falling between 4,000 and 5,000 tickets
short of selling out. Virginia Tech, which lost $1.77 million due to
unsold Orange Bowl tickets in 2009, fared worst of all, selling fewer
than 7,000 tickets from its allotment of 17,500 for this year’s Jan. 3
Discover Orange Bowl.|
“There are two groups of people who go to bowl games,” says Zack
Lassiter, assistant athletic director for ticket operations at the
University of Utah and a charter member of NCAA Proactive Ticket Sales
Professionals, a peer group that shares best practices. “Every school
has that base of people for whom it doesn’t matter who you’re playing or
where the game is, they’re going to go. It’s become their family’s
holiday tradition. There’s the second group of fans for whom everything
factors in — the opponent, the city, how economically they can travel to
While Utah’s fan base for bowls is growing, it’s not enough to cover a
given ticket allotment, according to Lassiter, who came within 1,000
tickets of selling out his 11,000-ticket allotment for the Dec. 22 Maaco
Las Vegas Bowl against media darling Boise State.
Virginia Tech’s latest ticket troubles came despite Hokies’ head coach
Frank Beamer encouraging reporters at a press conference following the
ACC championship game to “be sure to tell our fans to buy their Orange
Bowl tickets through us, not anywhere else.”
Photo by Doug Murray/Icon SMI
Beyond staying home, fans indeed have options. Not only do the bowls
retain the best seats for their own sales efforts, the secondary ticket
market often has deals too good for fans to ignore. “That is an issue
that I and my colleagues, other athletic directors, have been fighting
for the last couple of years,” Virginia Tech athletic director Jim
Weaver told The Virginian-Pilot in mid-December. “We could sell more of
our tickets if we had better tickets to sell.”
Mercifully, the ACC doesn’t leave its members entirely on the hook.
Schools are responsible for the first 6,000 tickets and partially
responsible for the next 2,000. The conference covers any unsold tickets
beyond that. Some conferences, including the Pac-10 and Big 12, absorb
the cost of all unsold bowl tickets. On the other end of the spectrum
sits the Big East. “We pay our BCS rep $2 million to go to the game, and
then we also have a travel allowance, which will come to about
$300,000,” says Big East associate commissioner John Paquette. “But the
league does not share in ticket losses.”
That’s bad news for first-time BCS bowl rep Connecticut, which as of
late December had sold only 4,600 tickets out of its 17,500-ticket
allotment for the Jan. 1 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. (The bowl considers those
17,500 tickets sold, since the school is under contractual obligation
to buy them, regardless of whether they are resold or not.) Connecticut
sold its entire inventory of $111 tickets, but still held thousands
priced at $155, $235 and $255 — a collective value of more than $2
million. It didn’t help that tickets could be found at stubhub.com for
less than $25 in the weeks leading up to the game. “The secondary market
is a killer,” UConn athletic director Jeff Hathaway told the
Connecticut Post. “You can’t deny it.”
Like Virginia Tech’s Beamer, Huskies’ coach Randy Edsall (who has since
left for the University of Maryland) made a plea to fans to buy tickets
through the school, but he was asking a lot. In addition to its ticket
allotment, UConn was faced with a hotel obligation of 550 rooms, priced
at $125 to $225 per night, for three or seven nights, according to the
New Haven Register. Add to that the matter of getting from Storrs or
anywhere else in New England to Scottsdale, Ariz., and it became easier
to understand why Husky fans stayed away in droves.
“The biggest factor is whether your fans can drive there or if they have
to fly,” says Utah’s Lassiter, who admits his team has had the recent
good fortune of playing in bowls located relatively close by. “Because
Las Vegas is a five-and-a-half-hour drive from Salt Lake City, we had an
inherent advantage. And Las Vegas is an attractive place for people to
spend a couple of days.”
Nebraska, too, drew a choice bowl destination this season. Trouble was,
the Huskers had just been to San Diego last bowl season, and had played
this year’s Holiday Bowl opponent, Washington, in a 2010 non-conference
road game. “We had a lot of people go out to San Diego last year and
support us, and we had probably an even bigger following head to Seattle
in September,” says Holly Adam, Nebraska’s assistant athletic director
for ticketing. “We knew it would be a little tougher ticket to sell.”
Nebraska’s Holiday Bowl Blitz, which took place Dec. 20 and 21,
accounted for roughly 1,250 ticket sales, pushing the Huskers’ total
past 8,100 — still well shy of their 11,000-ticket allotment. For those
two days, the school waived handling fees on purchases (tickets were
priced at $60) and tossed in a pair of seats to the men’s basketball Big
12 opener (to be played during the students’ winter break). Fans who
placed ticket orders during one hour of the Dec. 20 “Sports Nightly”
radio show were entered into a drawing for Husker merchandise signed by
former players and Tom Osborne, the legendary NU coach and current
athletic director. More than 100 tickets were sold, according to Adam.
Nebraska also encouraged fans not able to make the trip to purchase
tickets and donate them to armed services personnel in the San Diego
area. Oklahoma has run similar military promotions, and Missouri and
Connecticut did likewise this season. “We had somebody call who wanted
to buy 20,” Adam says.
Like most bowl-bound schools, Nebraska was not surprised to find that
its fan representation at the Holiday Bowl exceeded the school’s own
ticket sales. “We do know of some people who were going to go directly
through the bowl, because the bowl has better tickets to sell in better
locations,” Adam says. “Obviously, we would take better seats. If
something were to change, we would welcome that change. But I understand
the bowl’s part in trying to sell tickets, too.”
CNBC sports business reporter Darren Rovell seems less understanding,
writing on Dec. 17, “Something has to change. Schools have to say enough
is enough. This system is broken and we can’t do it anymore. But while
athletic directors complain and complain, no one has stepped up.”
Is the sheer number of bowls — a record 35 this season — working against
ticket sales? Fourteen teams with .500 winning percentages played in
this postseason, including one that went 2-6 in conference play. “I
don’t see a problem with 35 bowls, if they can be filled,” says Fiesta
Bowl ticket manager Adam Lehe, who points out that the bowl has sold out
25 of the past 26 years. “I think the bowls are great. The experience
for the players, the fans and the coaching staffs really make the bowls
Purdue University associate athletic director Glenn Tompkins would
agree, despite the fact that the Boilermakers will make more money ($2.7
million in shared Big Ten Conference bowl revenue) by not qualifying
for this postseason than it netted from an appearance in the 2000 Rose
Bowl ($600). “The individual increases in licensing, revenue, fundraising — these are opportunities that all make a bowl trip a very
valuable experience,” Tompkins told WFLI-TV in West Lafayette, Ind.
Still, would a football playoff be an easier sell? Lassiter, for one,
likes the postseason as it is, but says ticketing within a playoff
format could be patterned to some extent after the NCAA basketball
tournament. Bracket advances could be dealt with inside a week,
especially if predetermined neutral sites were employed, with social
media and printable tickets expediting sales and distribution.
“Logistically, it would be possible,” Lassiter says. “We’ll figure out a
For now, he can at least empathize with colleagues who have struggled to
sell bowl tickets. “It’s not a simple process. You have to work at it,”
he says. “We had everything in our favor this year, so we were
fortunate, but I’ve been on the other side before.”
Kentucky School District Sued Over 'Boys Only' Fieldhouse
Two female cross-country and track runners at North Oldham High School in Goshen, Ky., and their parents claim a new fieldhouse built with $1 million of taxpayers' money has a "no girls allowed" policy. The lawsuit filed against the Oldham County Board of Education, district superintendent Paul Upchurch and North Oldham principal Lisa Jarret claims the facility (completed in October 2008) "was constructed and designed strictly for the use of boys and boys' athletics." There are no facilities for girls or girls' athletics, nor is there even a restroom for females, the plaintiffs claim. |
"The Fieldhouse contains a locker room for football, shower and restroom facilities for boys only, offices for coaches of boys' sports only, a film and meeting room for use of boys and boys' sports only, a training room for use for boys' sports only, a laundry room used for boys' sports only, and even a separate locker room and shower/bathroom for use by visiting boys' teams," according to the complaint, obtained by Courthouse News Service. "The defendants have failed and refused to allow girls at North Oldham High School, including the minor plaintiffs, any use of the Fieldhouse, employing a 'No Girls Allowed' policy, except briefly during the spring, when the defendants allow the girls' track team to use the visiting boys' locker room. For the majority of the school year, girls are excluded from the Fieldhouse, and even the locker room for visiting football teams is off limits to girls, even though that visiting locker room is superior to any facility open to girls at North Oldham High School."
High School Athletic Association officials admitted the fieldhouse offered an
advantage to boys but cleared it last spring after the school opened it to the
girls’ track team, Elden May, a spokesperson for the KHSAA told The Louisville Courier-Journal. Anne
Coorssen, attorney for the school district, called the lawsuit without merit,
adding that no girls’ team at North Oldham is complaining about being
disadvantaged. She told Courier-Journal
reporter Derek Poore that new girls’ locker rooms were built, along with those
for boys, in a new school gymnasium two years ago and cited the girls’ track
team using the fieldhouse as evidence of compliance.
the girls and parents who filed this lawsuit state that female student-athletes at North
Oldham have "no facility equal or even remotely comparable" to the
fieldhouse, adding that girls on the school's cross-country team "must
change clothes in their coach's office closet or in the hallway or faculty
Parent-plaintiffs Richard F. Richards and Christine Wattley say the
school and district violate Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 and the Kentucky Civil Rights Act.
to Courthouse News Service and the complaint, the plaintiffs seek an injunction
requiring the school to "cease and desist from all further discrimination
against girls" in use of the fieldhouse and any other facility,
"build a comparable fieldhouse for girls' teams or retrofit the Fieldhouse
to convert approximately one-half of its floor space for use by girls'
athletics," and implement policies at the school and throughout the
district that ensure future compliance with Title IX.
County Schools is one of 12 school districts named in a lawsuit filed late last
year by the National Women’s Law Center for failing to provide equal
opportunities for female athletes.