Dennis Van Milligen
Dennis Van Milligen has worked in business media for 15 years, the majority of that time spent as the editor in chief of a chemical engineering magazine. Prior to joining Athletic Business in July 2013, Dennis worked as a content marketing specialist for leading b2b companies in the industrial space. A native of Wheaton, Ill., Dennis is a former All-State long distance runner who presently uses whatever speed he has left to leg out doubles in recreational softball leagues. Dennis is a graduate of Lewis University in Romeoville, Ill., and resides in the Chicago suburbs with his wife and two young daughters who are repeatedly told how much Dennis is going to hate every one of their boyfriends.
  • Monday, October, 20, 2014
    Improving Pool Safety with Model Aquatic Health Code

    The movie "Jaws" made you afraid to go into the water, but it was the inclusion of the "Jaws" theme music in another "scary" water scene five years later that likely resonated more with moviegoers. But instead of a shark, the object of fear was a Baby Ruth candy bar. Harold Ramis' classic comedy "Caddyshack" — virtually impossible not to quote while golfing nearly 35 years after its release — makes light of the pool safety nightmare known as a Code Brown, but that subject is certainly no laughing matter to pool operators tasked with keeping their aquatic facilities safe and clean.


  • Thursday, October, 09, 2014
    Fan Violence Reaching New Lows

    Levi's Stadium is the most technologically advanced stadium in the U.S., so why have people only been talking about what's happened in its bathrooms? The reason is a sickening video that shows a fan apparently telling another fan that a stall is open for him to use. The fan responds with three fast punches that knock that fan unconscious, rendering him partially paralyzed. And earlier in the week at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, three men brutally beat a man in the parking lot after the Angels lost to the Kansas City Royals in the ALDS. As of this writing, there was no reason given for the attack. It may seem that fan violence in California receives the most national media attention (why are you so angry California sports fans?), but the reality is that fan violence is everywhere. 

    My eight-year-old daughter has asked me multiple times when I'm finally going to take her to her first Chicago Bears game. I tell her when the Bears have a defense, but the truth is that I don't want to expose her or her six-year-old sister to that environment. The cursing and obnoxious behavior, sadly they have seen that with Daddy when he watches the aforementioned Bears defense. But the fan violence, that is the real reason that keeps my family away from professional sporting events these days. 

    Fan violence isn't increasing and it's not a new phenomenon at sporting events; we just have the technology (camera phones) to document each and every incident. NFL attendance will always remain strong. After all, it's still the most popular sport in this country and most teams only have eight home game opportunities, so the people will always be there, along with the temptation to apparently punch those people. So what can we do to turn left hooks into fist bumps?

    In the October issue of Athletic Business, crowd-control expert Dr. Tamara Madensen examines crowd dynamics, and why event and security managers tasked with protecting its spectators must thoroughly understand these types of situations if they are truly committed to curbing fan violence. There are a variety of other tactics venues can employ, as AB senior editor Paul Steinbach learned in his great One on One with Fans Against Violence founder Kathy Samoun. FAV is a fan-based organization committed to "taking back the stands." Check out FAV's website, well worth the time.  

    I've been fortunate to have become more and more immersed in sports security through my close work with the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4), and I can assure all families and fans that ensuring a safe environment for all spectators is a topic constantly being addressed by those responsible for securing those events and venues. Because this is the fight that's not only worth fighting, but a fight we must win.  

     


  • Wednesday, October, 01, 2014
    First-Time Speakers Discuss ABC Presentations

    The Athletic Business Conference & Expo returns to the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Fla., Nov. 13-15. While hundreds of attendees and exhibitors will reunite for North America's largest fall athletics, fitness and recreation show, there will be plenty of new faces this year, as well. Specifically, attendees will have a variety of new speakers to choose from within the 10 seminar tracks offered at ABC. AB editor in chief Dennis Van Milligen recently touched base with some of those speakers to discuss their presentations and what attendees can expect, as well as their own expectations for this year's show.


  • Wednesday, September, 17, 2014
    Integrating Entrance-Screening Technology in High Schools

    Last February, New Hanover (N.C.) High School escaped a second-round upset bid by Knightdale in the boys' basketball playoffs courtesy of a last-second shot that broke a 53-53 tie, but that wasn't the only drama associated with this hotly contested game. Spectators entering the game had to go through a metal detector, a move that was necessitated by a 15-year-old student bringing a .22 caliber handgun to New Hanover's first-round game against Ashley High School. The walkthrough metal detector was set up shortly before the game, replacing police offers using handheld detectors. As New Hanover athletic director Keith Moore told StarNews of Wilmington, "I'd rather be safe than sorry."


  • Tuesday, September, 16, 2014
    The Death of the Multisport Athlete

    Friday night lights are back for high schools across the country, and as you read this, many of the nation's top athletes are hard at work on the gridiron preparing for this week's upcoming game. I remember my first experience around a star athlete. I was 11 years old and my oldest brother was attending Wheaton North High School, which at that time was home to Kent Graham, the best high school athlete in the state of Illinois. Kent was a 6-foot-5-inch physical freak and the number-one-ranked quarterback in the nation. He also played safety. He earned three all-conference distinctions in basketball and regularly hit .400 for the baseball team. My dad fondly recalls Kent hitting a home run off my brother in Little League that cleared the lights and still hasn't landed.


  • Monday, August, 25, 2014
    Multimedia Marketing Transforms High School Athletics

    To say the business of high school sports marketing has evolved during Jack Roberts' tenure would be an understatement. Roberts, executive director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, just completed his 28th year in that position. He fondly remembers when he started, a time before fax machines and a time when lengthy face-to-face meetings were all part of doing business.


  • Friday, August, 22, 2014
    Should Athletes Lose Scholarships Over Social Media Miscues?

    One of the debates that has intrigued me recently involves the increasing amount of coaches that are withdrawing scholarship offers due to a high school recruit exhibiting unacceptable or inappropriate behavior on social media. According to this story we published last week, high school coaches in Georgia are applauding University of Georgia head football coach Mark Richt for dropping a recruit that misbehaved on Twitter.


  • Wednesday, August, 06, 2014
    Protecting Athletes From Heat-Related Illnesses

    No one should forget that deadly week in the summer of 2011 when two high school football players and one high school football coach died from heat-related causes. That following summer, in 2012, athletic administrators were feeling a different kind of heat: parents of the two football players who died in 2011, Isaiah Laurencin in Florida and Don'terio J. Searcy in Georgia, sued their respective county boards, asserting that the coaches pushed the boys too hard. Both schools, Miramar (Fla.) High School and Fitzgerald (Ga.) High School, boast prominent football programs. And it's not just the schools and county boards drawing the legislative ire of angry parents.


  • Friday, July, 25, 2014
    Planning, Training Key to Protecting Aquatic Venues

    Editor's note: This story originally appeared in Sports Venue Safety, a new supplement to Athletic Business. View the entire Sports Venue Safety digital issue here.

    Sean Sepela has spent most of his life around water — as a swimmer, certified lifeguard, swim coach, and currently as the aquatics operations manager at George Mason University. As Sepela has immersed himself deeper into the aquatics world, he has recognized the evolving challenges aquatic facilities are facing today compared to years past. "There are a lot more concerns today compared to when I first started," he says. "Those 'what-if' situations we simply thought about years ago must be evaluated, assessed and trained for to ensure the safety of our swimmers and the facility itself."


  • Monday, July, 21, 2014
    Shaping the Future of Athletics Safety and Security

    Editor's note: Look for more Sports Venue Safety articles as we publish a new one online each day this week. Or, view the entire digital issue here.

    My first exposures to the issues of safety and security at a sporting event came when I was eight years old. It was at Old Comiskey, back when the Chicago White Sox were "winning ugly" in the American League West. I remember going to at least half a dozen games that year with my father as the White Sox fought for an AL West championship, but that wasn't the only fighting I witnessed. The fights in the stands became as much of a spectacle as the game itself. It got to a point that we never wondered if a fight would break it, but rather when. Though I attended games with my father, a U.S. Navy SEAL and Golden Gloves boxing champion, I never had a complete sense of safety. Still, I was undeterred. I loved going to Old Comiskey and watching the White Sox despite the extracurricular activities.


  • Tuesday, March, 25, 2014
    Tuesday Takedown: Judgmental Gym Sends Wrong Message

    It has been quite a week for the "Judgment Free Zone" national gym chain known as Planet Fitness, which made national headlines for being the exact opposite. Both Tarainia McDaniel and Tiffany Austin managed to wander outside that aforementioned judgment free zone recently, being told by their respective Planet Fitness gyms how they should dress.


  • Tuesday, March, 18, 2014
    Tuesday Takedown: Lawsuits Over Life Lessons

    There is a disturbing trend that is showing no signs of slowing down: The rise of lawsuits in youth sports. Rather than focus on the important life lessons their children are learning, parents are focusing on who's to blame. Their targets are numerous: It's the referee or official not foreseeing potential player injury risks on the field; the coach that is not playing their child or is making poor decisions that are hurting the team; the league for not providing the type of venue and services expected… The list goes on and on. 


  • Thursday, February, 13, 2014
    A Look Inside Prominent Collegiate Sustainability Efforts

    In the December 2013 issue of AB, senior editor Paul Steinbach examined the growing interest in stadium and arena sustainability, citing a groundbreaking new study by the Natural Resources Defense Council in collaboration with the Green Sports Alliance and the Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education. The report, “Collegiate Game Changers,” represents the first time that sustainability efforts currently under way at collegiate sports departments have been documented. According to the report, more than 200 college sports programs (including both intercollegiate athletics and campus recreation programs) are prioritizing a greener approach, prompting Alice Henly, coordinator of NRDC’s collegiate sports work and author of the report, to declare in an NRDC press release: “College athletics and recreation programs are leading the sustainability charge.” 


  • Wednesday, January, 22, 2014
    Blog: Prioritizing The Student-Athlete a Must for ADs

    Since I have been a member of the AB team, I have had the fortunate opportunity to chronicle the challenges high school athletic administrators are facing in today's high-pressure, win-at-all-costs environment. We hear about all the steps that are being taken to protect the student-athlete from a physical standpoint, but what about from an emotional and psychological standpoint?


  • Monday, October, 21, 2013
    Diving Into the World Aquatics Health Conference

    Debbie couldn't believe she was in the same position again. Four years ago, her daughter missed making the U.S. Olympic swim team. It had been agonizing then as her daughter, who was favored to make the team, struggled through her swim. Even her children, including her 11-year-old son, were in shock. After the race, it was discovered Debbie's daughter had swam through herniated discs and stress fractures in her back.


  • Friday, October, 11, 2013
    Blog: A Budding Star Resurfaces

    Villains in the world of track and field are rare. Turning fans and/or competitors against you typically requires doing one thing: cheating. But for young Zola Budd at the 1984 Summer Olympics in Los Angeles, there was no cheating. There was no boisterous verbal sparring with her media-created rival, American Mary Decker. All it took was a racing error on Decker's part to turn Budd into one of the most despised athletes in America - at the ripe old age of 18.