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.
  • 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, February, 05, 2014
    High School Athletic Trainers Key in Concussion Management

    Spring Hill (Kan.) High School senior Nathan Stiles had just scored a 65-yard touchdown when he began grasping his helmet and screaming that his head hurt. He collapsed near his team’s sideline and died just days before his 18th birthday. He died of a brain hemorrhage, which doctors determined was caused by a concussion one month earlier. His autopsy revealed Stiles had chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, a degenerative brain disease commonly associated with retired football players and boxers.


  • Wednesday, January, 22, 2014
    Club Sports Pushing Athletes Away From High School

    Club sports were once revered nationwide by high schools for helping enhance the young athlete and preparing him or her for the more competitive high school environment. But various factors have played a role in transforming club sports from high school athletics supporter to slayer, forcing one high school athletic director to admit, "I think we might see a time when high school sports don't exist and club sports completely replace it."


  • 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?


  • Tuesday, January, 14, 2014
    Tips for Maintaining and Replacing Weight Room Flooring

    When the University of Oregon formally unveiled its new $68 million football performance center, the Hatfield-Dowlin Complex, last summer, it redefined athletic luxury on the collegiate level. Designed by Portland-based ZGF Architects LLP, amenities include a players lounge with Italian leather furniture, rugs hand-woven in Nepal and customized gaming systems; a space-age locker room that requires a biometric thumbprint to enter; and a 25,000-square-foot weight room fortified with Brazilian Ipe wood floors. Environmentally friendly, this type of flooring is mold-, fire-, weather- and pest-resistant, and its strength is comparable to that of steel.


  • Thursday, January, 02, 2014
    Unforgettable Experiences at Athletic Business Conference & Expo

    Circle of trust time AB readers: Between us, I really had no idea what to expect at the 2013 Athletic Business Conference & Expo, held last November in San Diego. Which is odd for me to admit, as I consider myself somewhat of a trade show warrior.


  • Friday, December, 20, 2013
    Fundraising Ideas for High School Athletic Directors

    The pressure to generate more revenue on the high school level has continued to increase, forcing many athletic directors to roll up their sleeves and get more involved in the fundraising process. "Everything you do, you're asking, 'How can I save money?' or 'How can I increase revenue?' " says Karl Heimbach, athletic director at Magruder High School in Rockville, Md., for the past 14 years. "Expenses are continuing to rise and the level of income you bring in is either going down or staying constant. Fundraising has become one of my top priorities."


  • Tuesday, December, 17, 2013
    No Pain, No Gain... And Other Life Lessons Learned in the Gym

    The success of a trade show is typically measured by the amount of traffic in the aisles during exhibit hours. But in the world of fitness, those rules don't apply. In fact, the ideal fitness exhibition hall has very little aisle traffic, as fitness equipment manufacturers want attendees on their machines rather than simply observing them. My formal introduction to this culture occurred recently when I attended my first fitness industry trade show. I was greeted by a wave of fitness equipment, nutritional supplements and Zumba.


  • 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, July, 15, 2014
    Tuesday Takedown: Talking Sports Safety at NCS4

    I had the pleasure to travel down beautifully boring I-65 to Indianapolis last week for the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security's annual conference, where the superheroes of the sports security world gathered to address the constantly evolving challenge of protecting its venues, athletes and spectators from new and old threats alike. Outside of the Athletic Business Conference & Expo, there is no other conference I look forward to attending more, and this year's show did not disappoint. 


  • Friday, July, 11, 2014
    Angry Minority Destroying Social Media

    Popular AB contributor Chris Yandle, assistant AD for communications at the University of Miami, wrote a great post for our website in May about our collective love/hate relationship with social media.


  • Tuesday, July, 08, 2014
    Tuesday Takedown: Collegiate Safety Best Practices

    NCS4 kicked off its annual conference and expo Monday with the formal introduction of its Intercollegiate Athletics Safety and Security Best Practices Guide. The 100-plus page "living" document is the result of collegiate security and safety leaders brainstorming ideas at NCS4's first National Intercollegiate Athletics Safety and Security Summit last January at the University of Southern Mississippi, according to symposium moderator Paul Denton, chief of police at Ohio State University.


  • Tuesday, June, 24, 2014
    Tuesday Takedown: Security Fails Marring Best World Cup

    Security at this year's FIFA World Cup has been intensely scrutinized, starting months in advance as host country Brazil raced to get its stadiums ready for the 32-team tournament, a topic addressed by AB's Michael Gaio last month. Next came the safety of athletes, coaches and spectators.


  • Tuesday, June, 17, 2014
    Tuesday Takedown: Little Sense in Volunteer-Coach Ban

    Being Father's Day last Sunday, I felt compelled to weigh in on a story that came across our newswire last week where a country board in South Carolina is considering banning volunteer parents from coaching to avoid the perceived "favoritism" that is apparently associated with parents coaching their children. Yes, you read correctly. At a time when we are dealing with a coaching crisis of sorts across the country and should be encouraging parents to be more involved in their child's life, there is a group out there that wants to ban those parents from not only helping their kids, but other kids on that sports team, as well.  

    First, I played baseball for my father for many years and let me assure you, there was zero favoritism. My father was harder on me than any other player and demanded more from me than any player. More often than not, you'll find this is the norm for parents coaching their children. Of course, every parent is different. Mine was the Bobby Knight of Little League. He was a great but sometimes volatile coach that definitely made his share of enemies at the park district. One notable memory was when he had me pitch and hit leadoff when I was 11… and had a broken arm. He was swiftly banned from playing me until the cast came off and I was cleared by a doctor to return to action. My father took great pride in winning, and worked hard with all of his players to make them better. And they loved him for it. 

    So what about on the high school level where many parents volunteer their time assisting the head coach? Let's make sure we are identifying a key word in that sentence: volunteer. These parents are not paid; they are taking time out of their likely busy schedules to help the team at no cost. So how much power exactly do these volunteer parents have? Last I checked, it is your paid head coach that is making those decisions. If these coaches are filling head coaching voids, shouldn't the school and/or district be happy they have somebody that's at least willing to step up to the plate when apparently no one else would?

    But say we remove those parents and replace them with other volunteer coaches that do not have kids playing on those teams; ones that will show no favoritism. How well do you actually know these coaches? They used to play baseball in high school, that's great. But what else? How are they going to teach the boys and girls the life lessons that come with playing sports? Volunteer coaches not only demonstrate expertise but serve as role models, as well. A news report from earlier this year on South Florida volunteer youth coaches, for example, uncovered that many of these volunteer coaches were convicted felons.

    If there is "favoritism" happening with volunteer parents, the solution is far simpler and much less extreme than simply banning all volunteer parents. How about actually talking with the parties involved about the complaints rather than making a rash decision based on what is likely a very vocal minority. Banning volunteer coaches? This makes as much sense as playing a child with a broken arm in a meaningless baseball game.

     


  • Tuesday, June, 10, 2014
    Tuesday Takedown: Witnessing a Health Club's Rebirth

    It is safe to say that necessity is the mother of reinvention these days in the health club industry. The rise of in-home fitness options and low-priced health clubs are certainly factors in fitness chains reinventing themselves and how they attract/retain members, but for the Midtown Athletic Club, neither played a role in its $1 million renovation this year. Rather, it was an industry trend driving its new approach and layout.


  • Tuesday, June, 03, 2014
    Absence of Accountability in Recent High School Attacks

    Toward the beginning of 2013, Lockport (N.Y.) High School athletic director Patrick Burke was the recipient of the 2013 Empire State Supervisors and Administrators Association's Administrator of the Year Award. He has been praised by his peers for his work ethic and leadership, and for being a role model at the school he loves and within the community he serves. Toward the end of 2013, Burke found himself the recipient of something entirely different: a beating by two intoxicated students he attempted to confront for unruly behavior at a basketball scrimmage.


  • Tuesday, May, 20, 2014
    Tuesday Takedown: Compression Socks Put to the Test

    I have to admit, I've heard the buzz on knee-high compression socks boosting running performance and improving recovery for quite some time, and have even done a little research on the subject to determine if I should be the next convert that says goodbye to ankle-high socks and hello to awkward tan lines. "Increase oxygen delivery." "Decrease lactic acid." "Prevent cramps." "Minimize muscle fatigue." In theory, that sounds great. But then you get to the part where researcher after researcher explain that little to no evidence exists supporting the claim that these garments actually do improve performance during exercise. But then something pretty spectacular happened last month. Meb Keflezighi became the first American to win the Boston Marathon in 31 years — and he did it wearing knee-high compression socks. 


  • Monday, May, 05, 2014
    Tuesday Takedown: The Sad Truth About False Accusations

    In the court of public opinion, there is no innocent until proven guilty. There is only guilty, even when proven innocent.