Emily Attwood
Emily (emily@athleticbusiness.com) joined the Athletic Business team in 2011, a natural transition from her previous work at PFP (Personal Fitness Professional), a B2B fitness industry brand, and Inside Wisconsin Sports, a consumer sports publication. AB’s managing editor by day, Emily spends her nights typing away at what she hopes will someday turn into a novel that other people will find worth reading. A graduate of the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Emily continues to enjoy living in the city with her husband, Derek, and biking to work, except during winter, when she doesn't enjoy much of anything.
  • Tuesday, February, 17, 2015
    Hockey League’s No-Touch Policy Touches Off Debate

    A Toronto girls’ hockey league has drawn some attention this month, not because of its performance on the ice, but its policies related to player-coach interactions. 

    Following a complaint regarding a volunteer coach who congratulated a player by slapping her on the butt and squeezing her shoulders, the Toronto Leaside Girls Hockey Association’s executive vice-president sent out an email to coaches with the following message: “Putting hands on shoulders, slapping butts, tapping them on the helmet, NOTHING, this can make some of the girls uncomfortable and you won’t know which ones, so no contact, period.”

    Following criticism from parents and a flurry of online commentary, the league issued a statement clarifying the league’s policy, stating that the email was only intended to remind coaches of the league’s existing policy, not replace it:

    “The issue about physical contact is a guideline only. Please know that we naturally understand that contact is part of the game. We also acknowledge that it is normal for volunteers to touch players in certain circumstances – e.g. helping with skates and helmets; assisting a young player on and off the bench; helping an injured player off the ice. The suggestion in the news media is that we have implemented a no contact policy. Please be assured that this is not the case.”

    League president Jennifer Smith went on to explain, "At no time did the TLGHA invoke a new policy. The section of the email about physical contact with players did not draw a clear enough distinction between hard and fast rules and guidelines. These are guidelines only."

    RELATED: No-Score Youth Sports Policies Gaining Popularity

    Still, the zero-tolerance position of the email touched off what many players and coaches feel is an important discussion about the roll of physical contact between players and coaches in sports. Reactions were mixed, with some feeling a no-contact policy went to far and others that it only made sense to discourage unnecessary contact between players and coaches. 

    “Obviously we’ve been taking steps ever since we’ve known that some bad things have happened to kids back in the ‘60s and ‘70s,” Twenty-year hockey coach David Trombley told CTV Toronto. “Definitely we’re out here to protect the kids.”

    “I think it’s a real shame in a public situation on the bench that they’re not allowed to give a congratulatory tap,” said one parent. “I absolutely understand behind closed doors and in the locker room, but maybe on the bench and on the ice, it’s a different situation.”

    For Dave Cmar, president of Sun Parlour Female Hockey Association in Ontario, it’s a logistics issue. 

    “We wouldn’t have the resources to be at every arena, at every game,” he told The Windsor Star. “The difficulty would be in uniformly applying that.”

    Sports psychologist Kate Hays defended coach-player contact as an important aspect of player development, telling CBCNews, “It says, 'I'm paying attention to you, you've done a good job, I know you are really engaged, you are important to me, you are important to the team.'" 

    Perhaps more important, Hays says that it’s part of teaching children the difference between appropriate and inappropriate contact. "The idea of learning about non-sexualized, non-aggressive touch is something that indicates a positive connection among human beings.” 

     
    Should touching a player's shoulder be considered inappropriate contact for a coach?
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  • Wednesday, February, 11, 2015
    Little League Champs Stripped of National Title

    Nearly two months after allegations that the Jackie Robinson West team violated residency rules, the governing board of Little League Baseball has stripped the team of its 2014 U.S. championship title. The team drew significant attention during this past year’s Little League season as the first team comprised of all African-American participants to win the national title.

    In December, a rival team accused the Chicago-based team of using players outside its geographic area in December, allegations that were initially dismissed. But an investigation by the Little League organization revealed that the team used a map with falsified boundaries to recruit players from neighboring districts. As a result of the investigation, the team will vacate its wins from the 2014 Little League Baseball International Tournament, including its regional and national titles, the latter of which will be awarded to Mountain Ridge Little League of Las Vegas. 

    “For more than 75 years, Little League has been an organization where fair play is valued over the importance of wins and losses,” Little League International CEO Stephen D. Keener said in a statement. “This is a heartbreaking decision. What these players accomplished on the field and the memories and lessons they have learned during the Little League World Series tournament is something the kids can be proud of, but it is unfortunate that the actions of adults have led to this outcome.”

    Local officials acknowledged in January that they knew of the team’s violations but had not reported them to the governing body, sparking the league to reopen its investigation. The team’s manager has since been suspended, and the league’s administrator for the district has been removed from his position. 

    “Little League takes these matters very seriously and has spent countless hours gathering information about the many issues facing Jackie Robinson West Little League and Illinois District 4,” Keener said. “During our review, it became clear that both Jackie Robinson West officials and District Administrator, Mike Kelly signed documents to make players eligible who should not have been.”

     


  • Tuesday, February, 03, 2015
    New Projects: Kansas State's Vanier Football Complex | Westlake Athletic & Community Center

    Breaking Ground


  • Tuesday, February, 03, 2015
    Cardio Equipment Leasing Strategies for Fitness Centers

    Cardio equipment is the heart of any fitness center. It's the most popular type of equipment, unintimidating and easy to use for fitness newbies, but also a powerful workout tool for enthusiasts. Befittingly, manufacturers are constantly seeking out new ways to improve their products, from design tweaks to make equipment more user-friendly to consoles featuring integrated technology to keep up with users' expectations. Today's cardio equipment is compatible with a range of wearable technology, offers a variety of virtual-reality programming, can record a long list of workout data, and can even alert operators to specific maintenance needs.


  • Thursday, January, 29, 2015
    Tips to Keep Saunas and Steam Rooms Appealing to Users

    It’s a story all too familiar to many fitness facility operators: a new facility or renovation opens, boasting a new sauna or steam room that will be the facility’s crowning jewel and attract myriad new members. Months later, though, it’s fallen into disuse (or worse yet, a failure of the steam room enclosure renders it useless) and sits as an empty waste of space.


  • Tuesday, January, 20, 2015
    What Really Caused the Illnesses at Roby Gym?

    Two weeks after visiting basketball players and fans to Roby High School gymnasium in Texas reported sore throats, headaches and other symptoms, investigators have found the cause: a broken light.

    Administrators initially suspected a chemical irritant used on the bleachers to be the cause of visitors' symptoms, removing the bleachers last week and having them tested. Those tests came back negative for any sign of chemical over-concentration, leaving administrators to explore other possible causes. 

    RELATED: Gym's Bleachers to Be Tested in Wake of Illnesses

    During the investigation, someone noticed that there was still an odor in the gym, despite the absence of the bleachers. The cause turned out to be a broken metal halide light above the visitors side bleachers, which was emitting UV rays. The UV ray exposure led to visitors' illnesses. 

    Roby superintendent Heath Dixon says that the school plans to replace all of the gym lighting with LED. Meanwhile, all light bulbs in the gym have been replaced with bulbs outfitted with an extra casing, which won't emit rays if broken.


  • Friday, January, 16, 2015
    Former NCAA Chair Admits to Not Reading Freeh Report

    According to new court documents released this week, former NCAA executive committee chair and Oregon State president Ed Ray did not read the Freeh report before sanctioning Penn State’s football program. The report was the primary piece of evidence used by the NCAA to hand down sanctions. 

    RELATED: Did Emmert Deceive PSU Over Death Penalty Threat?

    The revelation comes from court documents filed as part of the Paterno lawsuit, Ray admitted to only reading the executive summary and press accounts. From the documents:

    Paterno family attorney Wick Sollers: You reviewed the Freeh Report at or about the time it came out, I take it.

    Ray: Actually, it was -- I think I did not go through the detailed report until after the agreement was reached. Remember, the report came out on the 12th. I went to Hawaii on, I don't know, the 14th. So, I may have looked at the executive summary when it came out, and certainly read press accounts, but I don't believe I read or was able to download and get a copy of the full report until after I got back, which would have been around the time of the press conference [announcing the Consent Decree], or sometime shortly thereafter.

    Sollers: Did not have the Freeh Report sent out to you in Hawaii?

    Ray: No. No.

    Sollers: Do you recall when you got back--

    Ray: So let me be clear about that. When I went to Hawaii, I didn't even know that we were going to be having any conversations about the Freeh Report. So I had no sense that I needed to prep for anything.
    We went on either the 14th or the 15th, at this point I can't remember. And then we had this conference call on the 17th. So no, I didn't have the Freeh Report. 
    And then I came back on, I think the 19th or 20th, traveling from there, probably on the 20th, and then the 21st we had this phone call [approving the Consent Decree]. So I didn't have a lot of time to prep for anything.
     

    "These are extraordinary circumstances," Ray said at a news conference announcing the sanctions. "The executive committee has the authority to act on behalf of the entire association in extraordinary circumstances. And we have chosen to exercise that authority.

    The NCAA has been under increasing criticism as of late for its handling of the Sandusky scandal, especially with new information coming to light as part of the lawsuit filed against the NCAA by the Paterno family. 

    Read the entire Paterno lawsuit filing here. 

    The scrutiny has also prompted a meeting of the Penn State board of trustees to discuss joining a lawsuit filed by state senators set for trial next month. The board is meeting today (January 16) to discuss and vote on a resolution to join the suit, which alleges that the NCAA had no authority to hand down its punishments.

     

     


  • Wednesday, January, 14, 2015
    E-Cigarette Blamed for Gymnasium Explosion, Fire

    Police say an electronic cigarette is to blame for an explosion at Sparks (Nev.) High School that caused minor damage to the gymnasium floor and led to a code-yellow lockdown and an evacuation of 150 students Monday. A teacher saw the fire shortly after 10 a.m. and quickly reported it to school police and administration, evacuating all students from the gym and those in nearby classrooms to the football field. 

    "From what the teacher told me there was a small explosion and then a ball of fire," principal Kevin Carroll said

    Streets surrounding the school were blocked off while an investigation of the explosion took place, and parents were also notified of the event after the incident.

    "Our number one priority is student safety,” said Carroll. “I have a solid admin team. I have faith in our school police department that we are a very safe school and we do everything we can."

    Students elsewhere on campus reported hearing announcements about a bomb threat, and classrooms were placed on lockdown for approximately 90 minutes. “I just heard that they found something in the gymnasium," said one student. “Some of the students were saying they heard a loud pop, but I didn't know until it all happened."

    After identifying the cause of the fire, investigators deemed it unintentional, the result of two students playing around with an e-cigarette. 

     


  • Wednesday, January, 07, 2015
    Translucent Panels Bring More than Daylight to Facilities

    No athletic or recreation facility built in the past 15 years has been designed without consideration for LEED or other sustainability measures. Chief among the design elements is daylighting, a function that earns points for sustainability while saving on operational costs. Glass is usually the first element that comes to mind when daylighting is mentioned — from basic windows and skylights to large expanses of glass curtainwall — but glass is not the only way to achieve such an effect. Translucent panel systems can bring natural lighting into a facility, while leaving out some of the common disadvantages associated with glass.


  • Friday, January, 02, 2015
    Study Pits Army Fitness Training Versus CrossFit

    Whether we're for or against it, most of us can agree on one thing: CrossFit workouts are tough. Really tough.


  • Monday, June, 16, 2014
    AB's Architectural Showcase a Yearlong Affair

    The Architectural Showcase in June is the one issue of Athletic Business I look forward to most each year. It's also the issue I spend most of each year working on.


  • Friday, April, 04, 2014
    Blog: Wine at the Gym? I’ll Drink to That

    Cardio equipment? Check. Towel service? Check. Group exercise schedule? Check. Liquor license? Pending.


  • Thursday, February, 27, 2014
    Blog: Let Them Eat Cake, If They So Choose

    On Tuesday, the White House announced a series of new initiatives as part of the fourth anniversary of the “Let’s Move!” program. Many of them are a great step forward in the battle against childhood obesity and inactivity, including an expansion of the school breakfast program and a five-year partnership with the National Recreation and Park Association and Boys & Girls Clubs of America will provide 5 million children with healthy snacks and physical activity opportunities after school. 


  • Monday, January, 13, 2014
    Blog: Women-Only Fitness Zones Perpetuate Stereotypes

    Here at AB, it’s the editors’ job to stay on top of what’s happening in the industries we serve. As such, last Friday I came across an article about a gym in Vancouver getting some flak for its decision to close its women-only section. 


  • Thursday, October, 10, 2013
    Blog: If You Can't Beat 'Em… Beat 'Em Up!

    I was sitting in a hotel lobby surrounded by other people when I opened up my morning news alerts and saw an article announcing the Kentucky High School Athletic Associations' decision to suspend post-game handshakes, so I had to keep my disgust to a minimum - a casual eye roll and understated sigh. Seriously? These athletes are displaying poor sportsmanship, and the solution to that is to do away with the concept? That's like dropping math from the curriculum because the students aren't getting it.


  • Friday, September, 20, 2013
    Blog: Defending "The Slowest Generation"

    Friday afternoon, when I should have been hard at work on AB's November issue, I instead found myself fuming over an article from Thursday's Wall Street Journal sent to me by our company owner. The article deemed younger athletes "The Slowest Generation," and accused my generation of being too apathetic about performance and competition.