- Thursday, August, 17, 2017
Chick-fil-A Stand Closed for All But One Falcons Game
It’s now the norm for professional stadiums to offer fans food options from franchised brands, and the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta is no different.
However, one concessions stand will be closed for all but one of the Atlanta Falcons’ eight home games the the stadium’s inaugural season in 2017. According to ESPN, Chick-fil-A will fly the MBS coop seven times — exercising its corporate policy of closing on Sundays and leaving fans only a Thursday night game between the Falcons and the New Orleans Saints on Dec. 7 to purchase the chain’s signature chicken sandwich. For the remaining games, the stand’s digital signage will promote stadium concessionaire Levy’s non-branded food and beverage items.
Headquartered in Atlanta, Chick-fil-A is the highest grossing restaurant franchise in the United States, with each store generating $4.4 million in annual revenue, on average, according to QSR Magazine, an industry trade publication.
The policy of closing one day of the week for rest and worship, mandated by Chick-fil-A founder Truett Cathy, is also in play for Atlanta United’s MLS games scheduled for Sundays at Mercedes-Benz Stadium, as well as at the Atlanta Braves’ new SunTrust Park.
A separate stand at MBS, run by former Top Chef contestant Kevin Gillespi, will offer a “Closed on Sundays” chicken sandwich, featuring a knockoff of the Chick-fil-A standard fried chicken and pickle on a buttered bun.
- Tuesday, August, 15, 2017
Kent State Fires Strength Coach Over Certification Issue
Kent State University has fired a member of its football staff after investigations found the individual lacked certification as a strength and conditioning coach required by the NCAA.
Ross Bowsher was in charge of a June 13 workout at which 19-year-old Tyler Heintz collapsed and died. The preliminary cause of death was listed as hyperthermia, a condition that develops when the body cannot properly cool itself. Almost immediately after Heintz's death, both major strength and conditioning certification bodies — the National Strength and Conditioning Association and the Collegiate Strength and Conditioning Coaches Association — informed CBS Sports that Bowsher was not a member. Combined, the organizations claim 29,000 members.
A CBS Sports investigation found that Bowsher, in his second year with the Golden Flashes after stints with Arkansas Tech and Purdue, was the only Kent State staffer lacking certification, required since 2015 under NCAA Bylaw 11.1.5.
Subsequent to those findings, the university released the following statement:
“The safety and wellbeing of our student-athletes is paramount at Kent State University, and we have continued to assess and review all policies and circumstances relative to the June 13 summer football workout that occurred prior to the death of Tyler Heintz. We continue to mourn the loss of Tyler, and the Kent State family is focused on joining with the Heintz family in honoring his memory in our thoughts and actions.
“The university has concluded its internal review of the matter, and our findings indicate that the workout was conducted in accordance with national protocols for student-athlete health and safety, and the session was supervised appropriately by qualified personnel. Present at the June 13 football workout were five certified personnel who participated in the design, implementation and supervision of the 20 student-athletes.
“During the course of the review, it was discovered that football strength and conditioning coach Ross Bowsher provided false information about his certification, which is required by the university and the NCAA. Mr. Bowsher has been dismissed from the university, and we are self-reporting this decision to the NCAA.”
The case illustrates the importance of a thorough vetting process for coaches. “Today, the way liability is, if you’re not certified by an accredited organization you’re walking on thin ice,” CSCCA executive director Chuck Stiggins told CBS Sports. “Lawsuits could be $20 million to $30 million dollars. I can’t imagine hiring someone without the appropriate credentials.”
Heintz is the 35th college football player across all divisions to die since 2000, with factors relating to overexertion the leading cause of death.
“Football has a problem,” NSCA coaching education manager Scott Caulfield told CBS Sports. “Typically they hire the biggest dude that lifted weights and make him the strength coach. A lot of times they don't care if he is certified or not.”
- Monday, August, 14, 2017
Injury Prompts Call for MLB to Examine Safety of Bases
In all kinds of climatic conditions, a baseball diamond is pampered like few other sports surfaces. The infield dirt gets watered and raked even in good weather, and covered during extended periods of rain. But one surface area — the desired destination of every offensive player on the field — doesn’t get enough attention, according sports agent Scott Boras.
Boras, considered the world’s most powerful sports agent by Forbes magazine, called on Major League Baseball to consider bases a hazard when wet after one of his clients, Washington Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper, slipped on first base during the first inning of a game Saturday night and suffered a deep bone bruise.
“We go to great lengths with the soil to make sure it’s not wet and there are drying agents on the ground,” Boras said, as reported by ESPN. “I don’t know what technology we apply or the studies that have been done on the composition of having a wet base. That’s certainly something we need to look into. This injury was directly related to inclement weather and a player putting his cleat on the bag and it slipping across because the surface was slick.
“In the NBA, when a player hits the floor and there's perspiration on the floor, they clean it up immediately so the surface isn't slick. In baseball, we have no one cleaning the bags between innings during inclement weather. Is there observation as the game goes where they would stop and make sure the bag is dry? We don’t do that. We don't take measures like that for player safety that could easily be accomplished by the grounds crew and the umpires’ observations."
MLB Rule 1.06 states that bases are “marked by white canvas or rubber-covered,” and are “securely attached to the ground.” A change in composition of bases used by Major League Baseball would come from the league’s joint Safety and Health Advisory Committee. The committee, which includes representatives from Major League Baseball and the Players Association, addresses health and safety issues as they arise and monitors the safety of working conditions for players, according to ESPN’s report.
“We’re placing players in peril when they have no notice or familiarity with the surface they’re playing on,” Boras said. “There may be a better solution where you have a base that has a less slick surface in response to precipitation.”
- Monday, July, 31, 2017
Pro Stadiums Tapping Taxpayers for Renovations
Renovation of an existing stadium is the frugal alternative to building one from scratch, but it does come at a price — and, as MarketWatch reports, taxpayers often help pick up the tab.
Within the past eight years, 17 professional sports stadiums have undergone renovation, and 15 of those projects used public money.
For example, Tampa taxpayers are footing 25 percent of the $100 million used to update Raymond James Stadium, home of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, but the public paid $193 million to build the stadium in 1998. Moreover, the $100 million in improvements are roughly 10 percent of what it cost to build the Minnesota Vikings' U.S. Bank Stadium, which opened last year.
One exception to the facelift-through-public-financing rule is the Miami Dolphins' Hard Rock Stadium, a 30-year-old facility recently infused with $500 million of team owner Stephen Ross's own money. To put that figure into perspective, $500 million exceeds the cost of nearly every stadium built before 2008 but is half the average cost of every stadium built since 2009.
- Tuesday, July, 25, 2017
Illinois Drafting Ban on Athletes with Assault Records
The University of Illinois athletic department is drafting a policy that would prohibit student-athletes with a history of sexual assault or domestic violence from competing for the Illini.
- Tuesday, July, 18, 2017
How Digital Signage is Revolutionizing Venue Branding
Hailed as "the South's preeminent lifestyle destination," The Battery Atlanta houses hundreds of high-end residences, dozens of fashion retailers and conceptual eateries, one luxury hotel and a theater bearing an iconic name. It's blocks of brand-driven streetscape long on curb appeal.
- Thursday, July, 13, 2017
Rec Center Bomb Threat Tests UCLA Response Plan
UCLA campus police received a phoned bomb threat targeting the university's Sunset Canyon Recreation Center late Wednesday, activating an emergency response that greeted individuals in nearby buildings with messaging that ranged from "stay indoors" to "evacuate."
The first emergency alert was issued shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday, according to a report at latimes.com, followed by a second notice 30 minutes later that "the situation is still active." At 12:05 a.m. Thursday, the Twitter account @UCLA Housing sent the message "The Hill is in emergency. Please evacuate to Drake Stadium. Please retweet and share. More information will be provided as it comes in." According a screen capture on latimes.com, that message was retweeted at least 535 times. Five minutes later, @UCLA BruinAlert tweeted "Bomb threat at Sunset Recreation. Residents are requested to remain indoors unless otherwise instructed. Avoid the area until further notice."
Four bomb-sniffing dogs had searched the rec center, which police determined to be clear of explosives shortly before midnight. At 12:20, a BruinAlert informed individuals that they could return to their residence halls, which were occupied by a mix of students taking summer courses and children visiting the Westwood campus for sports camps. Drake Stadium, home to UCLA's soccer programs, is depicted being cleared in an individual's tweet posted at 1:56 a.m. Other evacuees were directed to a nearby tennis court, as alarms and flashing lights were triggered within some residence halls. In all, more than a dozen halls were affected.
Nineteen-year-old Lemoine Dillon, who was in Rieber Vista residence hall when alarms sounded, was among hundreds directed to the stadium. “It was really hectic because no one really knew what to do or where we were going,” Dillon told latimes.com.
The bomb threat came hours after the conclusion of the first orientation program for new UCLA students.
- Tuesday, July, 11, 2017
Marlins Seek Seizure of Ticket-Holder's Property
As the baseball world turns its attention to Miami for tonight's MLB All-Star Game, the host Marlins organization is looking to seize property of one if its season-ticket holders.
According to court documents obtained by the Miami New Times, the Marlins have sued Kenneth Sack to take a $725,000 property he owns in Oakland Park. It marks the ninth time since 2003 that the Marlins have pursued the unusual legal action (by professional sports standards) of suing their own fans — for reneging on long-term season ticket and suite lease agreements initiated in 2012, the team's first season in its new Little Havana Stadium. Since then, fans, including Sack, have felt victimized by a perceived Marlins bait-and-switch.
In exchange for his four-year commitment to season tickets, Sack was promised a premium parking space, a private entrance and food buffets before and after games. However, fans who made such commitments claim that as soon as the team's fortunes on field went south, the perks either never materialized or fell short of expectations.
ESPN.com notes that the Marlins won a judgment against Sack in January, with the court ruling that Sack owed the team the full $97,200 he owed as part of the ticket agreement. His attorney appealed, saying a heart attack and lengthy hospital stay had caused him to miss key hearings and filings. That civil case remains open.
In March, the Marlins began foreclosure proceedings for Sack's Oakland Park commercial building, arguing that they can seize the property to fulfill the $97,200 he owes them.
"I don't understand why Major League Baseball continues to allow Jeffrey Loria to behave like this," Daniel Rose, an attorney representing another former season-ticket holder being sued by the Marlins, told the New Times. "At the end of the day, what is the motive to go after fans like this? It just shows their greed and a complete lack of respect for their fan base."
- Monday, July, 10, 2017
Baylor Settles Assault-Based Title IX Suit; More to Come
Baylor University late Thursday settled a Title IX lawsuit alleging that the school responded inadequately to the plaintiff's claims she was drugged, abducted and raped after attending an off-campus party at "the rugby house" in February 2015.
According to the Waco Tribune-Herald, the plaintiff's mother called Baylor's Title IX office the next day and was told five other women had been raped at the same house. The plaintiff, who filed the suit as "Jane Doe," said she met with then-Title IX Coordinator Patty Crawford and then-Title IX investigator Ian McRary, who emailed a no-contact directive to the woman and information regarding an unrelated Title IX case. The plaintiff alleged McRary also sent her photos so she could identify her alleged assailant, which she did, then told her at least three women had reported “similar experiences at the rugby house,” the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit further states that communication between the woman and the Title IX office ended without a hearing about five weeks after their initial contact, and a grade appeal with a vice provost was then unsuccessful, forcing her to leave Baylor and return to her home state. No police report was filed due to the woman's embarrassment, according to the lawsuit.
Crawford, who was originally named in the lawsuit, resigned in October claiming she lacked the "authority, resources or independence" to do her job — a claim the university disputed. That same month, Baylor attempted to have the Title IX lawsuit dismissed on the grounds the plaintiff had “not alleged that Baylor had substantial control over either the alleged offender or the context in which the assault occurred.”
In May of 2016, a law firm’s investigation found “fundamental failure” in Baylor’s Title IX implementation, and the school has since replaced its president, athletic director, head football coach and coaching staff, and has implemented other changes, the Tribune-Herald reported.
“Baylor University is pleased that the parties were able to resolve this dispute in an amicable fashion,” according to a university statement. “We are unable to comment further regarding this particular claim out of respect for the student’s privacy.”
Once the agreement is finalized, Baylor will face five additional Title IX lawsuits, according to the Tribune-Herald, which adds that Baylor has reached settlements with at least three alleged victims of sexual assault who did not file lawsuits.
- Thursday, July, 06, 2017
Titans' Nissan Stadium Damaged by Fireworks
Nissan Stadium, home of the NFL’s Tennessee Titans, sustained damage Tuesday when a fireworks shell launched as part of Nashville’s Fourth of July celebration detonated late upon landing in a designated fallout zone. The detonation blew out concrete and some seats on the west side of the stadium’s upper deck.
Though rare, the malfunction illustrated the destructive power of shells designed for viewer entertainment. No one was injured by the misfire, but Pyro Shows, the company that has produced the Music City’s Fourth of July display for three decades, is financially responsible for the stadium damage.
“It took place toward the end of the show,” said Lansden Hill, owner of Pyro Shows, as reported by titaninsider.com. “The shells are supposed to go off in the air, but this one came back down and didn’t go off until it landed in the upper deck.
“It was just one of those things that will occasionally happen. That’s why the fire code requires that we keep the crowd a certain area away from it. We know out of every 1,000 shells not all of them are going to work right.”
The damage is not expected to impact upcoming stadium events, which include a pair of Gold Cup soccer matches — one this Saturday and another July 29. The Titans play their first preseason game Aug. 19.
While a stadium event wasn’t the cause of this particular mishap, there are examples of what can go wrong when sports and fireworks intersect, including personal injury to spectators and trained pyrotechnicians alike. Read AB’s coverage here.
- Wednesday, November, 30, 2016
AB Show 2016: The Magic of Orlando
There’s something about Orlando, Fla., that stirs the nostalgia in this AB Show-goer. It’s where the conference and expo (as it used to be known) was held my first eight years at Athletic Business, and it has been there another four times since. In all, Orlando has served as the annual home away from home for AB roughly half the time in our show’s 35-year history.
- Monday, November, 10, 2014
Get to Know Your Peers When Attending ABC
This is a story about a conversation Lou Holtz and I never had.
- Tuesday, August, 12, 2014
Robin Williams Drew Attention to Inaugural Augie’s BASH
Robin Williams possessed the kind of frenetic magnetism that dared you to look away. For me, it wasn’t possible. The actor/comedian’s larger-than-life persona was tailor-made for a movie screen.
- Thursday, January, 17, 2013
Blog: The Tangled Webs of Lance Armstrong, Manti Te'o
The twisted tales of Lance Armstrong and Manti Te'o are now intertwined. Heroes to many, these athletes have lived lies before our eyes, and now those lies are unraveling within the same week.
- Monday, December, 03, 2012
Blog: The Life and Death of Rick Majerus
The first time I saw Rick Majerus in person, he was sitting in seldom-used end-court bleachers that had been wheeled into position for a Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association Class C basketball sectional at my high school alma mater's field house. I was there to cover a game for my hometown newspaper, The West Bend News. Majerus, an assistant coach at Marquette at the time (this was the mid-'80s), was there to scout Kohler, Wis., phenom Joe Wolf, who would eventually attend North Carolina.
- Friday, August, 17, 2012
Blog: Cheer These Pro Athletes for Giving Back
Assuming your membership in the Latrell "I have a family to feed" Sprewell Fan Club has expired, may we suggest a couple of options.
- Sunday, January, 17, 2010
Blog: Still Believing, 34 Years (and Counting) Later
Editor's Note: AB Senior Editor Paul Steinbach authored this piece in January 2010, but with February 22nd marking the 34th anniversary of the Miracle on Ice and the U.S. men's hockey team facing off against Canada on Friday, the message still rings true.
For nearly 30 years now, the 1980 U.S. Olympic hockey team has been an off-and-on obsession of mine.
- Thursday, December, 10, 2009
A Choice to Make
There's precedent for a Catholic institution sticking with a coach despite his pro-choice stance on abortion. Rick Majerus is in his third season heading the St. Louis University men's basketball program after admitting during a TV interview at a January 2008 Hillary Clinton campaign rally that he is "pro-choice, personally." But will a Catholic institution hire a pro-choice coach? Somehow, during speculation that University of Cincinnati head football coach Brian Kelly is next in line to bear the Notre Dame football cross, the rumor spread that Kelly, an Irish Catholic who decades ago campaigned for Democratic presidential candidate Gary Hart, is pro-choice. But no one seems to know for sure. "I searched online media archives all day today trying to find one reputable media reference to Kelly's stance on abortion," read a Tuesday post by Brooks at sportsbybrooks.com. "I found none."
- Wednesday, November, 11, 2009
Hit 'Em Straight
When the AB editors dedicated our July issue to best environmental practices in the athletics, fitness and recreation industries, we managed to overlook one egregious hazard to our planet's health: golf balls.