Paul Steinbach
Paul Steinbach (paul@athleticbusiness.com) joined the Athletic Business staff in November 1999, and now holds the title of senior editor. His work covering college athletics and sports facility operation has garnered several regional and national journalism honors, including a Jesse H. Neal National Business Journalism Award. He is a 1989 graduate of the University of Wisconsin and currently resides with his children Jack and Libby in his hometown of West Bend, Wis. In his spare time, he enjoys mowing patterns into his backyard ballpark — the naming rights to which are still available.
  • Tuesday, September, 20, 2016
    One on One with Don Yaeger

    This article appeared in the September issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Tuesday, September, 13, 2016
    Climbing Industry Reacts to Sport’s Olympic Arrival

    This article appeared in the October issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Tuesday, September, 13, 2016
    Billy Langenstein Discusses U.S. Bank Stadium Launch

    This article appeared in the October issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Tuesday, September, 13, 2016
    Six Things to Look for in a Traditional Scoreboard

    This article appeared in the September issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.

    It was there for one of the most heart-stopping moments in sports history: "You got 10 seconds. The countdown going on right now. Morrow, up to Silk. Five seconds left in the game. Do you believe in miracles? Yes!"

    And it's still there.

    For the center-hung scoreboard above the ice at the Olympic Center (now Herb Brooks Arena) in Lake Placid, N.Y., time has seemingly stood still since the U.S. Olympic hockey team defeated the Soviets on its way to the gold medal in 1980. Time hasn't literally stood still — the bright-green bar digits of the clock still work — but the board itself hasn't budged.

    But that's about to change.

    "We're just now in discussions about what we should do or could do to replace the board," says Tom Coughlin, sales manager at Daktronics, the company that installed the Olympic Center scoreboard in 1978. "We've got some of our sports marketing and creative designers working on a concept where we might replace it with new technology, but repurpose it elsewhere to make sure that we mark that special moment in sports history. I said right off the bat that we'd sure take it for our museum, and they said, 'No way. It's not leaving here.' "

    Sentimentality aside, as video technology continues to grab attention in the sports venue marketplace, can one assume the clock is ticking on traditional, fixed-digit scoreboards? Not so fast. "We still have just a huge amount of incandescent light bulb scoreboards still in the field, still working," Coughlin says. "And with the changes in technology and even how our society is viewing incandescent light sources, those need to be upgraded and moved to modern technology for a number of reasons. But they're still operating, and we service them yet today with the parts that we have available."

    Times have changed, and LED lights now form the numbers on scoreboards built today. But the concept of a board that keeps track of score and time with fixed digits isn't going anywhere soon — particularly at the high school level, where one campus can be home to several traditional scoreboards. They still constitute the lion's share of business for many companies that offer them in addition to programmable video and messaging products — from 60 to 85 percent, depending on who you ask. A few manufacturers offer nothing but traditional boards.

    So what should end users consider when seeking the best product to meet their scoring needs?

    APPEARANCE
    Scoreboard cabinets can be customized to match school colors, but another way to dress up a traditional board is with graphic panels, whether they depict the school mascot, more-generic imagery such as an American flag, or the logos of sponsors responsible for financing the board's purchase in the first place. These can either be mounted as straight signage on the board or on trusses, or backlit for added visual impact.

    The digits themselves have evolved, from inefficient and maintenance-intensive incandescent bulbs to LEDs that, in some cases, change color depending on what the scoreboard is communicating. The clock's digits may appear green when the ball is in play, and then red when play is stopped, for example, and team scores may change color to indicate lead changes. Meanwhile, an emerging option that's proving popular doesn't involve color at all — with white LEDs providing a sharp appearance compatible with any school color.
     

    FUNCTIONALITY
    Specific scoreboards are now available for just about every sport imaginable, including those not historically served by electronic boards (such as tennis) and those whose popularity is only now becoming widespread (think lacrosse).

    That said, today's scoreboards are often designed to pull double or triple duty. "A multisport scoreboard comes into play perhaps when it is an athletic director who's making the decision and not a specific sports coach, and he or she realizes, 'I'll get a new scoreboard for my football field, but I also know that it's shared with soccer,' " says Mike Daniel, president of Varsity Scoreboards. "In our little town, the high school's baseball and football teams actually share the same field."

    "The specific venue and sport served will always determine what type of scoreboard will work the best," adds Rick Connell, vice president and general manager of Colorado Time Systems, whose company offers a portable board serving both swimming and track, among other multipurpose products ­­— some with digits that can be reconfigured by sliding them along a rail. "A softball complex with numerous fields will most likely always choose a numeric scoreboard over a video scoreboard. Now, on a high school level, where you have a multi-use facility — football, track, soccer — they are trending toward video scoreboards."
     

    PROGRAMMABILITY
    This technology, a small-window version of what's employed on larger message boards, allows for captions above digits to be customized. Instead of "HOME" and "AWAY" lettering on the cabinet itself, the scoreboard operator can type in the names of specific towns or teams — a particularly handy option if the venue hosts tournaments.

    It also helps with the legibility of multisport scoreboards, as digits serving different functions for different sports can be given alternative captions with the flip of a switch from, say, basketball to volleyball mode. "If you have a basketball board in a gymnasium, that board also needs to serve volleyball and wrestling," Coughlin says. "You can program those captions over the digits to change, so that the viewer sees and understands what that data means rather than trying to guess."
     

    DURABILITY
    Scoreboards need to be all but bulletproof, with attention now being paid to how watertight electronic components are in the outdoor setting, even as the cabinets are designed to weigh less than ever.

    As important as the durability of the board itself — which can be subject to the impact of flying balls, particularly in the gym setting — controllers are constantly moved in and out of storage by a variety of handlers, oftentimes student volunteers. For this reason, controllers should be built to last and designed for intuitive use during competition.
     

    CONNECTIVITY
    Glitch-free communication between controller and scoreboard is critical to game operations, and herein lies one of the greatest advancements in traditional scoreboard technology in recent years. "Wireless has become the gold standard," Coughlin says. "Ten years ago, wireless certainly was out there, but it was — across the industry — unreliable. Today's wireless is very reliable. It's spot on, rock solid. We sell much more wireless than hardwired at this point and we, in fact, encourage wireless application, because it's so good."

    And the potential for wireless scoreboard communication is expanding. Want to control the scoreboard from your phone? There's an app for that. "The customer can load the app on any approved mobile device and be in control of the scoreboard," says Tammy Whittaker, vice president of Major Display. "Gone are the days of lengthy service issues and proprietary controllers for our customers."

    Wireless has also introduced an era of data sharing between scoreboard controller and the school website or the mobile devices of individual fans, allowing not only for real-time score updates but sponsorship messaging too.
     

    COST
    Traditional scoreboards get the job done at one-tenth the cost of a video display, if not less, according to Coughlin. That, more than anything, explains why the immediate future of fixed digits remains bright. But that, too, is expected to evolve. "The initial investment in video displays is just not in every customer's budget," Whittaker says. "Over time, an integration of the products will become more common, as pricing changes and technology evolves."

    "There will always be a need for numeric scoreboards because they are so easy to use, and the price for the product and installation is appealing to many of our customers," says Connell, adding, "As video boards become more cost-effective, there will be some facilities that will budget for those rather than numeric scoreboards."

    Pairing available scoreboard technologies with user needs doesn't have to be an either-or proposition. "We still see some colleges and universities incorporate a fixed-digit traditional scoreboard with a message center or a video board, and many high schools do that, as well," Coughlin says. "They may purchase that LED modular programmable display, but also want the traditional scoring-and-time scoreboard with information related to 'ball, strike, out' or 'down, to go, ball on, time outs left' — whatever sport it might be."

    Time ran out on the Russians that night in Lake Placid 37 years ago, and the days appear numbered for the board that blared that glorious final score in bright red: USA 4, URS 3. Will time ever run out on the fixed-digit scoreboard? "Despite the growth in the interest in video displays, traditional scoreboards are going to exist for a long time," Daniel says. "No one needs to write the obituary for the traditional scoreboard."


    This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Athletic Business with the title "Is the clock ticking on fixed-digit scoreboards?"

     


  • Monday, September, 12, 2016
    West Point Post-Game Prayer Draws 'Valid' Complaints

    The U.S. Military Academy's top general says "valid concerns" have been raised over a team prayer after Army upset Temple in a Sept. 2 football game.

    After Army produced and posted video of Army's head coach Jeff Monken instructing a staff member to lead the prayer, the Military Religious Freedom Foundation received approximately 90 complaints. The Foundation regularly raises questions about separation of church and state in the military. The video has since been removed from West Point's website. To leave it online would have been "like grinding salt into the wound," according to Lt. Gen. Robert Caslen, superintendent of West Point.

    "Maybe 90 percent of the people who were out there supported the prayer,” Caslen told The Washington Post on Friday. "But, when you look at it from a legal basis and from a legal standpoint, and then you look at it from a leadership standpoint, there were some concerns, and I think they’re valid concerns."

    Calsen said it was incorrect from a legal and leadership standpoint for Monken to direct or encourage a prayer while serving in a leadership position at a government-funded public institution, according to the Post.

    “It creates an atmosphere where it is expected from everybody to say a prayer regardless of their faith or no faith,” Caslen said. “It’s like me as the superintendent of the Corps of Cadets saying, ‘Let’s take a knee and say a prayer together.’ I don’t have the authority to do that. I cannot use my position of authority — my public position of authority — to direct my subordinates to do something that is inconsistent with their rights. So, that’s probably where we crossed the line.”

     

     

     

     


  • Thursday, September, 08, 2016
    Clear Roofing Material Brightens Vikings Stadium

    This article appeared in the September issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Tuesday, September, 06, 2016
    New MLS Stadiums Embrace Safe-Standing Areas

    This article appeared in the September issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Thursday, August, 25, 2016
    Product Spotlight: Stadiums & Outdoor Surfaces

    These product appeared in the September issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.

    Accella Polyurethane Systems
    Accella Polyurethane Systems recently launched Tru-Motion™ custom flooring solutions for the athletic, play-safety and multipurpose markets. Products include indoor multipurpose surfaces, playground safety surfaces and outdoor running tracks. The holistic set of solutions combines years of technical expertise to deliver high-quality products that perform consistently from the laboratory to each installation site. Accella Polyurethane Systems' distinguished customer support ensures efficient, successful installation of each unique Tru-Motion application.
    www.accellacorp.com
    (888) 899-9665


    Colorado Time Systems
    Since 1972, Colorado Time Systems has provided premier facilities with top-quality timing, scoring and display solutions. The company has a timing system for almost every sport, including swimming, basketball, football, baseball, track and soccer. With a full line of video and LED numeric scoreboards, Colorado Time Systems is the system of choice for top universities and high schools around the country.
    www.coloradotime.com
    (800) 279-0111


    Connor Sports
    Made from rapidly renewable materials, ProTraxx is a durable and resilient track surface designed for safe, comfortable and injury-free training and competition. Its waffle-like base layer provides a shock-absorbing surface that reduces muscle fatigue and uniform performance. The highly weather-resistant, durable material also provides excellent traction with its non-slip texture.
    www.connorsports.com/track
    (800) 746-3512


    Eco Chemical
    Eco Chemical™, the original manufacturer of removable synthetic turf paint, has developed TempLine™ Premium Grass paint for natural grass. Sold in 5-gallon pails as a concentrate, this new product is formulated to raise the standard for appearance and durability, without harming grass plants or breaking the budget. Premium Grass stays on the field and off of uniforms.
    www.eco-templine.com
    (800) 677-7930


    Kay Park-Recreation Corp.
    Speedy Bleacher 108 is a folding and highway-towable seating solution by Kay Park. The versatile and economical unit seats 108 people and features seven rows, an aisle and a handrail. Equipped with an electric folding mechanism and telescoping tongue, it can be easily towed by a conventional vehicle and erected in just a few minutes by one person. The 27-foot-long, 9-foot-high Speedy Bleacher meets safety codes.
    www.kaypark.com
    (800) 987-2313


    PortaFloor
    PortaFloor is a strong, green and cost-effective temporary sport and event flooring system. It is specifically designed to cover and protect grass or turf for rapid turn outdoor events and can be used for temporary tent flooring or when additional heavy support is needed. The rollable functionality of PortaFloor allows for footprint flexibility and easy configuration and creates an easy-to-reuse option for stadium surfacing.
    www.portafloor.com/stadiums-and-arenas
    800-700-2526


    SMG
    For more than 40 years, SMG has been a leading manufacturer of equipment for the installation and maintenance of synthetic turf fields and running tracks. SMG Equipment offers a complete line of turf maintenance equipment, including drag brushes, ground-driven tow-behind sweepers, tractor-mounted PTO-drive sweepers, and the top-of-the-line SMG SportChamp.
    www.smgequipment.com
    (253) 350-8803


    RELATED: Find more solutions for your facility in the Buyers Guide


    This article originally appeared in the September 2016 issue of Athletic Business with the title "Spotlight: Stadiums & Outdoor Surfaces"



  • Thursday, August, 25, 2016
    YMCA's Riverside Site Presents Challenges, Opportunities

    This article appeared in the July/August issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • Thursday, August, 18, 2016
    Physician's Research Prescribes Investment in Parks

    This article appeared in the July/August issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.


  • 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.