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.
  • 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, 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.


  • Monday, July, 07, 2014
    Inside the 2014 NCS4 Conference

    The National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security will hold its fifth annual conference in Indianapolis, July 8-10. This year's theme of "The Business of Sports Safety and Security" fits perfectly with the evolving landscape of athletic security, according to NCS4 director Lou Marciani: "The security function's role is now more than ever a business one, as security has become a core function of finance, law, marketing and operations."


  • 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.


  • Monday, June, 23, 2014
    Parent Behavior, Cyberbullying Hurting High School Sportsmanship

    It is widely acknowledged that the role of high school athletics is to promote life-skills education through sports, but lately a key life skill in this equation — sportsmanship — has deteriorated on the interscholastic level to the point that one high school athletic association recently considered banning the time-honored post-game handshake.


  • 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, April, 29, 2014
    Tuesday Takedown: Coaches' Hazing Accountability

    Watertown (Mass.) High School's football team used to hold a camp with some long-standing traditions, some of which included forcing players to sit in urine, doing chores for veteran players and having younger players participate in a cookie run where the boys were stripped, cookies were placed in their buttocks, and they had to race across the field. If the cookie fell out, they were forced to eat it.


  • Tuesday, April, 15, 2014
    Tuesday Takedown: Feeling The Bang With Diamond Dallas Page

    Age Wave CEO Ken Dychtwald delivered the first keynote presentation at last year's Athletic Business Conference & Expo in San Diego. The theme of his inspiring talk was embracing active aging, as well as the wellness revolution. He began his presentation by telling the audience of 2,500 plus the story of Arthur, a former Army paratrooper who had been injured during the Gulf War. Too many jumps had taken its toll on Arthur's back and knees, and for the past 15 years, he had been told by medical "experts" that he would never walk unassisted again. In his inspirational video watched by more than 10 million people (and embedded below), Arthur describes himself as a 47-year-old disabled veteran who had given up. He couldn't walk. He couldn't run. He had no hope until he reached out to one person: Diamond Dallas Page.


  • Tuesday, April, 08, 2014
    Tuesday Takedown: College Search Firm Business Booming

    The University of South Florida thought it had its new men's basketball in Steve Masiello, but an inconsistency uncovered during a background check determined the Manhattan College coach had lied on his resume about graduating from the University of Kentucky. He had already signed a five-year deal with USF when the contract was voided after the discrepancy was discovered. (In an interesting twist, Manhattan opted to keep Masiello but only if he completed his undergraduate degree.)


  • Thursday, April, 03, 2014
    Security In Spotlight at 2014 Boston Marathon

    "Watched my dad come up Boylston as I stood outside the Lenox Hotel. We high fived as he passed and then once he made it down to the finish area I turned around to walk back to Ring Street to try make my way to the meeting area. First explosion happened within seconds of turning around. People screamed and a few around me yelled to "Stay calm." It was so crowded where I was standing no one really got anywhere before the second blast. At that point, it was crazy, I got pushed into the alley way and everyone around me was knocked to the ground. Since we were between the two blasts it wasn't clear which way to run. I went toward Exeter and jumped the barricade to get off Boylston and to search for my dad as quickly as possible."


  • Tuesday, April, 01, 2014
    Tuesday Takedown: Rioting Is The Real March Madness

    I am proud to call Madison, Wis. my home away from home. Despite being based in the Chicago area, I have had the pleasure of spending many weeks over the past nine months in Madison at AB Media headquarters. The office is located approximately one mile from the beautiful University of Wisconsin campus. Needless to say, many of my co-workers bleed Badger red and now, by extension, so do I. On Monday, I walked into the office to many smiling faces after Wisconsin's thrilling overtime victory over Arizona on Saturday punched the Badgers' ticket to the NCAA Men's Final Four. But while Wisconsin experienced the thrill of victory, Arizona took the agony of defeat to a sadly familiar level.


  • 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.