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, May, 13, 2014
    Overcoming Gym Membership Retention Challenges

    The rise of lower-priced clubs have put greater pressure on gym owners to create an environment that keeps members happy while also empowering them to feel confident that their gym membership investment is well worth it. Ultimately, though, they may lose those members to lower-priced alternatives, writing off the member loss as simply a financial decision. The reality is that the warning signs were there; they just failed to see what was right in front of them.


  • 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.


  • 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.


  • Thursday, April, 17, 2014
    Inside the 65th Annual NIRSA Conference

    The 65th Annual NIRSA Conference and Recreational Sports Exposition will be held April 23-26 at the Gaylord Opryland Resort and Convention Center in Nashville, Tenn. Last year, NIRSA co-located with the Association for the Promotion of Campus Activities (ACPA) in Las Vegas, requiring the show to be hosted across a variety of venues. This year, everything will be housed in one central location.


  • 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.


  • Thursday, April, 10, 2014
    Technology, Collaboration Key to Protecting Open-Access Events

    No one anticipated — no one could have anticipated — what happened on that day," recalls Boston Police Commissioner William Evans. An avid runner with more than 40 marathons under his belt, including last year's Boston Marathon, Evans has been preparing harder for this year's Boston Marathon than any other race he's run. But unlike previous years, his morning runs with a member of the Boston Athletic Association aren't meant as training for his participation in the race; they are meant as preparation for his more daunting task of protecting the race.


  • 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.


  • Monday, October, 20, 2014
    Improving Pool Safety with Model Aquatic Health Code

    The movie "Jaws" made you afraid to go into the water, but it was the inclusion of the "Jaws" theme music in another "scary" water scene five years later that likely resonated more with moviegoers. But instead of a shark, the object of fear was a Baby Ruth candy bar. Harold Ramis' classic comedy "Caddyshack" — virtually impossible not to quote while golfing nearly 35 years after its release — makes light of the pool safety nightmare known as a Code Brown, but that subject is certainly no laughing matter to pool operators tasked with keeping their aquatic facilities safe and clean.


  • Thursday, October, 09, 2014
    Fan Violence Reaching New Lows

    Levi's Stadium is the most technologically advanced stadium in the U.S., so why have people only been talking about what's happened in its bathrooms? The reason is a sickening video that shows a fan apparently telling another fan that a stall is open for him to use. The fan responds with three fast punches that knock that fan unconscious, rendering him partially paralyzed. And earlier in the week at Angel Stadium of Anaheim, three men brutally beat a man in the parking lot after the Angels lost to the Kansas City Royals in the ALDS. As of this writing, there was no reason given for the attack. It may seem that fan violence in California receives the most national media attention (why are you so angry California sports fans?), but the reality is that fan violence is everywhere. 

    My eight-year-old daughter has asked me multiple times when I'm finally going to take her to her first Chicago Bears game. I tell her when the Bears have a defense, but the truth is that I don't want to expose her or her six-year-old sister to that environment. The cursing and obnoxious behavior, sadly they have seen that with Daddy when he watches the aforementioned Bears defense. But the fan violence, that is the real reason that keeps my family away from professional sporting events these days. 

    Fan violence isn't increasing and it's not a new phenomenon at sporting events; we just have the technology (camera phones) to document each and every incident. NFL attendance will always remain strong. After all, it's still the most popular sport in this country and most teams only have eight home game opportunities, so the people will always be there, along with the temptation to apparently punch those people. So what can we do to turn left hooks into fist bumps?

    In the October issue of Athletic Business, crowd-control expert Dr. Tamara Madensen examines crowd dynamics, and why event and security managers tasked with protecting its spectators must thoroughly understand these types of situations if they are truly committed to curbing fan violence. There are a variety of other tactics venues can employ, as AB senior editor Paul Steinbach learned in his great One on One with Fans Against Violence founder Kathy Samoun. FAV is a fan-based organization committed to "taking back the stands." Check out FAV's website, well worth the time.  

    I've been fortunate to have become more and more immersed in sports security through my close work with the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4), and I can assure all families and fans that ensuring a safe environment for all spectators is a topic constantly being addressed by those responsible for securing those events and venues. Because this is the fight that's not only worth fighting, but a fight we must win.  

     


  • Tuesday, September, 16, 2014
    The Death of the Multisport Athlete

    Friday night lights are back for high schools across the country, and as you read this, many of the nation's top athletes are hard at work on the gridiron preparing for this week's upcoming game. I remember my first experience around a star athlete. I was 11 years old and my oldest brother was attending Wheaton North High School, which at that time was home to Kent Graham, the best high school athlete in the state of Illinois. Kent was a 6-foot-5-inch physical freak and the number-one-ranked quarterback in the nation. He also played safety. He earned three all-conference distinctions in basketball and regularly hit .400 for the baseball team. My dad fondly recalls Kent hitting a home run off my brother in Little League that cleared the lights and still hasn't landed.


  • Friday, August, 22, 2014
    Should Athletes Lose Scholarships Over Social Media Miscues?

    One of the debates that has intrigued me recently involves the increasing amount of coaches that are withdrawing scholarship offers due to a high school recruit exhibiting unacceptable or inappropriate behavior on social media. According to this story we published last week, high school coaches in Georgia are applauding University of Georgia head football coach Mark Richt for dropping a recruit that misbehaved on Twitter.


  • Wednesday, August, 06, 2014
    Protecting Athletes From Heat-Related Illnesses

    No one should forget that deadly week in the summer of 2011 when two high school football players and one high school football coach died from heat-related causes. That following summer, in 2012, athletic administrators were feeling a different kind of heat: parents of the two football players who died in 2011, Isaiah Laurencin in Florida and Don'terio J. Searcy in Georgia, sued their respective county boards, asserting that the coaches pushed the boys too hard. Both schools, Miramar (Fla.) High School and Fitzgerald (Ga.) High School, boast prominent football programs. And it's not just the schools and county boards drawing the legislative ire of angry parents.


  • 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.