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, December, 01, 2015
    Basketball Court Design as Branding Tool

    Remember when the University of Oregon changed the look of college basketball with its evergreen-silhouetted court at Matthew Knight Arena in 2011? Or when Florida International University's beach-towel-themed court raised some eyebrows in 2013? The two are notable examples in a growling list of unique court designs. past summer, the University of Maryland unveiled its new flag-bordered design at the XFINITY Center; Northern Kentucky University unveiled a floor "watermarked" with a Norse ship at BB&T Arena; and a handful of NBA teams unveiled new court designs. "Over the past four or five years, there's been a tremendous focus for branding opportunities on basketball courts and getting your message out," says John Prater, president of Chattanooga, Tenn.-based Praters Athletic Flooring, the creative spark behind some of college athletics' most iconic basketball courts.

  • Thursday, November, 19, 2015
    New Projects: Mizzou Softball Stadium | Niagara Community Center | Memphis Basketball

    Breaking Ground

    The University of Missouri has begun construction on a $16 million softball stadium (pictured).

  • Tuesday, November, 10, 2015
    Implementing a Medical Fitness Program

    Healthcare. Health club. The two sound like they should go hand in hand, but for decades, there has been a large disconnect between them. While anyone working in the fitness industry recognizes the impact exercise and activity has on health, the specific medical connection hasn't been a point of emphasis. And in the healthcare industry, the focus for too long was geared more toward treating illness than encouraging holistic wellness.

  • Friday, October, 30, 2015
    Seniors Go Topless to Fundraise for Rec Center

    Looking for a creative way to raise some extra funds for your recreation center project? Pilot Mound, small town in Manitoba is raising some eyebrows with its latest initiative — selling calendars featuring topless men in “flirty” poses.

  • Friday, October, 30, 2015
    Judge Dismisses Class-Action Concussion Suit Against IHSA

    A Cook County judge has dismissed a lawsuit filed last year calling for the Illinois High School Association to improve its concussion-prevention policies, putting a quiet end to the first class-action lawsuit filed against a prep sports governing body.

  • Monday, October, 26, 2015
    Identifying the Right Video Surveillance Technology for Your Stadium

    The award-winning, $1 million video surveillance system at MetLife Stadium features more than 130 megapixel cameras with a range of features including dual H.264/JPEG encoding, true Day/Night functionality, IR Cut filter, extended motion detection and resolutions ranging from 1.3 megapixels to 10 megapixels.

  • Tuesday, October, 20, 2015
    Reshaping the Campus Climbing Wall

    Renovating, expanding or building a new campus recreation center? More than likely, the topic of a climbing wall is going to come up. What was once a point of differentiation for campus recreation programs has become nearly standard in facilities across the country, driven in part by the college arms race but fueled by a growing interest in climbing.

  • Monday, October, 19, 2015
    School District Sued Over Former Athlete’s Concussions

    The family of a former La Jolla High School football player is suing the San Diego Unified School District for failing to remove their son from a game despite suffering a concussion.

  • Thursday, October, 15, 2015
    New Projects: New England Sports Village | Brothers Development Center

    Grand Openings

    Portland University held an official dedication for its Beauchamp Recreation & Wellness Center (above) last month. Serving as an anchor point for the northwest corner of campus, the $23.7 million, 73,000-square-foot center features glazing around all sides of the building, which creates a two-story beacon of light at night. The design, led by HOK in partnership with Soderstrom Architects of Portland, utilizes a "fitness neighborhood" concept and features gymnasiums, exercise studios, a suspended track, a 32-foot-tall climbing wall and an outdoor pursuits center. Additionally, a functional training area features connected indoor and outdoor spaces...

  • Tuesday, September, 22, 2015
    Choosing the Right Aquatic Amenity to Upgrade Your Facility

    Most recreational aquatic facilities built in recent years take their cue from waterparks, designing facilities complete with waterslides, lazy rivers, wave pools and a list of other attractions designed to, well, attract more users and more revenue. Older facilities with few or none of these frills face tough choices to stay competitive in such a market. Short of investing tens of millions into a new facility, smarter, smaller investments can pump new interest into an otherwise disadvantaged pool.

  • Wednesday, September, 16, 2015
    Blog: Quantifying the Impact of Parks and Rec

    The National Park and Recreation Association's annual convention is underway this week in Las Vegas, Nev. After arriving Monday afternoon and getting my first taste of life in the City of Lights, I caught a brief glimpse of the sun and the strip before steeling myself for a day of windowless sessions in overly air-conditioned rooms.

  • Wednesday, July, 08, 2015
    Blog: Women’s Soccer and Return on Investment

    In the days after the U.S. Women’s soccer team’s World Cup win, we’ve heard a lot of back and forth over the issue of how much the players were paid. The women’s team received a record-setting $2 million for their win… record-setting for women, that is. Last year, the German men’s team earned $35 million for its World Cup win.

    “But it’s all about the revenue!” claim those who justify the discrepancy. The women’s tournament brought in a mere $17 million in sponsorship revenue compared to $529 million for last year’s men’s World Cup. Thus, because the men bring in more revenue, it only makes sense that they get paid more.


    When I was in college, I interned for an editor at a book publishing company. I recall, among the editor’s many tales of the publishing world, the story of how he signed one particular new author and set her up for success. Her work was good, he said, but she was relatively unknown and still new.

    For those more familiar with coaching contracts than book contracts, book contracts typically pay an advance, anything as low as a couple thousand dollars (J.K. Rowling was given a £1500 advance on the first Harry Potter book) to upwards of $100,000, if you’re an established name. If a new author doesn't go over well with the audience, the publisher hasn't lost much. If they're good, the publisher simply ups the advance on the next book.

    Rather than offering this new author something at the lower end of the spectrum as would befit the situation, the editor swung big. I don’t recall the exact dollar amount, but I think it was at least $20,000 (chump change for a pro athlete, but a big deal for a struggling writer).

    His reasoning? The more the publisher invested in an author, the harder it would work to ensure her success, giving her a preferred launch date, better marketing and visibility. Part of this was about recouping the investment — book advances are paid against royalties, which means a larger advance needs to be offset by greater book sales if the publisher wants to come out ahead.  

    What does this have to do with soccer?

    I’m not in the sports marketing business. I’m not even in the book marketing business. But I do know that a product’s success is as much about the effort that goes into marketing it as the quality of the product itself. 

    Don’t justify lower pay for female athletes by pointing to the lower revenue they generate — they’re not the ones negotiating sponsorship contracts or selling commercial slots. In the case of women’s soccer, FIFA secretary general Jerome Valcke attributes the lower revenues to women’s soccer being a newer sport than men’s.

    “We played the [20th] men’s World Cup in 2014, when we are now playing the seventh women’s World Cup,” Valcke said in December press conference. “We have still another [13] World Cups before potentially women should receive the same amount as men. The men waited until 2014 to receive as much money as they received.”

    Or, how about this: Pay the players what they’re worth, and then put in the effort to back that investment up.

  • Friday, June, 19, 2015
    A Response to Critics of Soaring College Rec Spending

    “LSU Faces Dramatic Budget Cuts While It Builds An Expensive Lounging Pool” This was the headline of an article that appeared in The Huffington Post this past May criticizing Louisiana State University’s spending of $84.75 million on an overhaul of its recreation facilities despite a threatened $55.5 million funding cut from the state.

    Last week New Jersey governor Chris Christie admonished what he considers wasteful spending in the higher education system, denouncing “extras” such as lazy rivers and climbing walls.

    "Some colleges are drunk on cash and embarking on crazy spending binges,” he said.

    If you work in college recreation, the incidents made you cringe.

    The cost of higher education is going to get a lot of attention leading up to the 2016 election, and unfortunately, that’s going to come with a lot of misguided scrutiny of campus recreation programs.

    What both incidents overlook — as anyone working in college recreation will immediately recognize — is that a university’s education budget and recreation budget are two entirely different things. Campus recreation centers are not built at the expense of science labs or classrooms. For most universities, such projects are funded (and maintained) from students fees.

    "The funds for the project come directly from the student fee and can only be used for the project," LSU spokesman Ernie Ballard told The Huffington Post. "Similar to donations to the university or funds from the state for capital projects, these types of funds can't be shifted to fill in budget holes or be used in another way. They can only be used for what they were originally designated for."

    The impact of such facilities on the price of a college education is actually minimal, according to David Feldman, economics professor at College of William & Mary.

    “Lazy rivers are only a tiny piece of the costs,” he told Inside Higher Ed. “These lazy rivers are not the reason why student debt is soaring seemingly out of control. The big problem that higher education faces today, at the public side, is cuts in state spending.”

    Some argue that cuts in spending are actually driving the construction of bigger and better recreation amenities, as universities look draw in more out of state students. According to research from the University of Michigan, “wealthier students [are] much more willing to pay for consumption amenities.”

    Despite its negative headline, The Huffington Post article went on to admit as much, quoting a 2013 article in which former Miami University president James Garland explains, “We took advantage of low interest rates for municipal bonds and invested in rehabilitating our residence halls and eating facilities and putting in more recreation -- workout rooms and lounges, and the kinds of accouterments that really dressed up a campus and made it a much more comfortable and familiar place for upper-middle class students. So those students started applying to us in droves. Application numbers went up, we became more selective, and the SAT scores of the entering class became higher."

    So, in the face of a $55.5 million budget cut (avoided, thankfully) LSU would need to rely more heavily on the appeal of its non-academic offerings to bring in more students and more revenue. As Jane Wellman, a finance expert with College Futures Foundation, told Inside Higher Ed, the issue is not of how colleges spend money, but the priorities of schools.

    “The sense is that college costs are going up too rapidly, and institutions aren’t doing enough to control them,” she says. “The critique underneath that is the critique of the decision-making culture in higher education.”

    Rather than ask why LSU would spend $85 million on a recreation center, maybe politicians should be asking why the state of Louisiana was mulling a $55 million cut to education.

    We won’t get into the other complexities of campus recreation facilities, such as the positive economic impact of construction (According to NIRSA, $1.7B was spent on 157 recreation construction projects in 2012), the employment opportunities afforded to students, the educational programming opportunities, the importance of recreation to students' quality of life (and GPA), the role in building a schools’ reputation, or any number of issues.

    Unfortunately, neither will the politicians pinning the climbing costs of higher education on climbing walls.


  • 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.