- Thursday, September, 03, 2015
New Projects: Kalamazoo College | Gunlock Performance Center | Windsor Recreation
Miami University broke ground last month on Gunlock Family Athletic Performance Center (above). Overlooking Yager Stadium's north end zone, the facility will provide a team locker room, a weight room, coaches' offices, an auditorium and meeting rooms for the football grogram. The design, by HOK of Kansas City, Mo., also includes a state-of-the-art sports medicine and rehabilitation center that will serve all student-athletes. Set to open by fall 2016, the $7 million facility connects Yager Stadium to the Miami Indoor Sports Center, which opened this past winter.
- Tuesday, September, 01, 2015
Pre-Programming and Re-Programming at Maggie Daley Park
The neighborhood surrounding Daley Bicentennial Plaza has changed a great deal since the plaza was built in 1976, and when the city needed to completely remove the plaza to renovate the parking garage underneath it, the Chicago Park District saw an opportunity to redefine the space.
- Tuesday, August, 18, 2015
Adaptive Sports Programs Aiding Recovery for Military
Last month, the sixth annual Warrior Games took place at Marine Corps Base Quantico, Va., a departure from its previous host city, Colorado Springs. While past games have been organized in partnership between the Department of Defense and U.S. Paralympics, the DOD took the lead in organizing this year's event and will continue to do so, with different branches of the military hosting each year. As noted by a department spokesperson, the change was part of the DOD's effort "to better align the event with the Games' core mission of playing a vital role in recovery for wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans."
- Friday, August, 14, 2015
Judge Rules Against Parks and Rec Employees in Lawsuit
A Shawnee County, Kan., judge has ruled in favor of the city of Topeka in a lawsuit filed by 10 former parks and recreation employees. The lawsuit was filed in May 2012 by the 10 employees following the merger of the city’s parks and recreation department with the county of Shawnee’s parks and recreation department. The case was brought before Shawnee County District Judge Rebecca W. Crotty in April and a verdict issued last week.
- Thursday, August, 13, 2015
New Projects: ODU Practice Facility | McNiff Fitness Center
- Monday, August, 03, 2015
Batboy Struck by Batter's Practice Swing Dies
A 9-year-old batboy has died after being struck in the head with a bat during a game of the National Baseball Congress World Series in Wichita, Kan., on Saturday.
Kaiser Carlile was retrieving a bat after an out during a game between the Liberal Bee Jays and San Diego Waves when he crossed into the path of a batter taking practice swings. Carlile had been wearing a helmet at the time, as required by the NBC.
An umpire who is also a trained paramedic gave first aid until emergency responders arrived and transported Carlile to a local hospital where he died Sunday evening.
“With the permission of the family, and with much sorrow and a very broken heart, I regretfully inform everyone that Kaiser Carlile passed away earlier this evening," the team said in a statement.
The game between the Bee Jays and Waves continued after the incident, and played again on Sunday despite news of Carlile’s passing.
"No one wrote us a book to tell us how to do this,” said general manager Mike Carlile, a cousin of Kaiser’s. “We’re just dealing with it the best way we know how and that’s to keep coming out and keep honoring Kaiser on the field."
- Sunday, August, 02, 2015
How to Avoid Disputes in a Public/Private Partnership
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- Tuesday, July, 28, 2015
Six Steps to Creating an Aquatic Preventive Maintenance Plan
As summer temperatures climb across the country, so too does attendance at recreational pools. Especially for seasonal-use pools, the apex of summer presents a peak in revenues. It's also about the worst possible time to have to shut down for unexpected repairs. But for facilities with a preventive-maintenance plan in place, it's nothing to sweat over.
- Tuesday, July, 21, 2015
Family Suing YMCA Over Son's Climbing Wall Injury
Parents of a boy injured earlier this year after falling off a climbing wall at the Weston (Fla.) YMCA are suing the organization, alleging that the injury was due to an employee’s failure to secure his harness, as well as the absence of safety mats.
Devin Pabian was celebrating his 11th birthday with a party at the YMCA and rock climbing with a group of friends. He had been harnessed in by a worker and scaled the 30-foot-tall wall. As he attempted to rappel down, he instead fell.
The lawsuit alleges the fall was caused by an improperly secured harness or rope, and that the staff member in charge of monitoring the climbers had left the area.
Pabian suffered fractures to his wrist, ankle and spine and had to be airlifted to a hospital for surgery.
"The miracle is he survived such a fall, the tragedy is it was preventable had the facility taken the necessary and reasonable safeguards to protect such young members and visitors they entice to such an attraction," says the family’s attorney, Jay Cohen.
The Pabian family is seeking more than $15,000 in damages. A YMCA spokesperson declined to comment on the lawsuit.
- Thursday, July, 16, 2015
Tips to Increase the Eco-Efficiency of an Athletic Laundry Facility
Working in an athletic laundry facility is a complicated job. Anyone working in such an environment can attest to the headache caused just by athletic uniforms, which have become anything but uniform. "You probably have five different materials on a typical athletic uniform now," says Bill Brooks, North American sales manager for Ripon, Wis.-based UniMac. "I've been dealing with an NFL uniform with five different fabrics. To get paint out of a uniform with five different fabrics requires a complicated wash cycle and chemical needs."
- Monday, June, 13, 2016
Eat your Veggies
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, June, 06, 2016
Passing the Torch in Facility Design
This article appeared in the June issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.
- Thursday, May, 05, 2016
At the moment...
I can't think of a recent issue of Athletic Business that captures the feel of our industry quite as comprehensively as this one. No, we don't have any momentous, industry-changing topics this month, but what we do have speaks to the current environment of athletic, fitness and recreation professionals.
- Thursday, March, 31, 2016
Our Common Ground
This article appeared in the April issue of Athletic Business. Athletic Business is a free magazine for professionals in the athletic, fitness and recreation industry. Click here to subscribe.
- 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  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.