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.
  • Thursday, January, 16, 2014
    New Projects: Broncos Centre | Weingart-Lakewood YMCA

    Breaking Ground

    A renovation of and addition to the Denver Broncos' Paul D. Bowlen Memorial Broncos Centre (pictured) is under way. The addition includes construction of a new 115,000-square-foot indoor practice facility with a full-length field, as well as locker room and auxiliary spaces. A 12,000-square-foot expansion will house a new kitchen and video operations and technology offices, and the lobby and current media room will also be renovated. The new field house was designed by Denver-based Sink Combs Dethlefs, and the facility renovations are being led by Intergroup Architects of Littleton, Colo.


  • 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, December, 19, 2013
    New Projects: Nippert Stadium | Agoura Hills Rec | Almont Park

    Breaking Ground

    A renovation and expansion of the University of Cincinnati's Nippert Stadium (above) kicks off this month. The $86 million privately funded project will increase the stadium's capacity from 35,000 to 40,000 and include a new press box, suites and club seats. Renovations to the west concourse will include updates to the concessions stands and restrooms. Heery International, based in Atlanta, is lead architect on the project, which is expected to wrap up in August 2015.


  • Friday, December, 13, 2013
    Maximizing Field Use and Budgets with Seasonal Domes

    When the University of Cincinnati joined the Big East Conference in 2006, it was one of two member schools that didn't have an indoor practice facility for its athletic teams, an element the athletic department deemed essential if its teams wanted to stay competitive. Space for such a facility, however, was harder to come by.


  • Thursday, December, 12, 2013
    Partnership with TRX Instructor Brings Firemen’s Fitness In-House

    The Middleton, Wis., Fire District was looking for a solution to keep its 120-person volunteer force in shape. "What we do is pretty serious," says fire chief Aaron Harris. "In a moment's notice, we could be fighting a structure fire. The strains on the body, the heart — the number-one leading killer of a firefighter is heart attacks — it's something we wanted to address."


  • Wednesday, December, 11, 2013
    Addressing Crime on Park Basketball Courts

    After the September shooting of 13 people at a southside park in Chicago, the cry rose again: get basketball out of the parks. From gang violence and drug use to littering and foul language, park basketball courts have been hailed as a nuisance in many communities over the years, prompting residents to call for their removal.

    "We're fortunate that we're not like other areas with homicides occurring on a daily basis," Lafayette, Ind., police chief Pat Flannelly told The Journal Courier this summer in response to the city's decision to remove hoops at one of its parks, "and we intend to keep it that way."

    While they pale in comparison to gang violence, issues of noise and littering are a much more common example of the type of behavior that puts basketball courts in disfavor with neighbors. "The basketball rims at Memorial Park will be removed for two weeks," Williamsport, Pa., Mayor Gabriel Campana wrote to the Williamsport Sun Gazette this summer. "A lesson will be taught as a father and mother teaches their children. If the behavior improves, the courts will remain. If not, I will consider removing the basketball rims permanently. We cannot enable bad behavior."

    The extent to which basketball courts "enable bad behavior" and crime, however, has been blown out of proportion. A 2011 study published in Security Journal examined the incidence of crime in Philadelphia's neighborhood parks over a seven-month period. While the research did suggest that crime rates in park areas tended to be higher than the citywide crime rate, it was not the case with all parks. Moreover, the study found that any place that attracted crowds — a shopping mall, for example — tends to have a higher incidence of crime.

    Park basketball courts may not be the magnet for crime that some community members paint them out to be, but neither are they incident-free. So what can a parks and recreation department do to set up their basketball facilities (and end users) for success?

    GET ORGANIZED
    The researchers behind the study in Security Journal considered a variety of other park factors and their relation to crime rates — accessibility, surveillance and guardianship, as well as "activity generators" such as recreational fields and courts. They found that the presence of activity spaces correlated to a decrease in crime rates in parks. The more activities available and the more organization, the more the crime level was reduced.

    Enter programs like Chicago's Windy City Hoops, which turns basketball at 11 Chicago parks in high-crime areas into an organized event. "In those communities, crime and violence have gone down," says Tony McCoy, a supervisor and 19-year veteran with the Chicago Park District. The program helps tackle one of the biggest issues plaguing the area: gang violence. "From my experience, any sport, not just basketball, helps with conflict resolution," says McCoy. "You get aggression out, you get exercise."

    Eleven sites serve 100 to 150 youths each, and the program is organized into six-week sessions. The role of the parks department in organizing and overseeing the games is crucial to their success, says McCoy. Teenagers are not the most exemplary members of society, though some are more mature than others. Generally speaking, giving them freedom without structure is a good way to set them up for trouble. "Basketball is one of those sports where you have disagreements and arguments," McCoy says. "But if you have strong mentors and good referees, it is successful."

    Proper planning also allows the program to address the gang tensions within communities. Says McCoy, "One kid might be in one gang and another in another gang, but they're both on the same basketball team. When you know each other, you're less likely to harm or have a conflict off the court. It doesn't eliminate it totally, but it helps."

    To bring down boundaries not just within communities but between communities, the program also ends each session with an organized all-star tournament. The tournaments will rotate between the participating parks, giving the youths a chance to interact with their peers from other communities and help familiarize them with more of the park district's facilities. "They look forward to it," says McCoy, who is just as excited about the program. "We'll mix them up and tear these barriers down, eliminate murders, shootings and criminal activity."

    BUILD A CONNECTION
    Though McCoy admits that these larger issues won't be eliminated overnight, the program has already made a noticeable impact when it comes to combating the more common issues associated with basketball courts, such as litter and graffiti. "They care about the spot they're playing in," says McCoy. "They don't want to tear up where they're playing. They're taking ownership in their community."

    More than just irritating neighbors, disrespect for park facilities — if only in the form of litter — often makes other park visitors feel unwelcome or unsafe, as well as lays the ground for more serious altercations. Luckily, it doesn't take an organized league to tackle such issues.

    The City of Haverhill, Mass., dealt with noise and littering complaints this past summer when one of its parks went offline for renovations, resulting in increased use of another park. The first thing Vinny Ouellette, parks and recreation manager, did? "We went in and met with the players," he says. "We reminded them that they were in a neighborhood park and they should keep their language in check, as well as their noise level. They didn't realize it was getting out of control."

    The approach was respectful of the youth players and made them feel welcome. "It comes down to communicating," says Ouellette. "Get out there and let them know that the park is there for them but that there's a responsibility that goes along with that."

    Treating the youths like responsible adults was more effective than temporarily taking away hoops to teach a lesson, as some communities such as Williamsport have tried. As for the issue of additional litter around the courts, the parks department enlisted additional help to keep the area clean. "We have a church group bring volunteers to help clean," Ouellette says. "The park really has been kept up, which gives incentive to the users to keep things picked up. They know that we care and others care, so they take the time to pick up bottles before they leave."

    Creating a connection between park amenities and their users, whether through organized programming or simply interacting with users, can offer benefits that go beyond more peaceful parks. After talking with users and identifying the need for more outlets to play during the winter months, Ouellette was able to arrange for more indoor facilities to be open for their use, and opened the door for other programs, as well. "Once we get them inside, we can talk with them about job programs, education programs," he says. "We can help them take advantage of those programs."


  • Sunday, October, 20, 2013
    New Projects: Half Acre Gymnasium; Spring Hill (Va.) RECenter; Munson Stadium

    The University of Wyoming has broken ground on a two-phase renovation and expansion of its Half Acre Gymnasium (pictured). The renovated facility will feature a new entrance and lounge, academic space for the Kinesiology/Health and Theater/Dance departments, new racquetball courts, expanded outdoor program space, a climbing wall and expanded fitness spaces.


  • Sunday, October, 20, 2013
    Addressing Water Damage to Hardwood Courts

    It's a scene no facility manager wants to walk into on a Monday morning: a gym flooded with water.


  • Sunday, October, 20, 2013
    Safeguarding Youth Sports Programs Against Embezzlement

    On a sunny Saturday morning, as parents gather along the sidelines and chatter idly while their children warm up for a morning of soccer practice, the last thing on anyone's mind or lips are questions about the financial records of the organization.


  • 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.


  • 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.