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  • The AB Extra: June 26

    by Laura Godlewski June 2015

    This week's AB Extra features controversy over a future Olympic stadium, Duke's Coach K's secret Twitter account and a new technology that will be used in Major League Baseball based off of video games. 


    Criticism Over 'Bike Helmet' Shaped Olympic Stadium
    Even though the summer Olympics in Japan are still five years away, the country is facing major backlash over the design of the new 80,000-seat Tokyo stadium. 

    It's been likened to a bike helmet, a spaceship and a turtle and almost every major Japanese architect has criticized the design, made by architect Zaha Hadid. 

    Criticism has gone past the design, as well. The first design, which has since been refined, cost $2.4 billion. The original price tag was twice the allocated amount for the stadium, which many thought wasn't a good choice for a country still dealing with the aftermath of a major earthquake and tsunami. Additionally, a public housing project will have to be torn down so the stadium can be built. 

    The stadium will hold the 2019 rugby World Cup final, will serve as the venue for the opening and closing ceremonies for the Olympics and will host all of the Olympic track and field events.


    Rappelling Down a Building to Raise Money for YMCA
    What heights would you be willing to go to in order to participate in a fundraiser? Some people in Duluth, Minnesota will be rappelling down a nine-story building in the city to raise money for the Duluth Area Family YMCA.

    To be eligible to rappel, participants must raise $1,000 and pay a $50 registration fee. They will be lowered down the Sellwood Building by rope-trained professionals from a company called Over the Edge, which uses these rappelling events to help fundraisers. 

    The rappels will take place during the Sidewalk Days event and have been taking place during the event for the past several years. This is the first year the Duluth Area Family YMCA will receive the money from the fundraiser. 

    According to Katie McBride, the marketing director for the Duluth Area Family YMCA, “The money is going to go towards youth programing, things like getting new programs for our youth, getting youth to be able to have memberships or camp scholarships, and for Mentor Duluth to be in the schools. So it’s really going towards the youth here in the community.”


    Scary Mascot for Scottish Soccer Team
    Fans of Partick Thistle F.C. might be in for a bit of a shock if they happen to see the team's new mascot Kingsley at a game.  

    The new mascot came after the team signed a sponsorship deal with US investment firm Kingsland Capital. It was designed by artist David Shrigley, the new mascot and revealed to the public earlier this week, leading to thousands of comments on social media sites.

    The original tweet introducing Kingsley has amassed nearly 4,000 retweets on Twitter.  

    According to Shrigley, “He represents the angst of being a football fan – which anyone who has supported Partick Thistle over the last few decades understands.”

    It's not entirely clear what the mascot is supposed to be, it's been compared it to a very unusual looking sun while some say it resembles a Simpsons character. We'll let you be the judge


    Duke's Coach K Has Secret Twitter Account
    You won't find Duke University's men's basketball Coach Krzyzewski on Twitter under his real name, but he says he does have an account under an alias so that he can monitor his players on the social media site. 

    Coach K says he doesn't care about having his own official Twitter account or having thousands of followers, but he does care about what his players are tweeting. 

    "I tell my guys I’m following you. Then if I see something, you text them, you gotta watch. But there are a lot of cool things that they do. I do like that they do it.”

    It's no secret to his players that he does this says Former Duke player Jahlil Okafor. “Everybody knows. When we’re on the bus, we always see his phone. He has the words really big. So we don’t know his Twitter name but we know he sees us on Instagram, we know he sees us on Twitter.”

    Hopefully Coach K has passed along our blog post on the 9 Social Media Dos and Don'ts for Student-Athletes to his players!


    New App Is 'Tinder for Athletes'
    A Miami-based startup is building a new app called Sportsbuddy, which will match people in the same area based on their relative skill in a particular sport or physical activity, such as yoga. 

    After creating a free profile on the app, you select a sport to play and the "smart matching" technology suggests people who are nearby and are at a similar skill level. Once you invite someone to play, you can chat through the app to decide where to meet. 

    After meeting, users rate their match. This information is kept confidential but is used to better match people in the future. 

    There are currently seven sports categories including tennis, golf, soccer, yoga, running, basketball, gym and an "other" option. More will be available soon. 


    New Technology Could Give Insights Into Pitchers’ Mechanics
    Michael Eckstein was at a business lunch with executives from the Philadelphia Phillies when he got the idea for Kinatrax, a technology that uses cameras positioned throughout a ballpark to capture the pitcher's motion and produces biomechanical data on the pitcher's form.

    Eckstein based the technology off of the Microsoft technology called Kinect, which is a motion-capture system used in conjunction with XBOX 360 that allows users to control video games with their movements. Eckstein wanted to use this same idea but in a larger format to capture a pitcher's motion during games to understand the mechanics they use to throw the ball. 

    The technology, which uses ultra-high speed cameras, was successfully tested at the New York Mets' Citi Field while the team was away playing games. The Tampa Bay Rays will be the first team to use the technology at their stadium during a game. 

    The Kinatrax generates thousands of data points that can give insight into a pitcher's form and may also predict who might be at a greater risk for injury based on how they throw. 

    Check out a video of the technology in action below.

    KinaTrax MLB Pitch Side Analytics.avi from KinaTrax on Vimeo.

    Check out the AB Extra from past weeks: 
    June 19
    June 12
    June 5

  • University of Missouri Restructures Donor Program

    by Laura Godlewski June 2015

    The University of Missouri athletic department is overhauling its donor system in order to keep the school financially competitive with other schools in the SEC.

  • Extreme Makeover: Small College Edition

    by Oliver Snider, Guest Contributor April 2015

    While the closing of Sweet Briar College was being contested in Bedford County (Va.) Circuit Court — an April 14 hearing gave some life to opponents of the move — another small college was throwing in the towel. On April 11, Tennessee Temple University announced it would dissolve as of May 1 and merge with Piedmont International University, a private Christian college in Winston-Salem, N.C. The recent list of closings, including Lebanon College and Mid-Continent University, comprises only a small handful out of 1,650 private, nonprofit colleges still in operation, but nonetheless is a sobering reminder that the effects of the recession linger on — and may, in fact, represent a permanent change to the collegiate landscape.

  • Community Supports Footing Tax Bill for Church Ballpark

    by Emily Attwood March 2015

    While nonprofit and religious organizations have been under the microscope in recent years when it comes to tax-exempt status of their fitness and recreation facilities, voters in Boscawen, N.H. last night approved a plan that would donated $6,000 to a local church to cover property taxes and maintenance on its baseball field.

    The field, owned by Boscawen Congregational Church, was built in 1915 and has been offered free for use by local groups over the last century, including Merrimack Valley Youth Baseball and Softball. But in 2014, the city’s tax assessor determined that because the lot was not being used for religious purposes, it was not tax exempt, and the church was billed $1,600.

    In addition to covering the property tax bill, the city’s donation will also help defray maintenance and upkeep costs for the church ballpark. Church and community volunteers had been assisting with the efforts and will continue to do so.

    “It does need some work,” Merrimack Valley Little League president Eric Crane told the Concord Monitor. “Our plan has always been to revitalize and rebuild the church park.”

    Not all voters agreed that the donation was a grand slam, however. “My concern isn’t about the kids playing baseball. If you give money to one nonprofit, how do you deny others that come forward?” one resident asked.

  • Tech, Funding Drive High School Scoreboard Upgrades

    by November 2014

    Beyond the playing surface itself, sports fans' eyes are drawn most often to one must-have venue amenity: the scoreboard. For high school administrators committed to modernizing their facilities without the funding to do so, scoreboards are increasingly seen as a great place to start. "Budgets are tighter than they've ever been," says Mike Daniel, CEO for Murray, Ky.-based Sportable Scoreboards. "Athletics has such a broad footprint, as it draws in so many folks to the school, that athletic administrators have to come across as putting their best foot forward, and a scoreboard is a big part of that."

  • Multimedia Marketing Transforms High School Athletics

    by August 2014

    To say the business of high school sports marketing has evolved during Jack Roberts' tenure would be an understatement. Roberts, executive director of the Michigan High School Athletic Association, just completed his 28th year in that position. He fondly remembers when he started, a time before fax machines and a time when lengthy face-to-face meetings were all part of doing business.

  • Civic Group Ties Bucks Arena Support to Rec Upgrades

    by Michael Gaio April 2014

    The Milwaukee Bucks want a new arena to replace the BMO Harris Bradley Center. A Milwaukee community group known as "Common Ground" wants better public athletic facilities, playgrounds and recreational spaces. Together, they might both get what they're asking for.

  • Wisconsin Students OK Rec Facility Overhaul in Landslide

    by Michael Gaio March 2014

    A $223 million plan to upgrade the University of Wisconsin-Madison's lagging recreational sports facilities passed in a landslide student vote that ended Wednesday, the Wisconsin State Journal reports.

  • Crowdfunding Basics for Athletic & Recreation Organizations

    by Emily Attwood February 2014

    Last spring, the City of Philadelphia launched its first crowdfunding project, raising $2,000 to plant a community garden at one of the city’s recreation centers. 

    Over the summer, 474 donors contributed more than $15,000 to help purchase a new mascot costume as part of Michigan State University’s Extreme Makeover: Sparty Edition crowdfunding initiative. A more recent MSU campaign raised more than $5,000 to create a softball scholarship in memory of a university employee and passionate softball fan who had lost a battle with cancer. 

  • Video: Augie Nieto Prepares to Walk on IHRSA Stage

    by Michael Gaio February 2014

    They told him it would never happen. As the paralysis gripped Augie Nieto's body and the awful effects of ALS took away his ability to move, doctors told him he would never walk again.

    But Augie refused to listen.