Sudden Death; Storm Defense
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Sudden Death When a charter bus carrying the Bluffton (Ohio) University baseball team to a series of games in Florida plunged off an overpass near Atlanta just before dawn on March 2, it sent shockwaves nationwide. The bus driver, his wife and five students were killed. Dozens of others student-athletes were injured, some critically. The university's web site shut down in the aftermath, and school-sponsored spring break trips were cancelled. "This is a sad tragedy for the students, families, friends and Bluffton University campus community," university president James M. Harder stated on the school's makeshift homepage, which featured a file photo of the Bluffton baseball team kneeling on a field in prayer. "We are asking for prayers of support during this time."
AB examined how institutions deal with the sudden death of student-athletes in May 2002. An excerpt from "Mourning Practices" follows:
Dave Yukelson, one of only a handful of sports psychologists in the country employed full-time by a college athletic department, approached Penn State administrators in 1995 about putting in place a policy to manage death's aftereffects. Little did Yukelson know that his campus would be tested twice within the span of two weeks this past February. First, sophomore golfer Michael Carter was killed in a car accident Feb. 13, nine days shy of his 20th birthday. Sophomore pole-vaulter Kevin Dare died in competition 10 days later. The combination proved staggering. "If there was a beauty in all of this, it was to see our student-athletes reach out to one another," Yukelson says. "When the second death occurred, the golf team was already at a different stage of working through it. All of a sudden, they became peer helpers."To read the entire article, go to "Dealing and Wheeling" (August 2001), or search the AB article archive.
Storm Defense Last month, the Southeastern Conference fined Vanderbilt University $25,000 for allowing basketball fans to rush its home floor after the Commodores upset top-ranked Florida. It was the second time in three years that the SEC had punished Vanderbilt for a post-game rush. The school was fined $5,000 for its first offense - following a second-round victory over Wichita State in the 2005 National Invitation Tournament.
AB examined the perils of post-game court rushes last April. An excerpt from "Storm Fronts" follows:
How does one convince would-be court rushers to show restraint? Talk to them, says Nina Simmons, assistant director and events services manager of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte's Halton Arena/Barnhardt Student Activity Center. Simmons, who has written on the topic for the International Association of Assembly Managers, has seen several communication approaches prove effective. Some schools host preseason pizza parties, during which safety videos are shown. Others allow students early entry to the facility, then conduct pregame safety briefings.To view the entire article, search the article archive at athleticbusiness.com using the key words "storm fronts."
For her part, Simmons first reads signals that a court rush may be imminent - a bitter rival comes to town or particularly long lines form at the ticket office - and staffs up accordingly. Then Simmons gauges the vibe created by the game itself (nail-biters, not blowouts, represent greater potential powder kegs) and takes to the stands during late timeouts, reasoning with all students within earshot to exhibit patience and order during their descent to the floor. "We walk right in front of them and say, 'Listen, guys. Here's the rule. Here's the plan.' It works," Simmons says. "They're much more cooperative than they were before we started this. We try to speak to them like we would like to be spoken to."
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