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World Cup Stadium Collapses Killing at Least Three
Details are still emerging, but according to Reuters, a crane collapsed Wednesday morning at the construction site of a future World Cup soccer stadium in Sao Paulo, Brazil. The collapse killed at least three people and damaged the facility. According to Reuters, a spokeswoman for the Sao Paulo state military police confirmed the deaths.

Here are some pictures of the collapse making their way around Twitter right now: And here's a shot from the ground level:
Posted At 10:41 AM • Comments (0)

Half-Court Shot Nets NAIA Athlete $20K, Eligibility Woes
College basketball player Cameron Rodriguez made the biggest shot of his life last week, but it had nothing to do with his college team. Instead, when Rodriguez's half-court shot at the Oklahoma City Thunder's game against the Denver Nuggets found the bottom of the net, it earned him a $20,000 prize.

Rodriguez was clearly thrilled (who wouldn't be?) as he proceeded to tackle the Thunder's mascot in celebration. However, as the rapper Notrorious B.I.G. once said, "More money, more problems."

Since Rodriguez is a student-athlete at Southwestern College in Winfield, Kansas, he faces the possibility of losing his prize money. Southwestern College competes in the NAIA, and per NAIA rules student-athletes are not allowed to profit from their athletic ability.

"I didn't really think about it at first, because I was way too excited," Rodriguez told Bloomberg News. "After things settled down, I realized we might have an issue, because I was receiving a large amount of money."

According to Bloomberg:

 Rodriguez and his school are asking the NAIA for a rules exception that would allow him to use the money as a scholarship toward payment of his tuition. […]

The NAIA student guide says athletes cannot use their sports ability or fame for financial reward. John Leavens, the executive director of the NAIA Eligibility Center, said rulings on these cases typically take one to two weeks.

“It would certainly hurt his cause if he had tried to circumvent the rules,” Leavens said in a telephone interview. “The fact that he connected with the right officials to make sure that he understood the proper application of the rule is something that we expect, and we’re glad to see.”

By comparison, NCAA rules also say athletes can't profit from use of their athletic skills. However, exceptions are made for prizes from promotions where contestants are chosen at random, as was the case with Rodriguez.

Rodriguez says if he can't use the money he will have the bank that is awarding the prize money donate it to charity in his name.
Posted At 9:36 AM • Comments (2)

In Your Words: #ABCSanDiego Recap

A recap of the 32nd annual Athletic Business Conference & Expo as told by the people who experienced it.

Posted At 8:35 AM • Comments (1)

Man Saves Woman Who Jumped from Coliseum Deck
Yet another fall from the upper deck of a sports stadium has left two people hospitalized, but this case is different from others in that the falling individual was a woman and the fall appeared to be voluntary. Also unusual is the fact that the actions of another person apparently saved the woman’s life.

According to KTVU-TV, the woman, believed to be in her 20s, went into Section 301 of Oakland County Coliseum after Sunday’s Raiders game against the Tennessee Titans and jumped to a second-level concourse, where other fans pleaded with her not to do it. One such fan, a 61-year-old season-ticket holder and former Marine from Stockton, Calif., lunged to catch the woman, who fell 45 feet. He was knocked to the ground unconscious and taken to the hospital, where he is reportedly in stable condition. As of this writing, the woman remained in “very critical” condition.

“He saved her life quite honestly, at his own expense,” Sgt. J.D. Nelson of the Alameda County Sheriff’s Office told the Oakland Tribune. “This guy 100 percent saved her life. She'd be dead now.”

The seating in Section 301 of the Coliseum is covered by a tarp. It is unclear how the woman, who appeared to be alone, was allowed to enter a section supposedly closed to the public.
Posted At 9:15 AM • Comments (0)

ABC: Tour Showcases Two Distinct Rec Center Designs
Before a tour of Long Beach State’s three-year-old recreation center even began, associate director of recreation Sean Del Rossi alerted some 70 ABC attendees that they would later step into a “bizarro world” once the tour took them to the University of California-Irvine’s counterpart facility. In terms of programming layout, left would be right and vice versa.

But so much more differentiates the two facilities featured on Wednesday’s bus tour north from the Athletic Business Conference & Expo in San Diego. Long Beach’s center is almost clinical in appearance, with white walls accented with stark, larger-than-life graphics (a woman in a Yoga position, a basketball in the hands of a shooter) and abundant use of glass. A glass half-wall (resembling a hockey dasher treatment) separates the ground-floor fitness area from the multi-court gym space. A glass railing travels the circumference of the second-level jogging track, and heavy glass is found along the “most traveled hallway on campus” separating the gym from racquet courts and leading to a climbing wall toward the back of the building. There’s an unmistakable openness and energy about the building.

The feeling is quite different in Irvine, but no less welcoming. Earth tones dominate the entrance to UC-Irvine’s rec center, as does a lobby climbing wall (contrasting from the location of this amenity in Long Beach). Beige and burnished block walls and exposed hunter-green iron beams give the sensation of being in a modern ballpark concourse. An enormous outdoor pool deck featuring a barbeque and surrounded by lush foliage gives the impression of being at a high-end resort. A multi-activity court features the kind of soaring A-frame ceiling that one would expect to find in a retro basketball field house design. Jill Schindele, a 32-year veteran of the UC-Irvine rec department, introduced herself during lunch served in an expansive teaching kitchen, reflecting the university’s emphasis on wellness.

In the end, ABC tourists got a taste of two distinct approaches to rec center design. Neither bizarro, necessarily. Just different. And both impressive in their own way.

Posted At 9:24 AM • Comments (1)

Man Who Fell from 300 Deck in Buffalo Gets Stadium Ban
A fan who attempted to slide down the side railing of the 300 deck at Ralph Wilson Stadium in Buffalo, only to topple backwards and land on a fan in the 200 level, has fallen out of favor with the hometown Bills. As a result of his actions Sunday, the fan has been banned from the stadium.

As reported by the Associated Press, Bills president and chief executive Russ Brandon called the fallen fan’s behavior irresponsible and in violation of the fan code of conduct. “This individual will not be permitted back into Ralph Wilson Stadium,” Brandon said in a statement.

The fan fell 30 feet onto the neck and shoulders of a man seated in the level below. You can see the fall captured on video above. (Warning: Some may consider the footage to be graphic.) According to a witness, the falling man ultimately came to rest two rows lower than the individual he struck, got up and said he was okay. Security officials then kept him from leaving. Charges are possible.

Both men were treated onsite and taken to a hospital, where they received additional treatment before being released.

The Bills lease Ralph Wilson Stadium from Erie County. On Monday, county executive Poloncarz supported the team’s ban by stating the fan “has shown that he is a danger to himself and others.”

“Yesterday’s reckless and dangerous incident at Ralph Wilson Stadium is an example of the type of behavior that gives Buffalo a bad reputation and that can never be tolerated, dismissed or accepted,” Poloncarz said, according to the AP.

The Buffalo incident was yet another addition to a string of falls from upper decks in recent years. Causes have varied from medical episode to intoxication to suicide to pure accident. This latest one appears to fall under the category of sheer stupidity.
Posted At 8:45 AM • Comments (15)

On the Road to #ABCSanDiego

Like many college recreation professionals, staff members from the University of Missouri's rec department, MizzouRec traveled to the Athletic Business Conference & Expo in San Diego last week. However, unlike many college recreation professionals, MizzouRec's staff road-tripped more than 1,800 miles to get there.

Follow along as we posted daily updates from Diane Dahlmann, Carrie Steuber and Emily Bach as they documented their four day journey #ABCSanDiego and the excitement of the event once they arrived.
Day 6: Friday, November, 22, 2013
San Diego, CA

Friday was another exciting day for attendees at the Athletic Business Conference. While Thursday's keynote speaker, Dr. Ken Dychtwald's captivated everyone in attendance with his thoughts on the aging population and how it applies to fitness and recreation, Friday brought one of California's biggest celebrities, to the stage: Magic Johnson.

It was also an exciting day as Missouri's own Diane Dahlmann was a featured speaker in one of the seminars.

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Diane poses for a quick photo before giving her presentation titled: "Customized Member Services: Creating an Enterprise Zone in Your Facility."

Then it was on to the keynote speech by Magic Johnson. About 3,000 people filled the ballroom to hear him speak. Magic didn't just speak to the people in crowd, he interacted with them. He immediately left the stage and strolled down the aisles, frequently asking people to stand up asking them about themselves and taking photos with them... all while continuing his speech. It was truly impressive.

Diane was one of those lucky enough to be singled out by Magic. This picture was taken as Magic was in the middle of his keynote address.

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Magic poses for a photo in the midst of his keynote address.

Of course, the journey to San Diego wouldn't be complete unless everyone in the group got to meet Magic. After his speech, their wish came true as they posed with their "Road to ABC" banner.

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It was a great way to end a fantastic journey to the 2013 Athletic Business Conference and Expo.

Day 5: Thursday, November 21, 2013
San Diego, CA

Thursday marked the grand opening of the Athletic Business Conference trade show. With nearly 300 exhibitors and 600 booths, the trade show features products and services related to every aspect of athletics, fitness, recreation and wellness.  And yes, that even includes an HydraFacial who offered free facials on the trade show floor.

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Day 4: Wednesday, November 20, 2013
San Diego, CA

Day one at the Athletic Business Conference & Expo is always a fun one. The seminars, keynote and trade show don't begin until Thursday, but Wednesday features the ABC Golf Classic, hands-on workshops and facility tours.

ABC attendees and exhibitors hit the links at Coronado Municipal Golf Course.

This year, attendees had two different tour options to choose from. Our friends from Missouri chose the tour that visited the McGrath Family YMCA and the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

First up was the 35,000 square-foot YMCA which opened just three years ago, but has already expanded to serve more members. This facility has a state-of-the-art aquatic center as well as a softball facility and an indoor soccer arena.

The second stop was Olympic Training Center in Chula Vista. The OTC provides everything athletes need to train including food services, sports medicine, biomechanics, strength and conditioning and more. The facility features facilities for archery, BMX, field hockey, rowing, rugby, and track and field.

"The Olympic Center was an amazing experience,"
Bach said. "We got to meet members of the rugby team hopefuls." Rugby will be a new addition to the next summer Olympics.
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Emily and Carrie outside the U.S. Olympic Training Center.

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The track and field facility and the BMX training course at the OTC.

The Athletic Business Conference tours are not only a chance to sight see, but for facility managers and operators, they can serve as a valuable learning tool. You never know what great idea might be sparked by something seen at another facility. As one attendee put it, "Facility tours are the best part of the whole conference. I can get many ideas from a couple hours in a great facility."

With the business portion of the day in the books, Emily, Carrie and Diane set out for a little fun. Of course no trip to San Diego is complete without visiting the beautiful and historic Hotel del Coronado on Coronado Island.

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Day 3: Tuesday, November 19, 2013
Sedona, AZ — San Diego, CA
Miles Logged: 463

01 Sedona.jpg7:00 am: The crew from the University of Missouri awoke and once again hit the road bright and early, but not before capturing the sunrise in beautiful Sedona.

Day three turned out to be the shortest leg of the trip, "only" 463 miles. However, it was filled with plenty of action. Diane, Carrie and Emily encountered everything from prisons to aliens.

The first stop of the day came nearly 300 miles after leaving Sedona when the MizzouRec staff stopped at the historic Yuma Territorial Prison. From 1876 until 1909, the prison held more than 3,000 prisoners. In pop culture the prison was made famous the by the western movie, 3:10 to Yuma.


Just beyond Yuma, the group stopped for a picture at the Mexican border.


After the stop at the border is where things started to get weird. As anyone who has taken a road trip knows, you never know just what you're going to see along the way. In the case of our friends from Mizzou, they ran into what appears to be aliens in the California desert!

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And if you look closely in the window of this RV, you can see for yourself.
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Fortunately, these aliens were friendly and the Mizzou crew was on their way to San Diego in no time. Around 4:00 pm, they officially arrived, marking the end of a 1,722 mile journey. Today, they're attending the Athletic Business Conference facility tours of the McGrath Family YMCA and the Olympic Training Center.

They'll check in with another update tomorrow. As always, stay tuned for what's next!



Day 2: Monday, November 18, 2013
Tucumcari, NM — Sedona, AZ
Miles Logged: 523

6:00 am:
Monday morning our friends from MizzouRec were once again on the road bright and early. They hit the road and continued their way west. After a stop at the historic El Rancho hotel in Gallup, NM which was once a swanky hotel for movie stars shooting westerns, the crew continued west to the Painted Desert/Petrified Forest National Park in eastern Arizona where they snapped this beautiful photo.

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Painted Desert

About 50 minutes later came the next stop at the Wigwam Motel in Holbrook, AZ. It's safe to say attendees at this year's Athletic Business Conference & Expo won't be staying in anything that looks like this:

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Wigwam Motel

Today's journey was "only" 523 miles. Before reaching the day's final destination of Sedona, the group from Missouri stopped in Winslow, AZ., an old town on the original Route 66. Winslow achieved national fame in 1972 thanks to the Eagles' song "Take it Easy" which has the line "standing on a corner in Winslow, Arizona," which of course provided another photo op.

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"Standin' on the corner in Winslow, Arizona.

As for what's next? You'll have to check back tomorrow for the latest adventures on the road to #ABCSanDiego...



Day 1: Sunday, November 17, 2013
Columbia, MO — Tucumcari, NM
Miles Logged: 736

5:00 am: The staff departs the University of Missouri's Recreation Complex and heads southwest toward Joplin, Mo. After about a four hour drive in the white Chevy Suburban they lovingly refer to as the "white shark," they arrived.

MizzouRec staff memebers stop for a picture with their custom ABC banner outside the Bonnie and Clyde hideout house in Joplin.

Next up, the white shark made it's way toward Oklahoma City. Just outside of OKC is the famous Route 66 restaurant, POPS in Arcadia, Ok.


From there, the crew followed Route 66 heading west as they crossed Oklahoma and into the northern tip of Texas. The next stop was the famous Cadillac Ranch in Potter, Texas. Cadillac ranch is a public art sculpture  made entirely of used Cadillacs. It's also the name of a 1980 Bruce Springsteen song.

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The MizzouRec staff arrived at Cadillac Ranch around sunset.

After taking in the sights at Cadillac Ranch, the crew hopped back in their Chevy and traveled into New Mexico where they called it quits in Tucumcari, NM. Day one of the journey lasted approximately 14 hours and covered more than 800 miles!

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As for what's next? You'll have to check back tomorrow for the latest adventures on the road to #ABCSanDiego...

Posted At 9:01 AM • Comments (2)

Judge: University Must Give Coach Termination Report
A judge ruled earlier today that Oakland University must provide former women’s basketball coach Beckie Francis with a nearly unredacted copy of an investigative report that led to her June 12 firing.

According to the Detroit Free Press, the university had previously provided Francis with a copy of the report, but much of it was blacked out. Oakland County Judge Martha Anderson ruled that the report is part of Francis’ personnel record and ordered the university to turn it over. She added that university officials could black out names of students interviewed for the report, certain sections protected by attorney/client priviledge and some sections relating to people other than Francis.

It is believed that Francis will use the report to decide whether to sue Oakland University for wrongful termination.

Francis was fired the day her husband, then-university president Gary Russi, suddenly retired. No public explanation was given at the time for her dismissal. A Free Press investigation that included interviews with 15 former players uncovered allegations that Francis was mentally and emotionally abusive, and obsessed with players’ eating habits and body fat. The university also claims that Francis ignored orders to separate her religion from her coaching.
Posted At 10:25 AM • Comments (0)

Youth Football Participation Dropping Drastically
You don't have to be a football fan to know that concussions have been in the news a lot lately. And if you're an AB reader, you know head injuries are unfortunately a topic we have to cover way too often. Just this week we've reported deaths of two youth football players who died following head injuries.

Participation in youth football is on the decline.

Naturally, parents are concerned. So it probably doesn't come as a big surprise that participation in youth football is declining.

According to ESPN's "Outside the Lines," Pop Warner, the nation's largest youth football program saw participation drop by 9.5 percent between 2010-12. From ESPN:

Pop Warner lost 23,612 players, thought to be the largest two-year decline since the organization began keeping statistics decades ago. Consistent annual growth led to a record 248,899 players participating in Pop Warner in 2010; that figure fell to 225,287 by the 2012 season.

Pop Warner officials said they believe several factors played a role in the decline, including the trend of youngsters focusing on one sport. But the organization's chief medical officer, Dr. Julian Bailes, cited concerns about head injuries as "the No. 1 cause."

Meanwhile, USA Football, a national governing body which is partially funded by the NFL, saw participation among players ages 6 to 14 fell from 3 million to 2.8 million in 2011, a 6.7 percent decline.

In 2012, Pop Warner took measures to increase safety. The organization cut back on the amount of tackling permitted during practice. This year, the organization teamed up with the NFL to endorse "Heads Up" football, designed to teach proper tackling technique and minimize head contact. Pop Warner is expected to introduce even more rule changes in the near future.
Posted At 9:48 AM • Comments (5)

Football Coach Arrested for Vandalizing Own School
An assistant high school football coach’s apparent ploy to fire up players before a big game resulted in his arrest Wednesday for vandalizing school property.

The game was played Nov. 1, and Michael Schmitt’s Marion County team defeated South Pittsburg, 35-17, in the latest chapter of one of Tennessee’s oldest prep rivalries (a mere eight miles separate the two schools). That morning, students arrived on the Marion County High campus to find vulgarities spray-painted on its field house, a storage building and a parking lot in orange and black — South Pittsburg’s school colors. South Pittsburg’s “P” logo and derogatory names referencing Marion County players and coaches were included in the damage, estimated to cost several thousand dollars. In addition, trash was scattered around the field house.

It would appear at first glance to be the work of South Pittsburg supporters, but a joint investigation conducted by Jasper police and the Marion County Sheriff’s Department found enough evidence to arrest Schmitt, a Marion County teacher who had also been hired to coach the school’s baseball team.

“It is sad to say that this event gives the whole community a black eye and the real victims of this incident are the kids from both schools,” said Marion County Sheriff's Detective Matt Blansett, as reported by the Chattanooga Times Free Press.
Posted At 9:44 AM • Comments (1)

Gymnasts Risk Greater Exposure to Chemical Hazards
A study conducted by the Boston University School of Public Health has found that competitive gymnasts face greater exposure to flame-retardant chemicals used to treat polyurethane foam in gym equipment. The chemical, known at PentaBDE, is known to affect brain development in children and fertility in women, as well as cause changes in thyroid hormones. It was phased out of production nearly a decade ago, says the research team, but older equipment treated with the chemical is still in use.

Published in the journal Environmental Science and Technology, the study analyzed a group of collegiate gymnasts and collected hand-wipe and blood samples before and after practice. They also measured concentrations of chemicals in the landing mats, pit cubes and other equipment from the practice gym and a second gym, as well as collected samples of dust. The concentration of PentaBDE in the gymnasts’ blood was four to 6.5 times higher in the gymnasts than the level typically found in the general population, and two to three times higher after practice than before, suggesting that significant amounts of the chemical were being ingested during practice.

The team noted a variety of factors that could affect a gymnasts’ exposure, including types and duration of training activities, and that further research with a larger sample size should be undertaken to further identify exposure risks and develop recommendations for reducing exposure. For now, the researchers recommend hand washing after practice and before eating to reduce the risk of ingesting flame-retardant chemicals.

Posted At 9:32 AM • Comments (0)

Following Ant Attack Death, School District Invests in New Safety Plans
Back in September, we brought you the tragic story of Cameron Espinosa. Espinosa, a thirteen-year-old youth football player from Corpus Christi, Texas died after suffering a severe allergic reaction to bites from fire ants that were present on his team's football field.

In the comments section of that story, readers wondered how such a sad incident could have been prevented. Espinosa's mother even said something as simple as an EpiPen could have saved her son's life.

The Corpus Christi Independent School District has responded by taking action. According to Kiii News, the Corpus Christi ISD will spend nearly $100,000 to implement new procedures following Espinosa's death.

The district will move all middle school games to local stadiums or high school fields, away from the middle school field that was covered with ants where Espinosa was attacked. Money will also go toward transportation, EMT coverage, game workers, police and custodial staff.

But perhaps the biggest change (and one of the biggest expenses) is the district's decision to stock all 59 schools in the district with epinephrine injector pens, or EpiPens. That could cost as much as $17,000.

"There are only four districts in the state of Texas that have undesignated EpiPens, so it is a fairly new practice," CCISD director of communications Lorette Williams told Kiii News. "We are going to spend a lot of time researching it, making sure that our policy and procedures are correct. Making sure that those that need to be trained are trained. And we will be spending much of spring and summer getting all of those items lined up so when it comes to the new school year, we will be prepared."

Posted At 9:30 AM • Comments (1)

Stretch Out and Win at #ABCSanDiego
With nearly 300 exhibitors from around the athletic, fitness and recreation industries and nearly 600 booths on display at next week's Athletic Business Conference & Expo, there will be plenty to see. But stretch those legs and be sure you stop by the Athletic Business booth (#2048) and the Precor booth (#1400) for a chance to win one of two 240i StretchTrainers.

Flexibility and a strong core are vital to personal fitness, but can often be overlooked. The 240i StretchTrainer helps to strengthen key muscle groups while increasing range of motion and decreasing risk of activity-based injuries.

240i_stretch_trainer_1.jpgTo promote the importance of flexibility and core strength, AB and Precor have teamed up to give away a pair of StretchTrainers at this year's show.

For a chance to win, follow these steps to be entered into our contest.

Option #1 - Facebook

1. Check-in at the Athletic Business Conference & Expo.
     - Click "Check-In" at the top of the news feed and search for the event.
2. Take a photo of yourself with the StretchTrainers that will be located at both booths
     - Athletic Business booth #2048
     - Precor booth #1400
3. Include the hashtags #ABCSanDiego and #StretchatABC
4. Post your photos to the pages for the Athletic Business Conference & Expo page.

Option #2 - Twitter

1. Stop by the Athletic Business booth or Precor booth
2. Take a photo of yourself with the StretchTrainer
3. Post your photo to Twitter and include the hashtags #ABCSanDiego and #StretchatABC

At the end of the show, AB and Precor will select two lucky winners who will receive their very own StretchTrainers. If you didn't get selected as a grand prize winner, don't worry, there are also a limited number of secondary prizes too.

Join the ABC conversation!

- Follow the Athletic Business Conference & Expo on Twitter, @ABCandExpo
- Follow Precor on Twitter, @Precor

Use our designated hashtags and share your experiences with us. We'll see you in San Diego!

View the entire trade show floor plan on our interactive map.
Posted At 8:47 AM • Comments (0)

2013 Excellence in Youth Sports Award Winner: Tinker (Okla.) Youth Programs
The youth sports offerings at Tinker Air Force Base in Oklahoma are based on a simple yet powerful phrase: leave no child out.

These words are the basis of the decisions made and activities offered to the nearly 800 children enrolled in Tinker Youth Programs. From the youngest participants of youth sports, to the child “veteran” who may have a few seasons under their belt, and even the adults that want to be a part of the community’s youth sports scene, there’s an opportunity for everyone.

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“Our programs are designed to ensure that each and every child has a program to participate in regardless of age or skill level,” says Jason Blackwell, sports director for Tinker Youth Programs. “Our program provides a wide range of diverse sports and fitness opportunities for youth ages 3-18 by helping them to develop life-long physical fitness skills and to mature emotionally and socially. We offer every youth a safe, clean and healthy environment that encourages not only winning, but also to instill the values of fair play and sportsmanship.”

Through coach training, even volunteer coaches get a solid start in their involvement in youth sports. Each coach goes through training by the National Youth Sports Coaches Association (NYSCA), an education program of the National Alliance for Youth Sports.

tinker 1.jpgThe staff at Tinker Youth Programs has found that more mothers than ever are stepping up to take the reins as volunteer coaches. “We are breaking down gender barriers and biases by changing the norm of who can coach certain sports,” says Blackwell. “By providing an equal balance between male and female coaches, we found it amazing how many mothers stepped up and wanted to coach once they realized that there weren’t restrictions to coaching sports.”

Blackwell thinks that NYSCA training helped encourage more mothers to volunteer as coaches. He says moms buy in to the NYSCA message of creating fun and safe youth sports environments and promoting inclusion of all children of any age and skill level into sports. “The mothers of our youth program now believe it’s part of their responsibility to teach the importance of safety, the fundamentals of the game and sportsmanship to all children,” he says. “We feel it’s important for our youth to see their mothers in roles that promote fitness, sportsmanship and healthy lifestyles.”

Tinker Youth Programs realizes that not all children want to compete on a team, but that doesn’t mean they can’t receive the same benefits as those on traditional sports teams. “We cornered the market on traditional sports,” says Blackwell. “So we challenged ourselves to think outside the box and tap into non-traditional activities to reach youth that are more interested in personal challenges and goal setting versus team competition.”

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The program worked with local businesses to develop the Off the Fields camp, which offers an adventure-based recreational experience to children each summer. The kids learn kayaking skills like how to control their kayak in different currents and how to paddle stroke, as well as boat and water safety; rock climbing basics and how to safely climb with a partner; they also take part in a ropes course, an activity commonly used to build the values of teamwork, communication and trust. “We’ve been offering this camp for three years now and its popularity continues to grow,” Blackwell says. The last offering saw more than 160 youngsters participate.
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Another unique and popular activity offered at Tinker Youth Programs is Fit Fridays. Every Friday after school, children head to the base youth center for a variety of physical fitness challenges, games and other activities that help them move and learn about their bodies in a fun, positive way. “This activity became extremely popular with the youth, and it’s a challenge for the staff to create new, fun and exciting activities each week,” Blackwell says. “The youth look forward to the fitness activities, interacting with the staff and learning about the components of physical fitness.”

Even more than teaching children how to make fitness an ongoing part of a healthy lifestyle, the activities at Tinker Youth Programs offer consistency for the children in a military family. “Military families are known for their resiliency due to the constant challenges they face and youth sports provides a positive distraction for youth when families are facing deployments and separations for each other,” says Blackwell.

The friendships developed during Fit Friday activities or the other activities offered by Tinker Youth Programs, like games, practices and picnics, give members of the community – all going through, or having had experienced, similar situations – an opportunity to spend quality time together. 

Story written by Linda Alberts, public relations coordinator for the National Alliance for Youth Sports. 

The five winners of the 2013 Excellence in Youth Sports Awards, sponsored by the National Alliance for Youth Sports and Athletic Business magazine, are being announced in this space over the next five days. The awards will be presented to program administrators at the Athletic Business Conference & Expo in San Diego on Friday, Nov. 22.

Posted At 7:56 AM • Comments (0)

Missouri Prep Football Player Dies from Head Injury
The Associated Press is reporting that a Missouri high school football player died Thursday after being hospitalized with a brain injury during his team's playoff football game in October.

Chad Stover, a junior at Tipton High School, was hospitalized on October 31 with an undisclosed injury that was described as "very serious." Stover was taken off the field and transported by ambulance to a hospital in nearby Columbia, according to Scott Jarvis, the Tipton superintendent.

Officials have not said how exactly Stover was injured.

The death has shaken up the small town of Tipton, with a population of about 3,000 people.  From the AP:

Stover was a very popular, intelligent student, and the Stovers are active members of the Tipton school community, Jarvis said last week.

"If you wanted to pick a kid to be your son, that'd be the one you'd pick," Jarvis said.

The Missouri State High School Activities Association is reviewing how Stover was injured and how school officials dealt with the injury. An MSHSAA spokesman told the AP that preliminary information indicates the school did follow its action plan.

This is the second high school football player to die as a result of head injury this week.

Update: According to Mid-Missouri's CBS affiliate, "A source close to the situation told KRCG 13 that Chad had an undiagnosed preexisting medical condition, which may have been triggered by his participation in a contact sport."

Posted At 3:31 PM • Comments (11)

High School's 'Arab' Mascot Called Into Question
When it comes to nickname and mascot controversy, typically Native Americans and teams like the Indians and Redskins come to mind. But a Southern California high school's longstanding Arab mascot is at the center of its own controversy.

Coachella Valley High School's Arab mascot. Photo: AP

The Coachella Valley High School Arabs have held their name since the 1920s. According to the Associated Press, the name "was chosen to recognize the area's reliance on date farming, traditionally a Middle Eastern crop."

The mascot, which at one point was a turban-wearing horseman, has evolved over the years and is now a standing figure wearing robes and a headscarf.

Calls for a change of the nickname originally came from the American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee. In an open letter, the group said the Arab nickname "perpetuates demeaning stereotypes" and "cannot be tolerated."

The letter also raised concerns about "a female dressed as a belly dancer [who] entertains the mascot by dancing for him" at halftime of sporting events.

Now the Coachella Valley Unified School Board is feeling the heat. The board originally planned to discuss the issue at its regularly scheduled meeting on Nov. 21, but instead will hold a special meeting Friday.

"A mascot chosen to show reverence and honor for the customs of prideful Middle Eastern peoples throughout our region now provokes negative feelings, and this must be addressed," school superintendent Darryl Adams told The Desert Sun in a letter.

According to NPR, the district has a student body that is 99 percent latino.

“It’s not so much the name but the depiction of the mascot,” Adams told CNN. “I’m from Memphis, Tennessee, so I understand how people can look at different symbols and caricatures. I look at it as an educational opportunity for our students and staff to discuss it. Things evolve over time, and it’s the 21st Century and it’s 2013, and this group feels we need to look at it and we will.”
Posted At 9:41 AM • Comments (10)

2013 Excellence in Youth Sports Award Winner: Mecklenburg (N.C.) County Park and Recreation
Mecklenburg (N.C.) County Park and Recreation takes a holistic approach to youth sports, using the power of sports as a vehicle to teach their participants life skills. Rather than just providing leagues for children, the department’s programming focuses on character building, fitness, nutrition and health to help develop the whole child.

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“As youth sports administrators, we shoulder the responsibility of educating the parents and youth of our community not only about the sports, but also about the individual elements that enable them to reap the full benefits of our youth sports program experience,” says Bryan Joyner, recreation coordinator/supervisor of youth sports development for Mecklenburg County Park and Recreation.

Childhood should be a carefree period in life, but it can also be a time when issues like bullying and low self-esteem hit hardest. Add to that today’s social and health concerns caused by childhood obesity.

“We have to show them the connections between having a healthy diet, leading an active lifestyle, feeling good, having a positive attitude, sportsmanship and self-esteem – and then tie these things into our program implementation,” says Joyner. “It’s imperative that we approach youth sports with a very broad methodology and provide parents with information and resources to reinforce this holistic approach at home.”

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The recreation staff and volunteer coaches understand that they are able to have a positive influence on the youngsters in the program. “We are in a unique position of having their attention and respect as role models. That is something their parents and teachers may have to work a little harder for,” says Joyner. “Many of our volunteer coaches work with the parents to establish academic standards and goals, as well as emphasize the importance of character traits like courage, respect, responsibility, discipline, leadership and commitment. The overall goal is to give the children something they can take with them when they leave the field and lead their everyday lives.”

Sportsmanship is embedded into Mecklenburg County’s youth sports philosophy and is a key life skill promoted to participants through various means, such as the parent and coach code of ethics signs prominently displayed at every sports field in the county and, perhaps most important, the expectations placed on volunteer coaches and sports parents during games and practices. Says Joyner, “We believe that educating the individuals who are hands on with the kids is the biggest way to promote sportsmanship.”

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In order to reach as many children as possible, Mecklenburg County partners with local organizations to offer non-team sports, in addition to traditional sports like baseball, basketball, soccer and flag football. These partnerships help it to reach an additional 3,000 participants who are interested in non-team sports like boxing, golf, tennis lessons, track and field and cross-country training. Like Mecklenburg County, these organizations place emphasis on the whole child, focusing on character development and academic progress while learning sports skills and long-term healthy habits through fun, safe sport participation.

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For example, a partnership with the Charlotte Boxing Academy, a nonprofit organization, provides young men and women the opportunity to learn amateur boxing in a safe environment. The Academy works with at-risk youth and closely monitor the academics and behavior of their participants. Another organization, Cross-Country for Youth, pairs an introduction to cross-country training with character building concepts for overall development. “These organizations provide specific expertise and unique skill sets that we may not have been able to provide alone,” says Joyner. “With these partnerships, we are able to diversify our opportunities for the youth of Mecklenburg County.”

Mecklenburg collaborated with like-minded organizations to create one of the first youth disc golf leagues in the country. Disc golf leagues, historically, have been organized for adults; however, when the recreation staff at Mecklenburg started to notice more and more children coming out to the course to play they realized an opportunity to continue meeting the community’s needs. “Part of our departmental strategic planning goals include increasing program opportunities for youth and teens, increasing lifetime sports opportunities and programming in natural areas,” explained Joyner. “We saw the need for a youth disc golf league, and it fit perfectly with our goals.”  

The department teamed up with the Charlotte Disc Golf Club, one of the largest clubs in the country, and Innova Disc Golf, a manufacturer of disc golf equipment, to begin the initial planning of a youth disc golf league. “We had a supportive group of people who were passionate about growing the sport and educating youth. From there, everything just fell into place,” Joyner says.

The first season of youth disc golf at Mecklenburg County was offered in the spring of this year and had 33 participants between the ages of 6-18. The program has received nothing but positive feedback from parents and children and will offer the sport again next year. “They appreciate that we have recognized that not every kid plays traditional sports,” Joyner says. “Non-traditional sports are growing and evolving at an enormous rate and we have to be willing to embrace them as youth sports administrators.”

Story written by Linda Alberts, public relations coordinator for the National Alliance for Youth Sports. 

The five winners of the 2013 Excellence in Youth Sports Awards, sponsored by the National Alliance for Youth Sports and Athletic Business magazine, are being announced in this space over the next five days. The awards will be presented to program administrators at the Athletic Business Conference & Expo in San Diego on Friday, Nov. 22.

Posted At 8:33 AM • Comments (1)

High School Football Player Dies from Head Injury

A high school football in player in Arizona died Monday after suffering a head injury in the fourth quarter of his team's playoff game. This serves as yet another tragic reminder of the dangers of serious head injuries.

According to the Associated Press, Hopi High School senior Charles Youvella died of a traumatic brain injury. He was injured in his team's 60-6 playoff loss on Saturday. Youvella scored his team's only touchdown.

From the AP story:
The death comes at a time when head injuries in football are attracting attention at all levels of the sport.

The Institute of Medicine and National Research Council two weeks ago called for a national system to track sports-related concussions and answer questions about youth concussions.

The report said 250,000 people age 19 and younger were treated in emergency rooms for concussions and other sports- or recreation-related brain injuries in the country in 2009. That was an increase from 150,000 in 2001.

The Arizona Interscholastic Association says an account will be established to help defray costs for the Youvella family.

Player safety is a topic we've covered extensively at AB, but this unfortunately serves as another reminder that no matter how many new policies are implemented, legislation is passed, or new technology is introduced, freak accidents can still occur.
Posted At 10:10 AM • Comments (17)

Florida HS Transfer Eligibility Lawsuit Spurs Agreement
A football player who last week sued his school district over a year-old transfer policy will drop his suit in exchange for playing eligibility.

The agreement allowing 18-year-old Justin Fragnito to play for Sickles High School was reached during a closed-door executive session of the school board last night, according to The Tampa Tribune.

“They’re very appreciative, very thankful to the school board,” said Peter Hobson, the attorney representing the Fragnito family. Hobson had argued that the district policy contradicts Florida state law by not allowing Fragnito to play. As of this writing, the agreement is still pending Florida High School Athletics Association notification and official school board approval. The school board meets again on Tuesday. The football playoffs begin Friday.

“We’re of the opinion that when a student transfers from one high school to another and the school board approves that student to enroll in that school, he or she is eligible to participate in athletic events that year, the first day of school,” Hobson said. “The school board thinks that because FHSAA says if you want to be more strict, you can. You can’t be more strict to deny someone a state right.”

More from the Tribune:

Fragnito transferred to Sickles from Jesuit High School in the spring semester of last school year. He had not participated in school sports at Jesuit since his freshman year.

He has been attending practices with the Sickles football team, according to the lawsuit, filed last week in Hillsborough County Circuit Court. Fragnito lives in the correct zone to attend Sickles.

The school district in fall 2012 enacted its new athletic transfer policy, which states any student who transfers to a high school other than their designated zoned school and who intends to participate in sports will be barred from athletics there for one calendar year.

Everyone who transfers to another high school, whether it be by moving or school choice, is ineligible to play sports unless cleared during an appeal by the Transferring Student-Athletes Participation Committee.

The policy was enacted the year after Armwood High School was stripped of its state football title and 26 victories dating back to 2010 and fined thousands of dollars, the result of a Florida High School Athletics Association ruling that parents of five football players falsified addresses to enroll at the school.

The district's policy is stricter than the rules set by the FHSAA, which state that students who transfer to a new school are eligible to play sports if they have been enrolled there since the beginning of the current school year.
The FHSAA says its rules are meant to be a baseline and that individual school districts can adopt stricter rules.

Posted At 9:50 AM • Comments (0)

2013 Excellence in Youth Sports Award Winner: Glynn County (Ga.) Recreation and Parks Department
It has been a busy couple of years for the Glynn County (Ga.) Recreation and Parks Department. Since winning the Excellence in Youth Sports Award in 2010, the department has continued to build upon its child-focused programming and offer superior service to its citizens, which enabled it to earn the prestigious award again this year.

“When we won the award in 2010, we realized that what we were doing was good and a move in the right direction,” says Steve Mellinger, program manager of the athletics division, construction and special projects at the Glynn County Recreation and Parks Department. “It also showed us that we can do more.”

glynn 1.jpgAnd they have. In late 2011, the commissioners of the City of Brunswick voted in favor of handing its city park facility and athletic programs to Glynn County. They inherited parents, volunteer coaches and children that were used to a different set of policies and procedures. “Educating the new coaches and parents was the biggest challenge, as was all the other coaching requirements we have, such as background checks and following the standards and guidelines of our structured programs,” Mellinger says.

At Glynn County, coaching youth sports is viewed as a privilege, not a right – and to be eligible for this privilege, certain requirements have to be met. For example, each head coach is required to attend a National Youth Sports Coaches Association (NYSCA) clinic.

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With the influx of more participants, cross-training among recreation staff is emphasized. “Staff members are cross-trained now more than ever. This way we do not miss a beat when someone is out,” says Mellinger. “When you are expected to perform at the top each and every day, you must be able to adjust when someone is out in order to maintain the level of excellence that we expect and require.”

Sports are the outdoor classroom of life, and Glynn County uses the slogan “No child left behind” to make sure every youngster has the chance to play sports. Since the fee for the city’s sports program was less than the county’s, the city agreed to sponsor each child for the difference between the costs.

For children outside of the city boundaries who also have a need for financial assistance, Glynn County will find local businesses and individuals who are willing to sponsor a child in need. They also allow parents to make payments rather than come up with the total fee at the time of registration.

Glynn County’s recreational facilities host 50-60 weekend travel tournaments throughout the year. These tournaments are put on by outside sports organizations; however, it’s still important to Glynn County to make sure the coaches, players and spectators affiliated with these organizations honor Glynn County’s youth sports philosophy. To do so, select Glynn County recreation staff members serve as directors within these outside sports organizations. “To maintain control of our facilities and the fans and teams, we place key staff members in charge of bringing tournaments to the community,” Mellinger says. “This helps us to continue to perform to our standards, policies and procedures and ensures that we can hold everyone accountable for their actions.”

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No different than their own department-run programs, unsportsmanlike conduct at tournaments is not tolerated. And if poor behavior is displayed, Mellinger says it’s important to address it immediately. “If someone is allowed to badger a player, coach or officials and no one says a thing until it gets out of hand, then you have now become a part of the problem,” he says. “For me personally, if parents or coaches release their anger or frustration out in front of the kids, they are removed immediately. If it comes from a parent then we talk to the coaches and let them know that their parents are their problem, too, and if they can’t calm them down, the team will either forfeit or be removed.”

To Mellinger, maintaining control of their facilities during tournaments and making their expectations known to the outside sports organizations is a win for everybody. “Glynn County wins by bringing in additional revenue to the county, providing an economic boost to the community. The teams and players win because they have a great time, and the organization wins by providing a top-notch tournament that was safe and fun for the kids, fans and parents,” he explains. “This brings the teams, parents and fans back time after time.”

The recreation staff at Glynn County offers volunteer coaches plenty of feedback on how their coaching skills measure up. They send parents coach evaluation requests two to three times during the season to find out how the coaches are doing. Glynn County uses the Rate Your Coach online coach evaluation system, offered by the National Alliance for Youth Sports.

glynn 4.jpgSince parent evaluations are anonymous to the coaches, parents can provide honest feedback without fear of backlash or repercussion. The coaches can access the evaluations, but will only see an overview of the feedback. At the end of each sport season, recreation staff evaluates each volunteer coach’s performance for the season and completes a final evaluation of each coach. This evaluation, along with the online evaluations by parents, is taken into consideration to determine whether the coach is invited to coach future seasons in their program. Since parent evaluations are requested throughout the season, the recreation staff can follow the coach’s progress and pick up on problems before they get out of hand.

“You simply cannot put a price on a child having a good time while participating in our programs,” Mellinger says. “We follow up on 100 percent of the complaints that are made – no matter how trivial they may seem. We have found that it’s better to learn at an early point in the season about a child not having a good experience. It gives us and their coach a chance to correct it. If we only did evaluations at the end of the season, we would not be able to adjust for the sake of the child.”

Story written by Linda Alberts, public relations coordinator for the National Alliance for Youth Sports. 

The five winners of the 2013 Excellence in Youth Sports Awards, sponsored by the National Alliance for Youth Sports and Athletic Business magazine, are being announced in this space over the next five days. The awards will be presented to program administrators at the Athletic Business Conference & Expo in San Diego on Friday, Nov. 22.

Posted At 7:39 AM • Comments (0)

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