Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Video Scoreboards: Dumb Idea That Won't Die

Daktronics Scoreboard
Who needs cheerleaders?

The RISD is preparing a bond package to place before voters in May. In early drafts of the package, $2 million was penciled in for new video scoreboards at the RISD's two football stadiums. That was reportedly whittled down to $400,000 by foregoing new video capabilities. In this time of state budget deficits threatening public school education, even that much is best deferred.

Even if I thought the RISD could afford them, video scoreboards are still a dumb idea, for reasons I explained a month ago. After the jump, the RISD refuses to let this dumb idea die.

According to the Lake Highlands Advocate:

"Parents of several student groups at Lake Highlands High received surveys this week, with questions about potential improvements to Wildcat Ram stadium and the venue's scoreboard. ... RISD lags behind several comparable suburban school districts, which have high-tech video scoreboards which show replays of athletic action and close-ups of kids performing in the band, drill team and cheer squad. These boards also earn funds for their districts when they run video commercials for everything from the neighborhood real estate agent to national fast food chains."

No. The RISD does not "lag" by not having video scoreboards. On the contrary, RISD is in the *lead* in keeping the emphasis on the kids instead of "commercials for everything from the neighborhood real estate agent to national fast food chains." The high school football experience is unlike the NFL or college. The band is not filler, readily replaced by video commercials for national fast food chains. Many of the fans in the stands are relatives and friends of band students. Some of them actually come to the game primarily to listen to the band. If you care about the kids, you would never think of installing something like video scoreboards.

Lake Highlands Advocate commenter "bballcap" argues that kids LOVE it when their faces are shown on those video scoreboards. Agreed, except it's unlikely that's how they'll be used. Don't believe me? Go to some of those other school districts' stadiums that already feature video scoreboards and see for yourself. There's money to be made in showing commercials, not in showing kids. Instead, what we'll get are video commercials for Walmart playing over the band. And animated cartoon prompts like "D-E-F-E-N-S-E" substituting for real, live cheerleading by students. Video scoreboards end up crowding out the kids, not featuring them.

Prove me wrong. If schools really, really insist on having video scoreboards, pledge never to play commercials while the band is playing, on the field or in the stands, just like you never see commercials played while the football players are running a play on the field. Any examples of this, anywhere?

I really want to support the upcoming RISD bond package, but if it includes video scoreboards, it will jeopardize my faith that the RISD is putting the kids first. Come on, RISD, let this dumb idea die.

1 comment:

Mark Steger said...

The opinions above are solely my own. In the end, I trust the RISD board of trustees will exercise good judgment and produce a bond package that I can enthusiastically support, even if it doesn't conform exactly to what I personally would include in it.