Feature Article - July 2008
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Know the Score

Scoreboard Options Run the Gamut

By Dawn Klingensmith

More Bang for the Buck

For athletic facilities where more than one sport is played, multiple scoreboards need not be purchased. Basic multipurpose scoreboards display time, score and period in a fixed-digit configuration. The Rolling Meadows Park District opted for this type of scoreboard for its football field and gymnasium because flexibility was a key criterion. Currently, football and basketball teams are the only ones using the outdoor and indoor scoreboards, respectively. "But we left it open-ended so if we needed or wanted to use the field for other sports, that would be an option for us," Ray said.

Teams that share a facility with a single multipurpose scoreboard need not settle for a fixed-digit model, provided they have an ample budget. LED full-matrix scoreboards, as well as front projection systems, have no fixed digits and therefore provide unlimited flexibility and universality. Although matrix scoreboard operators have the freedom to start out with what basically amounts to a blank canvas on which animation, graphics, advertising, and individual players' photos and stats can be displayed, most models come with preprogrammed shortcuts so switching from one sport to another is neither time-consuming nor complicated.

The Latest and Greatest

Drawing from its fund for emerging technology, Bishop Hartley High School in Columbus, Ohio, purchased a computer-operated projection system and takes full advantage of its versatility.

"The gymnasium system is so much more than a scoreboard," said Kenneth Collura, director of communications and instructional technologies for the Diocese of Columbus' Catholic school system, of which Bishop Hartley is a part. "I have the statistical sports package that provides game and player statistics, customizable scoreboards, and video input from external sources like cameras, television, DVD players and the like.

"Obviously, the sports features get the most attention. Having unique displays for basketball, volleyball and wrestling has been rewarding to parents and athletes. But because the gym space is used for non-athletic activities as well, the system has proved invaluable for graduation ceremony displays, assemblies, fundraising events such as bingo and auctions, and masses and liturgies. I use all the bells and whistles."

Collura said that according to his research, the cost of such systems ranges from $40,000 to $80,000. His is on the high end because of its audio system and other add-ons and accessories, and because, in the two years since its installation, he has opted to mount screens in each of the four corners of the gym. Systems like these transform facilities into multimedia venues in which movies and music videos can be played for parties and dances; pep rallies can be enhanced with audio and on-screen content; breaking news can be aired to assembled faculty and students with a TV tuner connection; distance learning opportunities can take place with the inclusion of conferencing equipment; and game footage can be reviewed right on the court instead of in the locker room.

More basic software-driven projection scoreboards are available at a significantly lower cost, making use of a laptop, a projector and flat-screen monitors to virtually replicate the appearance and function of a normal scoreboard, without extraneous graphics capabilities. Keystrokes and a mouse are used to update scores and other data. Some systems use touch pads instead.