Feature Article - July 2010
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A Cut Above

Scoreboard Innovations Becoming More Visual, Motivational

By Deborah L. Vence

Wireless Scoring

Though it's not considered a new trend, wireless technology continues to be a hot product in scoreboards, having taken the industry by storm in recent years by enabling scorekeepers to change game scores from the palms of their hands, rather than having to hire someone to manually change the scoreboard during games.

"The bigger trend is that it's more reliable wireless without any glitches or problems. Especially in softball, you can have the umpire running the scoreboard. And, you're saving money. Most [recreation] complexes take up a four-field complex, and [the scoreboards] have to be run up top, and those people are usually paid," explained Jeff Reeser, national sales manager for a Des Moines, Iowa-based company that designs and manufactures scoreboards for schools, colleges and municipalities.

In fact, Reeser's firm took its next generation of wireless to the next level with the release of a new handheld remote control. Facilities can use the remote control device for baseball, football and basketball scoreboards. His firm recommends the handheld remote control for many types of facilities, including small recreational venues and large arenas. One control can operate up to eight scoreboards in the same facility.

"It needs to be very intuitive. We've been able to go to a smaller control package that allows us to go into [a handheld remote control] type product," Reeser said.

Meanwhile, Tom Coughlin, sales manager for the high school and parks and recreation market, and sports marketing division, for a Sioux Falls, S.D.-based scoreboard company, agreed that wireless is a prevalent feature that's being picked up on more at parks and recreation facilities.

"Particularly in some outdoor facilities and some indoor as well, it allows for the control and operation of the scoreboards from different vantage points," he said. "Like anything in technology, it's always improving. There always are some new features."

However, experts warned that wireless is not for everybody.

Chris Westerman, strategic product manager for a Sioux Falls, S.D.-based scoreboard company, said that while wireless is continuing to be more and more predominant in the market, he cautioned that there is the potential for interference from other electronic devices when using the technology.

"If you get to the high school level, we do see where they will put in wireless control, but as you get to the NCAA and NBA level—although they like the wireless option—they can't afford from a game-stoppage side of things, they can't afford the hiccups," he said.

Still, Westerman said he is confident that his company's wireless solution can combat some of the issues associated with wireless technology.

"Most of our options when choosing a scoreboard, any scoreboard could be wireless or wired, so we can run our scoreboard either way. When it comes down to choosing scoreboards, it comes down to the facility and what we need to display on the scoreboard," he added.