New Scoreboard Stirs Discussion

Jack Nelson, Staff Writer

 The grand opening of Scituate High School’s new turf field for the Thanksgiving football game was a smashing success, thanks to a huge turnout at the game and a big Sailors win.  SHS students had been dealing with recurring parking problems and unappealing scenery for months leading up to the ceremony, but their suffering was rewarded. Fans of the memorable experience will be fascinated to know that even more is in the works to enhance the already impressive venue.  A proposal has been made by Athletic Director Peter Umbrianna and former Athletic Director Bill Luette that, if approved, will give the Sailors one of the premiere sports facilities on the South Shore: the installment of a new video scoreboard.

With Scituate High School’s immediate competitors moving fast for state-of-the-art features and the ongoing status of sports-related construction at SHS, Umbrianna and Luette feel that the time is now to revolutionize.  The benefits range from spectator to student body to community engagement and begin with the dynamic abilities of the video scoreboard. It could be used as a platform for sport-specific templates, school presentations, ceremony enhancement, and promotion of school-wide messaging. 

One of the overarching goals is to increase student inclusiveness by offering TV production work studies and classes to those who don’t participate in sports. Umbrianna is particularly enthusiastic about this, saying, “For a kid that might not be interested in participating in sports but wants a career in production, they’re already ten steps ahead because everyone uses Daktronics.  To be able to put that on their resume or college application, and break down every little thing they’ve done using Daktronics, it’s huge.”  

In the event that the video scoreboard comes to fruition, the school would also earn profit from the revenue-generating equipment and hopefully attract various league All-Star games/MIAA events.

Logistically, this would be a 32-foot long video panel placed in the middle section of the pre-existing scoreboard.  The panels displaying the score and timeouts would remain. Come game time, the video scoreboard could feature live game feed, on-field interviews, highlight reels, and replays.  It would be operated wirelessly by sending video files from a phone or streaming footage from a camera at the field level or from the press box. The scoreboard itself and required equipment would be provided by Daktronics, a rapidly growing video production company that’s featured at some of the biggest locations in the world; Times Square, Piccadilly Circus, Gillette Stadium, and TD Garden, to name a few.

A project this ambitious doesn’t come cheap: the price tag of the video scoreboard sits at a hefty $145,000.  The money would come from funding up-front by local sponsors, who in return, would earn commercial spots during games.  This is where problems arise. Existing school district policies prohibit paid advertising on school grounds due to concerns that advertising could poorly reflect the values of the school and its students–and potentially misguide the Pre K-12 audience.  In order for the scoreboard proposal to become reality, the language of this town ordinance must be changed. With this being the major obstacle, Umbrianna notes that changes are currently being pursued: “There have already been a couple of school committee meetings and sub-committee meetings that are working on changing the wording with advertising so we can make this work.”

Just as there was a backlash when the SHS Music Department recommended the purchase of the Steinway & Sons Concert Grand Piano, there will inevitably be some opposition to this video scoreboard.  In anticipation of this situation, Umbrianna says, “It’s definitely a luxury and one that a lot of people will question ‘Do you need it?’ and our argument is, ‘You know what? We kinda do.'” He cited the revolutionary trend of South Shore athletics as the reason for this being a necessity.

As for the road ahead, Umbrianna and Luette are moving quickly. Umbrianna commented, “We’re already kinda starting to put the bug into people’s ears to see who might be interested.  There’s also a school committee meeting in January that’s going to vote on it and hopefully, get that ball rolling so we can get the word out to the community.” Should the proposal be approved, we can expect a mix of excitement and controversy within the coming months as Scituate prepares to become a showcase venue for modern public high school athletics.