What’s the Score?

Owen McArdle, Staff Reporter

Welcome to one of the most affluent places to live in America: Arlington County. A thriving economy, a renowned school system, thousands of happy consumers bustling about — yet one of the three largest schools in this commendable community lacks a working scoreboard. This paradox has had parents, students and curious Arlington residents alike scratching their heads for years.

The scoreboard at Greenbrier field is not shattered, opaque or severely damaged, but it is dysfunctional and has been for some time. This is especially frustrating for athletes whose sports play in broad daylight, as the scoreboard’s bulbs are so dim they are nearly impossible to see. Parents of these athletes have voiced their complaints about the dull board, arguing that each of the other high schools in Arlington have modern, working scoreboards, while our school’s model has been in use since 2003.

In 2019, a funding effort was jump-started by the Yorktown High School Boosters, who sought to raise awareness and money for a new scoreboard at Greenbrier field. Parents and boosters were not the only ones aware of this issue, however. The administration at our school has been investigating a way to replace the lackluster board since the fundraising began.

“When we started raising funds in the fall of 2019, our goal was to replace the scoreboard. We investigated the different options and essentially there were three different options. The costs involved with the scoreboard are the scoreboard itself, the posts on which the scoreboard sits, and the installation of said scoreboard on the posts,” Michael Krulfeld, Director of Student Activities at our school, said.

The first option was to replace the board with a brighter, updated model of the current scoreboard on the same posts. A second option would be to purchase a modern, partially digital board, which would require new posts as it would not fit on the current scoreboard’s posts. (It is important to note that the installation of posts for these scoreboards are often equal to or more expensive than the scoreboard itself.) The third and final option is to replace the scoreboard with a fully digital model with a much broader functionality, which would require new posts as well.

“[The fully digital board is] what we were going for. We didn’t want to replace the scoreboard with a current model since we already are perhaps at or behind current technology. If we put up a new scoreboard to replace the one we have now, in 20 years when that one starts to falter, we will be further behind technology-wise. We wanted to go for the cream of the crop to get the best scoreboard we could. However, we ran into some significant issues,” Krulfeld said.

The most pressing issue is not the cost of the scoreboard, but its ownership. Since Arlington County Department of Parks and Recreation (DPR) owns Greenbrier Park, they are responsible for approving any permit for a new scoreboard. DPR does not allow fully digital media scoreboards. 

Despite this looming hurdle, parents of the fundraising effort are confident that it can be worked through as momentum for the new scoreboards at APS high schools builds up throughout the county. Parents have stressed that permitting is not a brick wall on the path to a new scoreboard; it is simply an obstacle that needs to be sorted out with the Arlington county government before the gears of the fundraising effort can be set into motion.

When the fundraising for the new scoreboard at Greenbrier began, Wakefield, Washington-Liberty and Yorktown were working together to get fully digital boards at all three high schools. This effort came to a screeching halt not due to lack of funding, but because of the pandemic.

“We have started to ramp up the process; however, I would not say that there is positive movement towards a new board with regards to the permitting process. There is positive movement in terms of our belief that we could get sponsorships, our belief we could fundraise and our desire to do so,” Krulfeld said.

Our school has been hesitant to replace the current scoreboard with a simpler, brighter model with the knowledge that a fully digital scoreboard is the long-term goal for all three high schools.

Once the issue of permitting is solved, however, the disaster of fundraising presents itself. The costs of the scoreboard would fall on APS and the YHS Boosters, causing much confusion for members of the community who believe that Arlington, who owns Greenbrier Park, should cover the expense.

“The Arlington County government should replace the scoreboard with a state-of-the-art scoreboard that can operate effectively in bright sunshine and does all the bells and whistles that a scoreboard should. We’re one of the richest counties in the country – you know we have enough money to pay for the scoreboard,” Mike Cantwell, president of the Yorktown Civic Association, said.

Our school is the only high school in Arlington whose facilities are shared with the county. Because of this unique situation, the dilemma of costs for shared items like the scoreboard present themselves.

“APS and DPR have a Memorandum of Understanding for maintenance, repair and replacement. Given APS is the only user of the scoreboards, snack bar, ticket booth, et cetera, we are responsible for repair and replacement of these spaces.  For shared items, such as the turf and goal posts, the two entities split the cost,” Krulfeld said.

Due to this complex relationship with DPR, the odd situation of ownership at Greenbrier Park and the debacle of fundraising between APS and the community, it may seem unlikely that a new scoreboard is in the clear future. It is, however, clear that our school’s administration, as well as the parents of YHS Boosters, are working together to put their plan in motion with the hopes of having the sparkling new scoreboard at Greenbrier Park next time the leaves begin changing colors.