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Iowa History Daily: December 14 - Fair-Play Keeps the Score

Iowa History Daily: On December 14, 1935, the first ad for a Fair-Play Scoreboard appeared in a Des Moines newspaper. Created by Elmer Foster after a last second shot forced overtime between Nile Kinnick’s Adel HS and rival Dallas Center, Fair-Play Scoreboards grew to become one of the world’s leading scoreboard manufacturers.


Foster, physics teacher and Dallas Center superintendent, found himself surrounded after a hotly-contested rivalry game with Adel during January 1934. The contest came down to the final basket, and anarchy reigned as each school’s timekeeper kept separate stopwatches at the scorer’s table. When the timekeepers couldn’t agree, Foster decided “fair play” should decide the game and the contest went to overtime. 

Adel eventually won, but Foster thought to himself “there ought to be a scoreboard to let them know (how much time is left). Working with a jeweler from Dallas Center, Foster devised an electric clock with 8-minute intervals which could be controlled by a wired remote box at the scorer’s table. The next year, the clock and scoreboard debuted in the Dallas Center gym.

Shortly thereafter, Foster went into the scoreboard business full-time. By 1955, the company recorded over $1,000,000 in sales and went on to become one of Iowa’s most relied upon brands. #IowaOTD #IowaHistoryDaily #IowaHistoryCalendar


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