top of page

Iowa History Daily: January 5 - Close Game Inspires Big Idea

Iowa History Daily: On January 5, 1934, a controversial last second shot forced overtime in a rivalry game between Nile Kinnick’s Adel HS and Dallas Center HS. Inspired by the local fall-out from the closely contested game, Elmer Foster ended up inventing the Fair-Play Scoreboard.

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


bottom of page