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There seems to be substantial disagreement in the auction community regarding what this sign says. Actually, there appear to be two-three-four distinct camps regarding what exactly this sign says:

    1. No Skateboarding, Rollerskating or Rollerblading and there’s a possible fine if you do.
    2. You can Skateboard, Rollerskate or Rollerblade but you face a possible fine if you do.
    3. You can Skateboard, Rollerskate or Rollerblade.
    4. What sign are you talking about? I don’t see any sign …

My parents — grandparents — aunts and uncles — almost everyone taught me growing up that this sign says #1. Some auctioneers say that actually, this sign says #2. An even fewer — somewhat concerning — number of auctioneers say the sign says #3. Finally, a few say #4.

It would appear to me that #1 is the best interpretation: Don’t Skateboard, Rollerskate nor Rollerblade. I can offer #2 allows for a risk/reward decision in that you can possibly Skateboard, Rollerskate, or Rollerblade but face a potential fine. Finally, #3 seems to be preposterous, and #4 indicates you are in denial.

An auctioneer called me the other day and asked if he could allow the seller to bid at his [non-forced sale] absolute auction. I told him (#1) that he couldn’t. He then asked if he could anyway … the opposite of what I just told him. I said, “Well you can (#2) but there are some substantial risks involved.”

Would you imagine that the city where this playground is located would run an advertisement on television that said “Go ahead and Skateboard, Rollerskate or Rollerblade but know you face a possible fine?” Or, would they advertise, “No Skateboarding, Rollerskating or Rollerblading?”

Could the police stop you from Skateboarding, Rollerskating or Rollerblading or merely fine you for doing so? What should this sign say if they actually want you to Skateboard, Rollerskate or Rollerblade or was okay to do so?

In other words, would they desire everyone to do it for the want of fees, or do they not want any Skateboarding, Rollerskating nor Rollerblading? What is their goal? Would you conclude the sign isn’t clear? It seems clear to me.

As I continue to write, teach, create videos, etc. I am going to endeavor to interpret such signs, leaning towards the #1 interpretation. If you insist it’s rather #2, that’s fine, but #1 is likely the law’s intent and has much less risk. If you like #3 or #4, I suggest you study #1 and #2 again.

Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, CAI, CAS, AARE has been an auctioneer and certified appraiser for over 30 years. His company’s auctions are located at: Mike Brandly, Auctioneer, RES Auction Services and Goodwill Columbus Car Auction. He serves as Distinguished Faculty at Hondros College, Executive Director of The Ohio Auction School, an Instructor at the National Auctioneers Association’s Designation Academy and America’s Auction Academy. He is faculty at the Certified Auctioneers Institute held at Indiana University and is approved by the The Supreme Court of Ohio for attorney education.