Thursday, December 9th, 2010...12:23 am
When I’m not blogging or watching St. John’s (and now the Knickerbockers) Basketball, I’m pouring most of my heart, soul and herniated L5-S1 vertabrate into Sportsvite. This summer I moved into the General Manager role which has brought a whole new slew of managerial responsibilities. It’s been an interesting challenge. As Aristotle might have once said, the non-chaotic digital start-up isn’t worth starting.
Start-ups move quick so it’s tricky to keep all of my networks and contacts updated on our progress. For Sportsvite’s business partners and clients we regularly send out a corporate update newsletter. But I haven’t properly blogged about Sportsvite since the July 2007. So for all you lucky little Littyhoopsters out there you’re about to get it straight from this blogger’s keyboard…
Once upon a time, circa 2006, Sportsvite.com officially launched with the simple goal to make it easier for people to connect with each other to organize and manage their sports activities. We focused on adult sports because we wanted to create the solution to the very problem that we faced. I, for one, still have a yearning desire to brick three-pointers, pull softballs way foul, and run very slowly. Sports are well organized for youth, high school and even college athletics. But enter the world of adulthood, move to a new city, and start a non-sports professional career and it becomes considerably more difficult to play. In fact our original Sportsvite tagline was Stop Playing With Yourself. Sportsvite’s mantra is that playing sports is just as much fun for an adult. Our aim is to leverage digital and social media to make it easier to do just that.
Sportsvite.com has grown into an online community with over 150K registered members. It helps thousands of people play their favorite sports and activities. Sportsvite members can find other players, teams or leagues in their area. It also makes the life of a rec sports team captain a bit more organized. Along the way, we realized in order to make Sportsvite a scalable and sustainable business we needed to aggregate MILLIONS of players on Sportsvite.com. To do this, we needed to have an even bigger impact on recreational sports.
The first place we looked was at the local sports leagues (think the Urban Professional League or NYCSSC here in NYC). It was clear that these leagues are creating the opportunities for adults to play their favorite team sports. Over 1500 league organizations were using Sportsvite to create league profiles (NYC Partners) to promote their sports leagues to the Sportsvite community (similar to how a business or organization will create a profile on Facebook). This is just a fraction of the thousands of sport & social clubs, parks & rec, YMCA and private local rec sports leagues that can be found in every city, town and neighborhood.
Most league organizers operate as a type of local event producer. They secure field space, hire refs and staff, manage registration and schedules, communicate directly with team captains and players, and produce sports events weekly. We spoke with hundreds of sports league organizers to understand how technology could help leagues more efficiently operate and expand their business. Most league organizers simply didn’t have the expertise or free capital to invest in digital solutions.
In 2010 we launched LeagueApps. Our goal is for it to be the best digital solution to power adult recreational sports leagues. So far, the feedback and response has been promising. Since it was launched in the early fall over 25 leagues have joined the platform. Just this month we’ve launched new league partners in Miami (Miami SSC) Philadelphia (Philly Sports Network), Phoenix (Coed Sports Arizona) and Los Angeles (All City Athletics). Next we plan to work with our league partners to enhance the LeagueApps platform to improve the experience for their members. This includes social media integration, mobile functionality, team management features (death to the dreaded forfeit!) and e-commerce features.
Local sports leagues can be a valuable platform for brands and marketers that want to reach young, active adults through both experiential (at the field) and digital marketing efforts. Yet most leagues don’t have the audience reach or sales experience to secure sponsorship deals. Most brands can’t build a program that has enough size or impact for it to be worthwhile. So Sportsvite has networked these leagues together to aggregate an audience of active young adults. We call it the Recreational Sports Network and it allows our league partners to opt into brand sponsorships opportunities. Over 500 leagues have joined the RSN which represents 1MM+ adult sports players. Through the RSN, we’ve completed sponsorship programs for Clif Bar, Corona, Smokey Bones Bar + Grill, Buffalo Wild Wings and POWERADE.
As Sportsvite builds up its presence in adult recreational sports we’re also looking at other sectors of sports that can use a digital upgrade. Sports camps, AAU tournaments, church leagues, fitness clubs and youth sports are on the radar screen. Amazingly, many of the 5.5MM students that play college intramurals are still going down to the fieldhouse to sign up for their leagues with paper and pen!
We like to think about what the recreational sports world will be like in the next generation. I got to say it’s awesome. Every single at bat, jump shot, second serve and first down will be recorded digitally and shared with your friends, teammates and competition. Every player will have all their stats and results to see how they fare against their friends. Ask any recreational athlete if they would like to feel more like a pro. There answer will be a resounding Marv Albertesque YES. Hit a game-winning shot and read about it on a local blog. Win a league sportsmanship award sponsored by Mastercard…Priceless!
Once a person taps into their passion great things happen. By great things I’m talking about a fantasy sports league made up of your friends in your local rec sports league. Imagine that. Or look at it from a utility angle. How about a mobile app to find, organize or create a pick-up game on the fly by seeing who checks in at the local park.
In the future, everyone will have their 15 minutes of Sportscenter fame.
Here is mine…