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Moneyball Tactics Can Solve Local Sports

Best Practices, Sports Community, Value of LeagueApps

Local participatory sports recently broke its way into mainstream media. It started with a viral video of local teenagers playing soccer. The kids are interrupted by San Francisco tech employees with a permit for the public playing field in the Mission District. You can watch the video below and read how the story played out here.

 

 

This particular event hit a political nerve in a city that is already fiercely divided by class warfare. Local, national and tech media outlets quickly latched on to the catchy story. Within the LeagueApps office, a spirited email thread debated all sides of this issue.

The video resulted in hundreds of protesters gathering in front of San Francisco City Hall. They successfully lobbied the Parks & Recreation Department to rescind the permitting system in favor of unrestricted “free play”. The hype has already started to fade now that local activists seemingly rectified a wrong doing, and notched a win for local kids in their community.

But we believe everybody seemed to miss the bigger story and the major issue. It’s the problem that plagues almost all sports organizers in almost every community throughout the country.

Field Space. Field Space & Field Space.

Municipal playing fields are poorly utilized. Local Parks & Recreation departments often use antiquated and inefficient processes to administer and communicate permitting. Poor field usage policies exacerbate the issue of already limited field space options. This is especially problematic in urban areas and under-privileged communities that are often plagued by “play deserts” – lack of safe, adequate playing areas in areas highly populated with young children.

If you watch the video, you’ll see a scene that is all too familiar at parks and playing feels within every local community. Two separate groups that both really want to play sports at the same place at the same time – without full agreement to who is rightfully entitled to the field. Here at LeagueApps we see this and frown. We want both groups to be able to enjoy their sports experiences.

In a quick survey of LeagueApps partners, over 75% cite lack of affordable field space as a major challenge to provide sports programs and activities to meet demand within their communities. Many sports organizers (especially our adult sport league partners) operate with fear that their permits will be revoked without notice as municipalities often change policies without warning or explanation.

The field space problem plagues all types of sports organizations from non-profit youth leagues, scholastic programs, community organizations as well as the adult sports leagues and clubs (who often receive unfair amounts of flack for providing a great community service).

One cause of this field space predicament is the trend away from municipalities and parks & rec departments organizing actual sports programs. As different types of organizations (non-profits, private sports organizations, etc.) provide sports programming there is often a disconnect with the municipal authorities that oversee field permits. The municipalities have simple not kept up with the rising demand for their space.

At LeagueApps, we spend much of our time trying to figure out how our platform and our greater network of local sports partners can work together to solve the most complex issues of local participatory sports.

We know that field space needs to be solved by diving into the data of field utilization – which is now easier to collect and analyze. It’s moneyball concepts of analyzing data applied to local sports.

The most compelling aspect of the video is not that tech employees in SF are being bratty but rather that these tech employees are exactly the people who have the ability to solve the real world problems that they are facing. In fact, in our office we often talk about the concept of an “AirBnB” for field space as a solution to create a more efficient allocation of playing fields.

LeagueApps is already starting to work with its partners on creating solutions.

A few initiatives that we believe will make a difference include:

1) Publish information on how field space permits work in every community. Make it easily accessible and available to all.

2) Help provide the software solutions to sports organizations AND parks & rec departments to handle the administration and organization of their playing fields.

3) Provide insights through registration data on how and when local playing fields are being utilized. Often, fields are only being utilized only a few hours a day (in which conflicts occur).

4) Speak up! LeagueApps works with ProjectPlay of the Aspen Institute and other organizations that are surfacing the issues around field spaces in local communities. We need to make sure everybody knows how important it is for our communities to create these spaces.

5) Enable sports organizers to better partner and collaborate with local parks departments. Often the sports organizations will be happy to consume maintenance, lighting and other costs for access to field space.

We’re confident that these solutions work. But lots needs to happen to actually implement and execute upon these initiatives. While it’s always great to learn about new parks and playing fields developed it’s easier and cost-effective to better utilize existing spaces.

So here is our LeagueApps message to the tech employees that love to play sports. Keep on playing! Next time you’re part of a spat over playing fields in your community, recognize that you have the power, influence and ability to be part of the solution!

Email us anytime and we’ll let you know plenty of ways that you can help!

Why We Work at LeagueApps

Best Practices, Company News, Press, Release Notes, Value of LeagueApps

LeagueApps is not your average startup. We spend our days talking to Little League presidents, club sports directors, social sports organizers, and everything in between. And we do it with one central goal in mind: To improve the world of participatory sports from the ground up. Our work is challenging, hectic, gritty, and yes, fun. So this week, the team decided to reflect on our experience at LeagueApps and share a couple of the reasons why we love working here.

 

LeagueApps Top 10 

1. Being challenged every day to make things happen. At a growing start-up, delivering results is the biggest challenge, but it’s also our greatest motivation. The thrill of this challenge is what keeps our team coming to work and loving what we do every day.

2. LeagueApps OTA’s – Our NFL-inspired Organized Team Activities. Twice a year, the whole team steps back from daily operations to gather together, discuss how we can improve as a company, and plan for the future.

3. No dress code.  Things are pretty casual over at LeagueApps, and that’s the way we like it. Although, some like to push the limits more than others.

4. SportsCenter is on 24/7.  As a sports technology company, sports are kind of a big deal around here. So we like to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the world of sports. But if music is more you’re thing, we always have our JamBox pumping to keep the energy up throughout the day.

5. The close-knit work environment. LeagueApps may be growing, but we are very much still a start-up. Our office is what some would call “cozy,” and with fewer than 20 people in our NYC headquarters, we know each other pretty well. The good news is, we also really like each other.

6. Speaker series. Every month, we invite industry veterans to visit our office to share their knowledge around sales, technology, business and everything in between. This summer, ESPN’s Tom Farrey led us in a discussion about the evolution of youth sports in America.

7. Being able to rock a mohawk and still be taken seriously. Not everyone can pull it off, but with UX design skills like Jeff Doan, we allow it.


8. LeagueApp-athon. At this summer’s OTA’s we held our most successful “hack-athon yet”. Check out some of the work we accomplished.

9. Team outings! Every couple of weeks, the team gets to take off for some well-deserved fun. Happy hours, bubble soccer, and trips to Chelsea Piers are all fair game.

10. Making a real difference in the lives of our partners. When our partners go out of their way to tell us how much we’ve improved their lives, all of our hard work is worth it. We’re building the best local sports company in the world.

 

Think you have what it takes to work at LeagueApps?

If this sounds like your dream company, then get in touch! We’re actively looking to find the right players to join our team. Use your resume, online profiles, presentation skills and persistence to prove it. Send us an email at careers@leagueapps.com or apply online for any of our open positions.

 

Mobile Registration is Here!

Feature Highlight, Press, Product News, Release Notes, Tech Specs

We’re happy to announce that we’ve rolled out a great new release — Mobile Registration.

Not only does this release provide a great registration experience on mobile phones for your members, it also transforms a number of other features in your member-facing sites to be completely mobile friendly.

This feature has been rolled out to partners in stages. It’s now live for most partners, and will be fully rolled out to all partners over the next few weeks. You can see if it’s live for you by looking for “Site status: ONLINE” in the Mobile panel on your console dashboard (see below):

Mobile Site Status

Features Overview

Here is an overview of what’s included in this release:

Mobile Registration

Your members can now easily browse programs, register, submit payments, and manage their accounts from their phones.

  • Complete mobile registration and payment collection feature.
  • Includes the same features and program details as your full desktop website.
  • Secure SSL-encrypted payment checkout.

Mobile Site Theme & Homepage

When your members visit your LeagueApps-powered site on their phone, the layout automatically changes to use a specially-designed mobile theme that you can control. This mobile theme ensures that things look great and fit nicely on smaller screens of mobile phones.

You can customize your mobile theme colors and logo, as well as mobile specific homepage content, using new tools included in the manager console (described in our help article here).

Our Thoughts on Mobile

We shared some of our thinking and plans around mobile in this recent blog post LeagueApps Is Mobile-First. Here’s Why. Check this out to learn more about why this mobile release is great for your members, and for your organization.

What Else You Need to Know About This Release

We have crafted a full FAQ and How-To page that explains our mobile rollout plan and everything you need to know to fully utilize the feature: Mobile Site FAQs & How-to

A few important things to note:

  • 1) You don’t need to do anything to activate your mobile site. Unless you want to customize your theme, add a mobile logo, or add in custom homepage content, you don’t need to do anything. Your members will automatically get the updated content.
  • 2) Any color choices you have made in the color panel of the Theme Editor have been carried over to the mobile theme. But, we did not make any changes/updates to your mobile theme. if you want to make any changes, just visit the Theme Editor and on the Colors tab, feel free to change anything you want to. Note: this also will update the desktop templates. (read more tips on how to handle if you are using custom CSS).
  • 3) You can upload a mobile logo. Just visit the Theme Editor and on the Images tab, and you can upload a mobile logo, as well as a mobile app icon.

Have questions, feedback, or need help?

LeagueApps Is Mobile-First. Here’s Why.

Feature Highlight, Product News, Tech Specs, Value of LeagueApps

Mobile is not the future of the web, it’s the present. We’ve listened to the feedback from our partners, checked our data, learned from our existing products and have worked very hard to build out our new mobile product. We’re rolling out our new mobile solutions in a phased approach. The first phase, which will go live next week, will allow your members to discover and register for programs seamlessly—on any device, at anytime.

Phase two will include everything else that your members can do on the desktop site, with the main features being roster & team management as well as schedule, results and announcements. We also plan to develop a fully mobile-optimized version of the admin console. All of these projects are top priorties and main components of our product roadmap in the next 6 months.

To get a sneak peek of this, check out our mobile gallery, or visit playleagueapps.com on a mobile device.

That’s right; mobile registration is coming next week! Your members will be able find programs, complete the entire registration process and submit payment — all easily from their mobile phone now (as well as any tablet or computer like before). Here are some of the highlights:

Let members register and pay from any device

In addition to LeagueApps powering your program listings and registration website (and widgets), your members will now enjoy a completely built-in mobile registration and programs discovery feature. These allow your members to easily browse programs, register, submit payment, and manage their account from their phone.

These features were built with modern technologies such as HTML5 so that your website looks fantastic, loads quickly, and is compatible with iPhone, Android and other smartphones.

  • Complete mobile registration and payment collection feature.
  • New mobile optimized website homepage
  • Includes the same features and program details as your full desktop website.
  • Secure SSL-encrypted payment checkout.

Customize your mobile theme for your brand

When your members visit your LeagueApps-powered site on their phone, the layout automatically changes to use a specially-designed mobile theme that you can control. This mobile theme ensures that things look great and fit nicely on smaller screens of mobile phones.

You can customize your mobile theme colors and logo, and homepage content using new tools included in the manager console (described here).

Rollout Plans & What you need to know

We have already released and tested this product to a handful of early release beta partners. We’ve seen great results and a smooth transition during this early release period. For example, more members are completing their registrations during the same session. We’re excited to open this up to all partners.

As this new feature rolls out, everything will work automatically and your members will immediately experience the benefits. Your mobile homepage, program listings and registration pages will be automatically mobile optimized as described.

You will also be able to customize your mobile theme colors as well as your mobile homepage.

Here is a FAQ to answer some of the most important questions regarding the mobile product release included here.

Why mobile? Because it’s how people get things done

While mobile is here now, we also believe that mobile is the future in terms of how people use and interact with digital tools, products and services. People want websites and services THEIR way — that means allowing them to use their phones easily. This is a necessary component in ensuring a better, more enjoyable experience for your members.

At LeagueApps, we have already seen…
– User visits on LeagueApps sites surpass 35% (September 2014 on mobile devices
– we’ve seen 25-30% of successful registrations by members taking place through mobile devices.
– 40% of LeagueApps emails opened on mobile devices

People are making the choice on their own to use their phones. We view it as our job to make sure they can do this easily and with a great experience.

This is why we are taking a “mobile-first” philosophy and why we have decided to continue an ongoing focus to build out more and more features on, and for mobile. This is only the beginning! We’ll continue to roll out new mobile features going forward; and these will be for both your members as well as for you and your admins.

LeagueApps All-star – Michael Bindelglass, the Natural

Company News, Dugout, LeagueApps Team, Press

Each and every member on the roster here at LeagueApps plays a unique role.  Our LeagueApps All-star series highlights a team member and how they contribute to our community


How did you become a part of the LeagueApps team?

I came from a background of working for the recreation department in high school and then Intramural Sports in college. I started here as an intern and really dove into the whole process before being hired here full time a few months after.

What is your role here at LeagueApps?

I currently serve as a Senior Sales Consultant and work with most of our youth baseball, softball and soccer programs.  I have also had the privilege of bringing on some of our most successful adult sport and social organizations onto the platform.

What is your favorite thing about coming into work every day?

It’s hard to pick one because I feel proud every time I bring a new partner on board with us. I know that LeagueApps is going to be a game changer for the organization and even more so for their participates.

What are your favorite sports experiences or activities?

Favorite Real Sports Experiences: Live sports events, Sunday Fun-days, Sports Tech Meetups, Sports Industry Networking.

Favorite Digital Sports Experiences: Madden, FIFA, NBA 2K, NHL

What else should the community know about you?

I love to read.  I’m fascinated by fiction novels about undersea warfare, modern combat and other adventure novels.  One of my favorite series to read growing up was the remake of the classic Chip Hilton Sports Series.

Social Media Marketing For Your Sports Organization: Part I

Best Practices, Product News, Value of LeagueApps

This post was written by our friends at Four Kicks Marketing.  They’re experts when it comes to driving demand and customer conversion through social media.  To learn more about Four Kicks marketing, head over to our Deal Center!

Which Platforms Are Right For My Sports Organization?

Utilizing Social Media to promote your sports programs and gain awareness in your community can be a powerful tool. After all, when it comes to internet use, Social Media sites are where your players spend most of their time online. Given the seemingly endless number of platforms within the realm of Social Media you can quickly find themselves spread thin.

Trying to exist on too many Social Media Platforms could affect your daily productivity while choosing the wrong ones will certainly affect your overall results. Your goal is to choose wisely and put a solid plan into action.

When selecting a Social Platform, consider a few things:

  • Determine Who is your targeted audience? Is this where your players already are? Does the platform lend itself to the nature of your organization?

  • Does the platform allow for easy sharing and connection with Fans and Followers? Should you consider paid advertising to increase reach?

  • Time How much time do you have to dedicate yourself to each platform? Should you hire someone or a professional agency to manage your communities so it’s done well?

  • Goals What do you want from Social Media? (Awareness, Direct Response and Sales, Recruitment)

Now that you’ve given some thought to your organization’s needs and objectives, it’s time to determine which Social Networks are relevant and best achieve your goals. Here are some statistics, overviews, and recommendations that will assist you with finding your place in Social Media.

Facebook: Creating a Facebook Page is a MUST

  • 1.32 BILLION Monthly Active Users

  • 90% of US Smartphone users check their newsfeed every day

  • People Ages 25-34 represent the largest group of active users

  • One out of every 5 page views on the internet is on Facebook

  • Facebook has highly targetable ad units that can reach your customers on any device

LeagueApps Top Tip: Our built in Facebook functionality makes it extremely easy for your participants to do the work for you.  Each and every registrant is prompted to share their registration for you programs with all of their friends and family on the Facebook network.

Twitter: Great for “listening” for new opportunities

  • Say almost anything to anybody in 140 characters or less – it’s the “what are you doing right now” platform

  • 271 MILLION active users

    • 63 MILLION active users in United States

  • Text-based posts dominate with links to external sites

  • “Listening” is possibly the most important use for Twitter; find new customers by looking for key phrases and opportunities to join the conversation

Instagram: THE visual platform

  • Branding is the primary function of a business’ existence here…for now

  • Share pictures from your events to spur the interest of potential players

  • 150 MILLION users strong, most users are active daily

  • User are young, mostly under the age of 35

Hopefully by now you’ve developed a sense of how and where your organization should be represented online. That’s great, but it’s not going to be enough to simply create those Social Media profiles. You’re going to need a strategy, an organized content calendar, and some ad budget set aside to ensure accurate and effective reach.

In the next edition of this four part guest-blog series we will examine content strategies and examples, some do’s and don’ts, and get you set you off down the path to Social Media success! Stay tuned!

11 Tips To Help Evaluate Sports Management Software

Best Practices, Tech Specs, Value of LeagueApps

This post was written by Senior Partnerships Consultant, Michael Scott.

Technology today is playing a greater role in youth sports than ever before. With the help of online platforms, gone are paper registrations, waivers, chasing parents for money, phone chains, newspaper ads and flyers. However, with so many different companies providing similar tools around sports management solutions, how do you make a decision?

After speaking with hundreds of organizations, these are some of the best questions that have been posed to me when helping potential partners assess a new piece of technology for their organization:

Does the platform improve the parent’s experience?

A great user experience means that everything from signing kids up to paying and keeping track of activities is simple and intuitive. When making your evaluation be sure to test what your participant’s will experience when using the platform. Is it easier than what you are asking parents to do now?

What value does this provide to our organization?

What are your goals when switching to another platform? Is it streamlining processes? A lot of technology vendors promise to make life easier – take note of the practical improvements. When considering the platform, think through how it eliminates manual entries, improves communication capabilities, and helps with the management and marketing of your organization. Without value in these areas, nothing else will matter. Ensure the platform is meeting your goals.

Is it cost-effective?

Free doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s good for your organization. The platform choice should align with your budget. When evaluating costs, the price should match your expectations and needs. If you are paying for a platform, can you quantify the value you are receiving in return — for instance, in units of time saved, increased reach of market, etc?

How are you getting charged?

From a business perspective, when researching costs, it’s important to understand the breakdown of costs. Your organization shouldn’t be charged if you’re not collecting money – and the money once collected should go straight into your bank account, not float another business. Are you paying for additional services or features like email, web hosting or offline payments received? Ensure you have a full understanding of the charges associated with the entire product and it’s services before committing to a platform.

What does the company do with the participant’s information?

Do you own your data? It is critical to understand what the platform does with member information. In some cases, member’s information can be sold to a third party, meaning participants are targeted for the rest of their lives because they played sports when they were younger. When you leave that platform, does your information leave with you?

How does support work?

Support is often forgotten until an unanticipated hurdle arises. It is crucial to understand how the vendor structures its support services. Many organizations have been left with a half-baked product because the vendor walked away after the sale. Are you being shuffled to a person overseas? Make sure you have a full knowledge of the guidance being provided, the terms of service and whether additional support is offered – and at what cost?

Are you able to integrate with your existing website?

With your established brand and website at the ready, selecting a platform that can integrate seamlessly is critical. If your organization has a great website why would you change it to use new technology? Selecting a platform to accept payments and registration does not have to mean investing in a whole new website.

Free-trial?

Most people don’t buy a car without test driving it. Why would you implement technology without using it first? Having a trial allows you to see if it’s actually as easy to use as the company promises and gives you a sense of what you can expect.

Can you talk with existing customers?

Who better to explain the value of the technology than an organization that is using the product? The vendor should have confidence introducing you to a partner(s) that can illuminate the experience with first-hand knowledge.

How hard is it to implement this technology?

In order to fully understand the time to move to a new platform, it is key to grasp the processes and plans to put in place and a projected timeline of the associated activities. How long is the onboarding process? Does the vendor offer guidance with the set-up? Is there a launch plan and what are the associated costs? Knowing the answers to these questions will allow you to establish if you are going to be able to implement this technology in the expected timeframe.

What is the vendor’s product roadmap?

Is the vendor consistently updating the product? Do they take partner feedback into consideration? Are they focused on solving your needs today — and tomorrow? Understanding the roadmap of features, feedback loops and consistency and speed of innovation will allow you to assess whether the technology is a good fit.

With these questions in hand, your organization will be in a position to wade through all the outdated technology on the market. The evaluation process should be taken seriously. No one likes buying the house that looks pretty on the outside but has termites and plumbing issues lying within the woodwork. Make sure to ask the necessary questions to ensure a comprehensive evaluation.

Good luck! To learn more about LeagueApps, request a demo or create a free account!

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