Youth Sports Summit: Five Takeaways
August 30, 2019
In Dallas on Tuesday night, we gathered together some of the largest and most influential youth sports organizations for networking and discussion. It was a chance for these leading youth sports entrepreneurs to compare notes, trade ideas, and identify opportunities to work together. Here were our five main takeaways.
How Does It Work In Your Sport?
With the rise of club sports organizations and tournaments replacing league play, networks are built within individual sports but rarely across different sports. There are specific nuances to each sport. For example, enterprising soccer and basketball organizations are dealing with a larger team pool than volleyball and baseball organizations. And as a result, soccer and basketball orgs think about scale differently.
While the sheer number of teams and players may vary across sports, there are numerous commonalities that bond these separate sports together. How organizations think about marketing, technology, parental engagement, and the challenges surrounding accessibility are just a few of these commonalities. Throughout the evening, leaders were comparing notes on how each organization handled these business challenges.
It Starts With Payment Collection
Collecting participation fees is the primary business model for youth sports organizations. Organizers love working with LeagueApps because of our ability to help them optimize and maximize collection, no matter how they do it (payment plans, variable pricing, ability to work off fees, coach collection). An engaging discussion surrounding how they deal with parents who don’t pay, illustrates how vital this topic can be for organizers. One solution provided to the group was the use of registration insurance, a tactic that’s becoming increasingly popular.
Increasing Scholarship Opportunities For Kids
Much ink has been spilled regarding the challenges youth athletes are facing as it relates to access, in part due to rising costs. But what is often ignored is how organizations are dealing with this accessibility challenge. For many, it simply comes down to the bottom line. There was an animated dialogue at our event about the different ways organizations try to raise money. Some have a minimum fundraising commitment – with the first $200 going into a fund that’s used for scholarships, and any other funds raised above that figure go towards reducing dues. They’ll then offer a common fundraising tool – be it an organizational-wide raffle, or events.
Thank you to everyone who came out to support our Beer Garden fundraiser at Cruise Night. All of the money we made goes right back to the community in scholarships, youth sports, boosters and more. Thank you @slobeerstream @deadoakbrewing @TentCityBeer for the donations! pic.twitter.com/S9AlCVpvm0
— Atascadero Fire (@ATAFireL3600) August 18, 2019
Others offer kids the chance to work/coach at their facility or tournaments and match what they earn to help offset their dues. Everyone involved said it was a lot of work, and they wanted to improve this element of their organization. Despite their desire to improve, their progress is already substantial ($300K in one case, $75K in another).
The Challenge/Opportunity Of eCommerce
Everyone in attendance recognized that parents (and kids) have a tremendous appetite for spirit wear that projects the brand of the organization while generating revenue. The group agreed that there is a lot of work involved to do it right and real expertise is required when it comes to merchandising and online sales. There wasn’t a consensus, however, on how exactly to achieve that objective. In some cases, the organization becomes the team dealer, enabling the org to capture more revenue and drive sales to other local organizations. Others are outsourcing their eCommerce practice entirely – taking a smaller check with no headaches.
We’re in an age of innovation and it’s clear that we’ve just scratched the surface of what is to come. But what can we expect, on the innovation front, from youth sports? The room was filled with youth sports organizations that are thriving, growing, and innovating. They’ve figured out ways to address core operational challenges with technology – which then frees them up to ask what’s next. We discussed everything from live stats and machine learning, the use of augmented reality in training, payment innovations, and even how to build club team alumni associations. The only certainty is that change is coming, and these organizations are embracing it.
It was inspiring to be in the presence of real youth sports professionals focused on getting better – and impacting more kids.