Sports Management Blog

Customer Spotlight

Customer Spotlight

In this customer spotlight, we want to showcase David Cragg! David is the tireless commissioner of his local Bocce Ball league. Bocce ball is a sport of skill and strategy, not to mention a fun way to meet people! Effectively running sports leagues isn’t easy, and in some cases, can become like a full time job. Some of what Squadfusion helps David with is scheduling games, organizing teams, and maintaining communication amongst all involved.

Bocce
Ken, David, and John

Transitioning to Squadfusion

Before using Squadfusion, the commissioner needed to manually schedule and reschedule games. This process was hard since there were only two courts! In addition, they had to be at all the games to keep track of stats and results. This load on the commissioner made it hard to find someone to take over when the previous commissioner retired. A vocal member trying to make the league run smoother, David was nominated to take over as commissioner. He worked to find a better way to remove the hassle for him and whoever takes over as commissioner in the future. David has worked with us to address bugs, and in suggesting and talking through additional features. David’s case is a great look at running sports leagues!

David began to use Squadfusion this past October, transitioning the league just before the winter season began. A quick orientation, and a couple individual sessions later, David was up and running with Squadfusion! A dinner for the winter season was held, and feedback was positive!

The league has over 100 people over the winter and summer seasons. The summer season splits the players into 12 teams and 4 divisions. These teams play over a 4-month long summer season starting in the 1st week of May. The top 2 teams in each of the divisions make it to a 3-week playoff, and a champion is crowned.

Bocce Ball Champions!
Congratulations to the Winners!

What is Bocce Ball?

Bocce ball is a sport played in between 2 players, or between 2 teams of 2, 3, or 4. The game starts by tossing a small ball called the jack, from one end of the court to a zone a few feet short of the other end of the court. The team members stand on opposite sides of the court. The grouping opposite the side the jack was thrown from, play by throwing bigger balls (to differentiate from the jack) toward the jack. Using an underhand throw, various strategies are deployed to get more of your teams balls as close to the jack as possible. This includes hitting the jack to move it, and hitting the balls of the other team. A more detailed look at the rules here!

Effectively running sports leagues to focus on the game!

Some Advice on Running Sports Leagues

David kindly shared his perspectives on running sports leagues with me. What worked for him was his preparation. David spent time identifying goals and desires for what he wanted. He then interviewed companies and did his research to end up with Squadfusion. David’s hard work to make the burden on the commissioner less has allowed for the focus to be on bocce!

Running sports leagues requires a lot of work and dedication, but the burden on the administrator can be eased. Apart from logistics, managing people and working with people can be difficult. In the words of David: “Don’t get too stressed, working with people gets hard.” Having your needs figured out, goes a long way in the process. We wanted to thank David and all of our customers for their support!

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Youth Sports Systems Around the World

Youth Sports Systems Around the World

Youth sports are a complex and difficult entity. There is no right way or wrong way to run a system. Each sport has different requirements and logistics, and each country and part of the world have different ways of doing things. The way we do things here varies by sport, and by competitiveness of the leagues. That idea can be seen in other parts of the country. To clarify, this is simply an examination of different systems, no decision on what is better or worse.

Youth Sports Academies
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International Soccer

Probably the biggest proponent of the academy system for youth sports is international soccer. All teams, big and small, have some sort of academy that varies in scale between teams. The smaller clubs have a local focus, and end up taking kids who couldn’t find a place in the academies of their local teams or bigger clubs. Teams like FC Barcelona even scout kids as young as 8 to join their academy from around the world, the most famous example being Leo Messi. Once in the academy, players get educated, a place to stay, and spend their time training like they are professionals. The key there is that these big clubs spend time identifying future pros, and develop them, and admittance is very hard.

team management app
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This process of bringing kids in forced FIFA, the infamous governing body, to regulate and set rules for bringing kids in. In a lot of cases, like the case of US men’s national team star Christian Pulisic, families pack up everything and move to a new place with a new language for a chance to play at a high level. For every success story, there are multiple stories like the story of Ben Lederman. His story was recently highlighted on ESPN, where he and his family moved to Barcelona when their academy recruited him. Due to a technicality, he wasn’t allowed to play for Barcelona, and once he figured that out, he lost a year of playing time. This led to him having to move to smaller clubs to work his way back, a path he is currently working on.

Local Youth Sports Parallels

In international soccer, kids tend to focus on becoming stars as kids, to escape some poverty they live in, or to become the star they dreamt of being. For many, its an escape that will make or break their lives and the lives of their families. In America, people play football and basketball for that, but there isn’t the pathway to dedicate yourself to a sport like you are a professional from a young age.

I would say AAU basketball is the closest thing to this in terms of the money involved. There is travel all around the country, camps, academies, and televised tournaments. In other youth sports, little league baseball via the little league world series touches that level of attention, but nothing year round. Youth football has the scouts, and college recruiting is becoming like the academies of international soccer. Not only that we see stories of kids in middle school getting recruited and even offers from top college programs. College athletics via the NCAA are becoming like academies too, with tutors, dedicated study areas, and fully set up schedules and professional training facilities. Colleges have been spending tens of millions each for facilities that rival the pros.

team management software
Clemson University Athletics Weight Room Image

The NCAA almost has created a catch all academy for all of the sports, but not all sports get treated the same. (That is a topic for another day) Like that, basketball in Europe has taken this path too. Teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona have their academies that have players from other sports as well. Luka Doncic of the Dallas Mavericks made his name early on with Real Madrid’s basketball organization, after being scouted as a kid from his native Lithuania.

Youth sports
Luka Doncic with Real Madrid Image

All in All,

in America, we tend to pride ourselves on options. Instead of putting kids in an academy or dedicating themselves to one craft, parents want their kids to do a lot of different things. Education, youth sports, some sort of music, the list can vary, but the goal is options. Parents encourage it, and teachers and counselors try and enforce it by trying to discourage putting all your eggs in one basket. We do live in the land of opportunity after all, and parents want their kids to be ready for whatever that opportunity may be.

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A New Year's Thank You

A New Year’s Thank You

Organizing and coordinating successful youth sports organizations is tough, and requires a ton of hard work and dedication. In honor of the New Year, we want to thank all of our customers for the support and feedback. With that, we wanted to showcase the Hill Country Cowboys, and their do-all web administrator Shellie Nichols. Shellie was kind enough to share with me her perspectives on youth sports, and about the Hill Country Cowboys.

Customer Profile

The Hill Country Cowboys are a youth football team in Austin, Texas, that also have a an excellent cheer program. Their football program focuses on the basics, easing kids into tackle football while teaching the fundamentals. They focus on those fundamentals to tackle safely and minimize the risk of injury as much as possible.

Hill Country Cowboys
Hill Country Cowboys

Their cheer teams participate in cheer competitions, and just finished one this past November. The cheer program was resurrected with the hard work and dedication of Shellie.

Hill Country Cowboys
Hill Country Cowboys
Hill Country Cowboys
Hill Country Cowboys
Hill Country Cowboys
Hill Country Cowboys

While her title is webmaster, Shellie does so much more. Shellie has helped raise money, update the program to make life easier, and look out for programs and software to make operation as smooth as possible. She is always working, and is constantly looking to make the experience of participation the best it can be, all with her tough day job as a nurse.

Hill Country Cowboys
Hill Country Cowboys

The process of looking for the best possible registration software and league management software has led her to try out other programs until she came across SquadFusion.

“Has all of the bells and whistles, but is still a registration website at the core for any internet illiterate person to work with.”- Rough Paraphrase of Shellie Nichols

Its always great to get compliments, but a great description of SquadFusion can be seen through the eyes of Shellie, that SquadFusion “Has all of the bells and whistles, but is still a registration website at the core for any internet illiterate person to work with.” Shellie currently uses SquadFusion for registration, and the coaches love that they don’t need to wait for Shellie to get things done and keep things running. Shellie has also been kind enough to push SquadFusion within the CFYL, the governing body the Hill Country Cowboys are a part of. Huge thank you to Shellie for sharing the pictures and giving some of her time to chat!

We pride ourselves on being able to provide individual service and catering SquadFusion to your needs. That comes from getting feedback, good or bad, stemming from communication. Our customers have been great about that, and we wanted to extend a big thank for that. We hope you had a great holiday season, and we will you all the best for the new year ahead!

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Youth Sports and the Importance of Fundamentals

Youth Sports and the Importance of Fundamentals

What do you gain from participating in youth sports? Apart from points made in past posts, another benefit comes to light, and that is the importance of fundamentals. In all sports, we have seen changes across eras. For example, football and basketball are seeing more points scored, baseball has seen more strikeouts and more home-runs. Football has been in the spotlight with their many a rule change due to player safety concerns. More on the NFL later, but all in all, players are stronger, bigger, faster, and more athletic overall. In all of these sports, there are things that haven’t changed, and those thing can be viewed at the youth sports level and up. The early stages of youth sports is where kids learn the basics of being active and healthy. The important thing is learning how to do those things properly, otherwise future issues can arise.

Defensive Rules
Image from The Weekly Standard

Football

A great example of what can go wrong with trying to adapt at a later level, or in this case the top, comes in football. Player safety has come into focus with the concussion and player safety issues that have been publicized. Previous posts have highlighted the point that working on skills as a kid, creates scenarios for repetition. This allows for these activities to become habit and instinctual. When you learn to run properly, you don’t think about it, you just do it. The same goes for walking, throwing a football, and even how to properly tackle. Our very own SquadFusion user Shellie Nichols of the The Hill Country Cowboys points out that while the concerns over letting kids play football are valid, the issues can be avoided by playing youth football.

Youth football is the perfect time to begin learning how to tackle properly, and put into habit the proper method. In other words, youth football is the time to create that instinct of safe tackling, and other fundamentals. Skills like how to block without injuring yourself or others, how to slide as quarterback, how to defend a wide receiver without hurting yourself are skills that even the pros struggle with. The knock on many top college quarterbacks and current pros, is that they struggle to slide. They end up taking more hits than they need too. Youth sports is the time to practice these skills, and having everyone learn at an early age will eventually make the game safer. This takes more than just fundamentals, but it is a great place to start.

A Quick Look at Football Eras

In the past, the game was about defense, running the ball, and throwing as balance to running. That required knowing how to block, properly, how to attack space while running, and many other basic skills. That has evolved into creating opportunities to throw, and highlight the changing athletes in the game. It is no secret that athletes are faster, stronger, and rules are more encouraging of scoring. There is a proper way to play in these conditions and having your fundamentals down is the best way to adapt.

Basketball

Basketball fundamentals in Youth Sports
Image from CBSsports

Transitioning from football, to another one of my favorite sports, basketball. One of the most basic things you learn as a kid is to balance on the balls of your feet instead of on your toes. When many think of basketball, they think of shooting, whether it be 3s or layups. Markelle Fultz has been a storyline in the NBA for his well documented shooting struggles, looking like he forgot how to shoot. Many forget that he was a pretty good shooter in college, but the need to shoot 3s has forced him to forget his fundamentals of shooting.

A great example of balance is Klay Thompson. As he runs off screens or into space his balance is almost perfect, his feet are aligned to where the basket is, and all he has to do is jump straight up and release the ball as he always has. With Markelle, his feet are not balanced or aligned, and his hands are doing different things each time he shoots. These ideas of balance, shooting technique, and alignment are all things you work on when you start playing basketball at the youth level, but they get lost sometimes when a guy is just bigger an faster than everyone else. It is important for coaches and parents to emphasize the fundamentals.

A Quick Look at Basketball Eras

The game before used to be a lot of feed the tall guy in the lane, and that required balance, vision, and proper passing technique. Now, the game as turned into run to the three point line, a lot of motion and quick passing to create three point shooting opportunities. Analytics have come in and made it so people would rather take a 3 than a 2. The balance you learn as a kid is what is important to adapting to the changing game.

Baseball

A quick look at baseball now. A common joke about the eras of baseball is that back in the days of Babe Ruth, guys used to smoke cigarettes in between innings, and eat very unhealthy. It goes without saying that the pace of play, the type of athletes playing, have changed. A clear example is of the biggest star of early baseball, Babe Ruth, and today’s superstar Aaron Judge, and how they differ. Aaron Judge, like many hitters today, are homerun or strikeout players.

athletic scheduling software
Image from the Baltimore Sun

As guys get stronger they power the ball, but only hit in one direction. Let’s put aside if that is good for the game or not, and if the shift is good for the game or not. (The shift is when fielders move to one side of the field and force the hitter to hit to the gap, but they instead try to hit the ball over the heads of all the fielders) The skill of hitting to the opposite field is lost, but the fundamentals, pitching, balance while hitting, and catching, all haven’t changed. Some things about the game change, but the basics don’t. Lets look at pitching, more and more injuries in their elbows are coming up, as the focus is on high velocity pitching. Another change in the game that relies on tightening up the fundamentals.

Beyond Youth Sports

Apart from in the sports, fundamentals have a great impact in healthy living. I have highlighted in past posts about the need for a healthier life style. It makes sense to think that it is easier to keep eating healthy, if as a kids, thats the focus. If you are taught early on to stay hydrated and active, it is easier to continue that. They say to not lift with your back, but is easier to practice when you don’t have to think about it. This is why youth sports participation is so important, because fundamentals are important.

It is much easier to adapt when you have less to worry about. Fundamentals, and understanding their importance, can be applied to education and other areas of life. The youth sports level is the best time to hone in on fundamentals because it gives the most time to transition those habits into instinct.

Like with everything, success isn’t just in properly learning the fundamentals, it is in the support around you. At the youth sports level, it is so important for parents and coaches to encourage the benefits of youth sports in all aspects of life, not just in success in the field of play. Youth sports are more than just wins and losses and personal performance, they are another way to expose kids to skills that can assist in many aspects of life.

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The Long-Term Impacts of Youth Sports Participation

The Long-Term Impacts of Youth Sports Participation

In the current climate of school, tests, and college prep, youth sports amongst other activities have taken a back seat. Youth sports are seen as a distraction to the educational grind in some families. Increasing in communities nationwide amongst kids and adults alike is the level of competition for opportunities. Parents, justifiably, have been enrolling kids in various educational classes and standardized test prep classes. Education is the highest priority for kids, as it should be, but there is a need for youth sports.

My former teachers always recommended doing some type of school related work during the summer, because the time away leads to a loss of focus and practice in what is taught in school. This time off forces teachers to spend a majority of time early in the school year to review time. On the part of students, coming back to school becomes rough because the demands of adjusting to a routine of going to school.

Youth sports is the fact that youth sports give kids exposure to skills that greatly help in school. According to an article on campusexplorer.com, college admission officials heavily consider time management skills, as well as the ability to set and work towards achieving goals, as big plusses in an application. The qualities are instilled while participating in and continuing with youth sports.

basketball league management software - youth sports

Image source linked here.

The Intangibles

Apart from time management, other benefits of team sports exist that aren’t talked about as much. As pointed out in muhealth.org, (University of Missouri) team sports at any level require effective communication, teamwork, and problem solving. Especially true during tough situations during games to try and pull out a win. Becoming better in a sport requires the interest in learning, repetition for practice and improvement, and adaptation to various game conditions. Awareness and adaptability are hard to teach, but youth sports are a unique place to practice those skills. The application of these skills are greatly valuable in future jobs, college admissions, and picking up new concepts in school.

Getting exposed to team sports as a child gives more time to pick up skills like these and put them into habit. This can correlate to success in school. More importantly, especially at the youth level, seeing your hard work yield results or positive individual performance can reinforce the idea that hard work can pay off. A consequence of this can be higher self-esteem and a familiarity with this feeling that can greatly help in incentivizing putting in effort in school.

baseball league management software

Image source linked here

Real World Benefits of Youth Sports

It is widely pointed out that exercising is a great way to ease tension and stress. In my own life, I used workouts I learned as a kid. The habits I developed while playing youth sports paid dividends in my ability to adapt and cope with my homesickness during college in a different part of the country. An added benefit was that playing sports was a great way to meet new people, and take your mind off things.

Apart from adapting to tough situations, former student athletes tend to display more leadership characteristics and self-confidence. This creates a better chance to have an impact in a working environment, according to a Cornell professors study highlighted in Ithaca.com. It was also found that former student athletes tend to earn higher salaries. The National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS.org) highlights that students who participate in athletics tend to perform better academically than peers who don’t participate in athletic activities. They specifically highlight school attendance, time on homework, and educational aspirations. They also point out how participation in multiple sports greatly benefits kids especially as they are developing physically and educationally. Building on that, some theories highlighted above return. Participation in extracurricular activities, especially sports, are linked to better cognitive functioning.

Some Data

Their follow up study showed that students who participate in two sports have higher GPA’s than those that only play one sport, and the same goes for those that participate in three over two and one. This also applies to graduation rates according to the study by NFHS. Those participating in three, two, or one sport graduate at a higher rate than on athletes. A study conducted at Northwest Missouri University show that the mean GPA for athletes was 3.25, while for non-athletes was 3.01, and the median was 3.35 vs 3.15. While GPA isn’t the only measure of success, it is one that colleges analyze.

All in all, participating in sports from a young age has more benefits than meet the eye. Getting exposure to skills that translate to college and beyond is a great benefit. The opportunity to put those skills into practice and turn them into habits is a substantially beneficial one. Creating good habits at a young age means more time to see the rewards of those habits. More time also makes it harder and harder to lose those habits as well. As they say, old habits die hard. Actively engaging in sports at a young age, regardless of wins and losses, create those habits. Crucially, encouragement and support go a long way in making the learning process easier, whether it be in school or in sports.

game scheduling software

Image linked here.

References

1. https://www.campusexplorer.com/college-advice-tips/C4AA9344/Sports-and-College-Admissions/

2. https://www.muhealth.org/conditions-treatments/pediatrics/adolescent-medicine/benefits-of-sports

3. https://www.ithaca.com/sports/study-finds-long-term-effect-of-high-school-sports/article_ac5b03de-0d00-11e4-a564-001a4bcf887a.html

4. https://www.nfhs.org/media/868994/ws26-gimbert-sawyer.pdf

5. http://www.nwmissouri.edu/library/ResearchPapers/2012/Stegall,%20Ryan.pdf

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Sportsmanship’s Different Forms

During the US Open, ESPN did and interview with Roger Federer, after a match he won. The interviewer, John McEnroe, observed that Federer, when the result seemed inevitable, began playing a bit differently. He pointed out that Federer was experimenting during the game with different shots than he would normally play. He transitioned into a question of sportsmanship.

McEnroe compared Federer’s match to another tennis player, Nick Kyrgios, who gave the impression that he didn’t seem to care about a match he played. It’s not just in tennis. I thought about other sports where respect for an opponent came into question. It got me thinking about sportsmanship and the examples professionals set for kids.

League Administration

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Role models

Ultra-famous athletes such as Kobe Bryant, Roger Federer, Cristiano Ronaldo, Zlatan Ibrahimović, and Bryce Harper, are role models to kids. Kids mimic their favorite players however they can.

Growing up, I played lots of basketball and my favorite player was Steve Nash. I tried to shoot free throws, pass, dribble, and act like he did. Other kids probably imagined last second shots while saying, “KOBEEEEE!”

These days, kids shoot from farther and farther away like Steph Curry. They dance and and celebrate after made shots. They try to cross over other kids like James Harden and stare them down before shooting. On one hand, that can be seen as a player trying their best and getting caught up in the moment, but it could be seen as disrespect.

league payment software

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Cristiano Ronaldo’s critics say he’s arrogant. They point to times when he doesn’t celebrate with his team when someone else scores a goal. As if he is annoyed he didn’t score it. His supporters say it just shows his passion. Others say it demonstrates his arrogance. Regardless, how people perceive actions is subjective.

War and sports

Many sports use violent metaphors: go for the kill, be ruthless, it’s a battle, this is all-out war, etc. War is a violent aspect of society which leads to many well-documented problems. With the higher stakes of war and battles, you can’t regard opponents the same as a fight for sport, not to mention even less violent contests.

So is war the right mentality for a sport at young ages? Of course not, to any extreme. Most coaches and parents will tell you education and taking care of one’s self are more important. But they do not always act as if that’s true. They use the same metaphors as professional athletes and coaches.

In fairness, parents and coaches may do this to emulate how the pros get in the best mindset to perform their best. This type of talk motivates and brings the best out of professionals.

Kobe Bryant’s so-called, “Mamba Mentality” expresses the idea when playing, you have to be ruthless to be best. You could say the need to play hard and with intensity, at your best, is a form of respect.

On and off the court

Professional athletes talk about how they are different on their field or court than in real life. Whether this idea of separating how you act while playing and how you act outside the game is right or wrong is a separate debate.

For kids, their attention is on professional athletes during their games for the most part. This is where they see their actions and mimic them. Parents and coaches have a big role in making sportsmanship become a habit on AND off the court.

Conduct outside the field of play is starting to get some more airtime. Not only does television cover more off-field activity, but players’ own social media highlights it. Actions such as jersey swapping, where players of opposite teams sign their game worn jerseys and exchange them, get more notice. We need more of this, and these actions must be emphasized and given the positive credit they deserve.

soccer league management software

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Broader implications

Sportsmanship is a habit. The sooner you start acting with it, the better. However, what one sees as being a good sport, others can perceive differently. It is a tough line to navigate as parent, coach, or role model.

I can’t say what is right or wrong in how to deal with this. There is something to be said for not worrying about what others say.

I can say is that sportsmanship takes many forms due to perception. Being aware of that, and acting based on how you would want to be treated, can go a long way. For me, being a good sport meant always having respect for those around you and treating others the way you would want to be treated.

The job for parents, coaches, role models, and mentors, is tough. But there are plenty of examples of great sportsmanship to expose kids to. The goal is to explore these topics of how to treat others and understand what consequences actions can have. Hopefully it goes a long way in a society where bullying is so prominent.

Being a good sport, encouraging others for being themselves can be a factor of this. All in all, the goal is to have kids enjoy what they do, on the court/field, in the classroom, or anywhere, and sportsmanship, and by extension respect, goes a long way in making this possible.

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A Quick Look at Technology, Sports, and Progress

We now do some amazing things with technology the size of the top of a pin. In sports commentary, a big topic is the impact of technology on sports. In many sports, one discussion is how reviews cause long delays, slowing down the game and killing the momentum for one team or providing the opportunity to regroup and come back into the game. Many see this as the cost of making sure the correct call is made, while others see the process of making the right call ruining the flow of the game. Regardless of where you stand, technology is here to change sports.

Most recently, the VAR system (video assistant referee) was utilized in the World Cup and generated many controversies. In the match between Argentina and Nigeria, Nigeria was in the midst of taking the lead, generating immense pressure. There was a play the Nigerian players believed was a penalty. Their captain successfully implored the referee to take a second look at the play. The review yielded that there was no foul. Until this point, Nigeria was coming back from a goal down, managed to tie it up, and was threatening to take the lead. They wanted to get the penalty, but the time away and the right call of no penalty led to a loss in momentum. Argentina then piled on the counter-pressure and eventually scored to win the game. Throughout the World Cup, phrases like clear and obvious error were thrown around.

The meaning of this is basically that there would only be a change or a review if there was an error the referee missed that they shouldn’t have missed. If there is any sort of gray area in a call, any sort of reasonable doubt, then the call made by the referee is accepted. The concern here is that a lot of times, the review doesn’t yield the right call. The review is used to defend the referee, and if there is reasonable doubt in the review, then the referee’s call stands. A sense of a lack of regard for the correct decision is what concerns many.

Sports League Administration App
Image from NBA and NBC Sports: Link

This isn’t the first place this idea came about. In one of my favorite sports, cricket, technology enables more accuracy in saying whether a batsman is out. The India cricket board was against using the system citing that the system wasn’t foolproof, and the reliance on correcting an umpire’s mistake rather than go for the right call annoyed many in the board. The NBA saw this too, and only use their review system in the last two minutes of a game, the time where they feel missed calls make or break a game, and therefore is the only time that is worth slowing the game down for. The NFL had its own controversy with this too, with many debating their catch rule, where replays would lead to ruling catches as non-catches, and leading many spectators to question what a catch even is. Tennis, (and cricket) uses Hawkeye technology to see if a ball landed on or off the line in the form of a player challenge.

sports league app
Image from: Playbuzz: link

Technology is a constantly evolving entity, and the best way to keep up with it and get the most of technology is to keep using it, embracing it, and working through any kinks, hands on. The goal is to take advantage of technology by building from the mistakes of past iterations and past methodologies. That is a key benefit of SquadFusion. It is a software and a system that looked at how other software and other ways of doing things created issues and left areas unaddressed. This led to the development of a better system.

Technology is all about learning from the past and addressing unmet needs and making processes easier and more efficient. Technology is here to make things easier. The wheel was technology, which helped in many ways and got better with iterations. The best technologies are built on the failures and unmet needs or gaps left by previous technologies. The horse-drawn carriage became the cars we see today. Rowboats were replaced by steam-powered boats that didn’t have to rely on the direction of the tides, and the list goes on and on. In sports, the review systems, online administrative tools, and other forms of technological aids all build off the past. Unlike review systems, administrative software is not in its infancy, nor is it perfect. But there has been room for growth and room for adaptability, which SquadFusion provides. This technology adapts to the changing needs of league managers, parents, and coaches. It has learned from past software and continues learning from current demands and anticipating the future.

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Fast Food and Youth Sports

Over the past few decades, a defining aspect of American culture has risen and impacted the country in negative ways: fast food culture. The convenience, speed, and time-saving values of the fast food industry and especially the drive-through have been well chronicled, along with the negative effects on health and activity. In California, there are ads about getting active. A kid calls his grandma in the house to come to his room just to grab the remote for him from the table in front of him. While that is supposed to be an exaggerated example, some may say that it’s actually not. All our technology has made it so humans are required to do less and less. Coupled with this is the reliance on mobile devices. According to a British study quoted in a Huffington Post article, the action of looking at your phone, even for just a couple of seconds, is becoming habitual. People are spending more and more time on their phones, about a third of their day, according to this study1. Take my own life as an example. I work with a computer and my breaks and any idle time are filled with looking at my phone. Many of my coworkers do the same.

Obesity rates in children have been on the rise, a key reason why former First Lady Michele Obama advocated for and implemented campaigns for kids to eat healthier and get more active.

Sports League Management App
image from the Obama white house

Being overweight/obese leads to many health risks, such as high blood pressure leading to heart complications, diabetes, bone problems, fungal infections, and acne, as pointed out by WebMD2.  At the same time, we have seen a rise in popularity of eSports, games like League of Legends and Fortnight, and their popularity in social media. An article in the Guardian points out that in Britain, a child gets their first cell phone around 12 years old. And one in ten of kids gets a phone by the age of five! It is astonishing that they are building the habits of phone dependency at that age. This same article cites a study stating in America, only 29% of high school students are active for an hour a day. That is the supposed minimum amount, also referenced in campaigns like the NFL’s Play60, referring to an hour of play a day. The Obama Whitehouse’s Let’s Move campaign also states that an hour a day is the minimum.

There is a need to get more active, and sports is a great way to do that.

The benefits of playing organized team sports cannot be stated enough. The first, obvious one is getting active. Organized sports also provide the opportunity to get involved in structure, a routine of practice and games, getting used to play with a group and building teamwork. These are well known, but many reports like the Physical Activity Council’s show while participation overall is not doing too bad, rates seem to be flattening. More importantly, how they play is changing. There is a difference between going for an hour walk versus an hour of jogging/running. Playing an organized game of basketball is a different level of activity than just shooting around. According to this report, 17% of 6 to 12 year-olds were inactive, a 5% decrease from just the previous year.

sports management platform
Physical Activity Council Participation Report

From the chart above, inactivity rates are going down overall, which is great progress, especially with kids (under 18). The goal is to continue to get kids to adopt better habits with eating and staying active. Team sports is a great way to go. Kids become accustomed to playing sports and staying active, forming a habit that hopefully lasts for a long time. Living healthy, staying active, and eating properly can be hard to pick up. Starting early and developing good habits at a young age increases the odds of those habits lasting and to generations becoming healthier and living longer. The foundation is laid with participation in youth sports and activities.

References

  1. https://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/smartphone-usage-estimates_us_5637687de4b063179912dc96
  2. https://www.webmd.com/children/guide/obesity-children#1
  3. https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/technology-inactive-lifestyle-changing-children
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Sports and the Need for Organization

If we needed to use a few words to describe the 21st century, some words that come to mind are efficiency, convenience, and speed. Basically, accomplishing tasks properly with the least number of steps. Faster cars, more fuel-efficient cars, faster, thinner, and cheaper tech, better and more user-friendly apps, phones that can do more than laptops of old. The list can go on and on. That is the overall theme, but how about in sports?

The first thought here about the changes in sports may be with regards to styles of play. With the World Cup, we see soccer is getting faster. There is smarter movement and creative formations and roles due to the ability to specialize. We see the influence of other sports. On corner kicks and free kicks, we see a lot of football and basketball movements, creating space with pretty much moving screens, hand checking, flopping, and quick movements and changes of pace dominating movement on the pitch.  In the last edition, the Dutch national team during their penalty shootout substituted their goalkeeper who played the entire game for another, who has a better record saving penalty kicks. Of all things you could call the move, random isn’t one of them. Preparation is a part of every sport, especially at the pro level. Scouting, talent evaluators, are finding ways to quantify and get a leg up on their competition by completely understanding their opponents. The other team, in this case Costa Rica, had to adjust to a new goalkeeper, who has tendencies to protect a certain side and has a different skill set. Which requires a different skill set to adjust. Costa Rica was unable to adjust. That level of decision making requires an organization which allows for a coach to focus on knowing their players’ games inside out and do what he is paid to do, which is coach and get the best out of his players.

The most recent World Cup didn’t see as many bold decisions to this degree, other than if you are aware of the organizational chaos in the Argentinian team. Argentina was in the World Cup final in 2014. Now, they made it into the knockout stage after relying on other results, and not taking care of business against Iceland, and not being up to play against Croatia. Since 2010, Argentina has had 5 coaches. Their current coach, Jorge Sampaoli, has changed his starting lineup in every single game he has been the manager for. The Argentine federation is known to be cash-strapped, with there even being reports that Lionel Messi who some consider the best player in the world and maybe ever, had to pay the salaries out of his pocket of the support staff. The lack of organizational stability has also caused new players to come in and out, and senior players like Messi announced their retirement, and then came back with the hope of a new coach, only for that to be left up in the air again now with Argentina’s elimination. Players and coaches can only do so much. Allowing the players to focus all of their energy on playing, and picking the right coach to bring the best out of the players is a duty for the organization. An unstable organization cannot execute as needed to produce results.

A great representation of organizational stability and player talent coming together is the Spanish national team. Winning the UEFA Euro’s in 2008 and 2012, and winning the World Cup in between in 2010. Their “golden generation” with great coaching and crucially, organizational stability, were able to enjoy a great run of success. How did it end? Stability was taken away. The coach in 2014 was unable to adapt to teams figuring their style out. The organization failed to do its job in adapting and growing with the style of the play. Then in this most recent world cup, they fired their coach two days before their tournament opener. The theme here is the importance of organizational stability and efficiency. With the example of Argentina, a lack of efficiency and trust have left their football in a state of disarray. Meanwhile, Spain’s stability, trust, and efficiency garnered them a huge success, but a small disruption in that trust and efficiency and a failure on the part of the organization to stay ahead of the curve led to poor results the past couple tournaments. Administrative burdens have hurt teams and leagues whether professional or amateur.

International competition is a useful example, but this principle can be applied to the leagues kids participate in as well. As league managers and parents, there is an expectation that the focus of youth sports should be on the kids growing because of playing the sports they chose to play. Having administrative hurdles takes away from that focus, and creates a need for organizational stability and efficiency so that the focus of coaches and organizers can be on the kids.  SquadFusion provides the resources for your organization to efficiently organize practices and games, get players registered and organized into teams, collect and manage payment methods and plans, and provide peace of mind for parents, coaches and league managers so that they can focus on bringing the best out of their players and produce results.  Just like most things in the 21st Century, efficiency, trust, and convenience, and speed of getting set up are key, and SquadFusion provides that opportunity, in a one-stop shop experience. In this day in age, efficiency, convenience and simplicity aren’t just needed, they are demanded, and SquadFusion delivers.

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Setting up a website, custom registration, and payment collection in under 10 minutes

We here at SquadFusion often talk about how easy and fast it is for our customers to manage their websites and all the membership administration we provide. We’re proud of the work we put into the application so … Read More

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