Sports Unlimited

6 Aug

There have been many times I have driven home from work wanting to find some kind of athletic distraction to release the stress from a busy day. If I were a fan of solitary activities this would be no problem; I would put on a pair of running shoes and go for a jog, or hike. But the reality is I crave competition and need a team as well as a facility to compete at. I don’t have the kind of schedule that allows me to commit to teams or clubs, but there are definitely days when I wish I knew more soccer players I could meet up with, as well as a place to play.

Sports Unlimited is an iPhone and Android application. It would help athletes to connect and take advantage of the free resources around them, while enjoying friendly competition on a day to day basis. It will facilitate the coordination of events by individuals, teams, and after-school groups. It is the intent of Sports Unlimited to encourage physical activity as well as team engagement in athletes of all levels from the most advanced to beginners of all ages and demographics. This would be considered a productivity application because it would allow users to go through selection criteria to complete a task.

Currently was only one application I could find that serves a similar purpose of connecting athletes with one-another for pickup games, called “Pickup Sports” but it has many issues. First of all, when I attempted to download the app on an iPhone it said that it was not compatible with that version. Specifically, it read: “This application requires the iPhone 4.0 software update.” The owner of the phone confirmed that his version was up to date, so I’m not sure what happened there.

When I downloaded the app on my Android I was immediately forced to register. This, for me, was an obstacle and was not beneficial to the conversion funnel that needs to be optimized, especially in a free application. My information is a commodity, and I want to be convinced that the service I am getting is worth signing up for before I am prompted to do so. The second issue I had with this app is that the next screen asks you to “Enter a Location” but within the field box the word location is spelled “locatin.” I know that’s likely a minor issue for most, but to me it seems unprofessional and makes me want to look for a more reliable resource, and makes me a little concerned that I just gave out my private information to get this far.

The third issue I had with Pickup Sports was that I had to search for games by location, not by sport. I searched for Redmond, WA looking for a soccer match. Nothing came up, so I was willing to go out of the city. But at that point since I couldn’t search by sport I was forced to look up every city around me individually and search for soccer in a list of all sports in the area. Sports Unlimited would resolve this issue by facilitating “search by city” for those who just want to get our there as well as a “search by sport” feature for those who know exactly what they want to do.

It may sound like Sports Unlimited is doing a lot by including all types of sports as well as a booking and listing feature; but in reality all that information can be simplified to work in a small, user friendly interface. The top of the screen would read “Find Your Game” with three basic icons just below it with an option to view the games already signed up for as well as a “register as a member” option at the bottom. The benefits of registering would be the option to book and/or sign up for games on the application itself, as well as a tracking feature that would track where you have played before. Anyone could view the local games and venues without registering, but they would not be able to confirm a spot on a specific team or location.

The three icons at the top of the screen would be “By Sport” “By City” and “By Age.” Selecting any of these icons would prompt a search window that would ultimately take the user to a list of local games that are occurring within the week. Once the list populates it would include those that fit the selection criteria as well as “Open Listings” that would have various venues that have not been claimed under that criteria. If a user selects an open field listing it would prompt an option to book the venue and add it to the listing of current games on the application. If the user selects a game to participate in the app would provide the option to confirm participation as well as provide the specific address of the venue so it can be copied into Google Navigation or a similar system.

Ultimately, it would be awesome to work in conjunction with Google Navigation so that the app would automatically provide an icon to direct the user to a venue by the touch of a finger. With users below iOS 4.0 the Sports Unlimited Application would quit, but that’s ok because at that point the user has already confirmed participation in a game. For users with updated versions both applications could multitask (run at the same time).

While the root of this application would be smartphone-based, it would also be a hybrid of sorts by hosting options to share information with other web applications. For example, on the confirmation screen there would be an option to share your signup with people via Facebook and/or Twitter. In addition, this application would also have dedicated group Facebook and Twitter Pages to share open venues and games needing more participants.

This application will be free. The profit will come from advertising likely rooting in local sporting goods stores and youth centers. There would also be a referral program, for example, if someone is recommended to a center that charges for memberships, like say Arena Sports, a fee may also be paid in accordance with the size of the package purchased (much like how a travel website works when taking fees from hotels and airlines).

The information on the site would be mainly user generated, but the open venues would be provided by the city (Parks, Fields, Courts, etc.) as well as private parties, for example we could partner with venues that normally charge for access to provide free game nights for users. It would give both parties exposure at minimal cost. Sports Unlimited is an application that answers the needs of busy athletes everywhere as well as people who are just looking to get out and try something new.

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