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LEAGUENET WORK.COM

THE MAGAZINE FOR BETTER LEAGUES, BETTER LIVES

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Where 50.000 North American YLMs Youth League Managers in 21 Team Sports LEARN, CONNECT, SAVE MONEY & GROW! IT’S FREE!

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ue To p 10 Le a g nt M anag em e Sy ste m s

5 Crisis “Magic Moves” 3 ANTI-THEFT SECRETS

How YLMs spend $11 billion

Running Youth Leagues with

FAMOUS FOUNDERS

Matt Leinart

Why 1,100 YLMS have gone to jail – How to stay safe.

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THE LEAGUE NETWORK FOUNDING TEAM

LEAGUE NETWORK FOUNDING TEAM

the

olina Panthers (2005), and Dallas Cowboys (2005-6). He also played for the Canadian Football League’s Calgary Stampeders (2007) and Arena Football League’s Los Angeles Avengers (2008). JR earned his BBA in Business Administration and IT from San Diego State University where he earned All-American honors.

LEAGUE NETWORK MAGAZINE The voice of North America’s Youth League Managers Better Leagues, Better Lives™

Founder: Anne-Sophie Whitehead Publisher & Editor: Jay Whitehead

Anne-Sophie Whitehead, Founder Anne-Sophie Whitehead founded League Network based on her 14 years’ experience as Trustee and Treasurer of New Jersey’s 6-sport Mountain Top League. Anne-Sophie has 15 years’ experience as Chief Marketing Officer, co-founder and director of B2B media and service firms, including Winning Media, Triathlete Magazine, Outsourcing Today, EmployeeService.com, SharedXpertise Media, Corporate Responsibility Magazine and the American Distilling Institute/Distilling.com. Anne-Sophie earned her MBA in International Business from Catholic University of Louvain (Belgium) and her BA in International Business Marketing from Institut Commercial Nancy (France).

Community Leader: Gregory “JR” Tolver

Jay Whitehead, Co-Founder. President & Publisher Jay Whitehead sports parent of 3, marathon runner with 71 finishes, and a serial media and business technology entrepreneur who has founded and led 12 B2B media companies in North America, Europe and Asia. Jay has raised $100+ million in investment capital, generated $450+ million in sponsorships for his media companies, raised $10 million for 104 charities and realized 5 liquidity events. Jay earned a BA in History from UCLA, and a Strategic Finance certificate from the Harvard Business School.

Digital Marketing: Erik Adamonis Art Director: Ian Friedel Contributors: Leigh Steinberg, James Lincoln, Richard Adamonis, Mariel Concepcion Interns: Tim Coleman, Ruta Vetra, Mohamed Bendari, Osa Isevbuwa, Riley Walsh Cover Photo Credit: Jackie Nam Legal Representatives: Fox Rothschild Elizabeth Sigety partner. Accountants: Eisner Amper, Alan Wink partner.

Erik Adamonis, Gregory “JR” Tolver, Co-Founder, Community Engagement Leader JR Tolver brings 8 years’ entrepreneurial experience to League Network as Founder of Global Green Enterprises. In parallel, JR served for 5 years as Director of Boy’s Athletics at Sage Hill School in Southern California. Prior to that, JR played 4 years for the National Football League’s Miami Dolphins (2003-4), Car-

Digital Marketer Erik Adamonis built League Network’s original digital marketing assets. Erik is certified in Inbound media marketing and social selling, and has deep experience building modern B2B social and digital marketing, media and sales campaigns. Erik earned his BA in communications and marketing from Ramapo College in New Jersey.

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Published by League Network PBC, NJIT EDC, 211 Warren Street, Newark, NJ 07103, LeagueNetwork.com. Printed in the U.S.A. by Shweiki Media ISSN Number Applied For All contents copyright 2016 League Network PBC. Contents cannot be used or otherwise reproduced without written permission from League Network PBC.


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FOUNDER LETTER

I remember the day.

We had just moved to the New Jersey suburbs from the West Coast. A sweltering August. School was not even in session, and a neighbor had told me about the local sports league. My little boy (now a college freshman and league coach), was excited to start soccer and kindergarten. The registration form was simple, and at the end, a check box called all to volunteer. Though I had played soccer most Sundays as a child, I wasn’t sure about coaching. But I could do spreadsheets. The box looked innocent enough. Checking it started a 15-year love affair with youth sports. Soon, the call came, from a Trustee named Marlon, whose family, like many others, would become lifelong friends; “Congratulations! How does “Commissioner” sound? It’s mostly computer stuff and calls to coaches”. What I did not anticipate - and Marlon conveniently forgot to mention - were the countless hours sorting and handing out uniforms and trophies, garage and cars overflowing with equipment, weekends consumed by games where our own kids weren’t playing, early morning checking on cold, soggy fields, late nights cleaning up gyms after a championship, miles walked and driven, long meetings and hundreds of phone calls and emails that are necessary to make a league run. More important, no one had prepared me for the days standing on a field, greeting coaches and parents who had become friends, watching kids beam a smile, for a new jersey or a point scored, and the pride felt knowing that we are all part of a greater mission. No one had warned me that for the rest of my life, I could pass a little league game, far away from home, and feel exactly what the parents, coaches, and league managers are feeling. In many ways, this is a universal, unifying experience. On those days, I can still see the check box in my mind. And I’m thankful that I did not shy away from it. As I grew into many subsequent league and Executive Board roles, I came to realize that my professional life in media, had prepared me to detect a glaring void. Like my other clients, our leagues; yours, mine - tens of thousands of them all over the country - are small businesses. Yet we are not given the tools and knowledge to run them as such. The effects on leagues are often devastating: embezzlements, dangerous conditions, non-compliance, closures, and volunteer flight. Youth sports have many benefits for children and young adults. Benefits that will carry them through a lifetime: better grades, boost in self-esteem and confidence, teamwork and self-discipline at work, health. Leagues are a vital part of a healthy, vibrant community. League Network’s mission is to help leagues thrive. By offering easy access to tools and reliable, up to date information, we help Youth Leagues Managers run a leaner, more secure and more efficient league, and allow more participation, at a lower cost. Our motto is “Better Leagues, Better Lives”. I am one of you. Except I was given the chance to take my passion for youth sports a little farther than the fields and the courts. So I founded League Network for you. And I’d like to hear from you. Email me any time at AnneSophie@LeagueNetwork.com. Together we are building a community. Join us. Welcome to League Network.

Anne–Sophie, Founder

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the table of

CONTENTS VOLU M E 1, I S S U E 1, S U M M E R / FA L L 2 016 Published by League Network, a Public Benefit Corporation, from its headquarters in Newark, NJ.

LEARN

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CONNECT

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The Business of Soccer Showcases and Tournaments

YLM Profile—Peter Scalora

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LeagueNetwork Live in San Diego

Crisis in Your League

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How to Use LeagueNetwork

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Big Money Meets Youth Sports

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Governing Body Buzz-Phrases

SAVE

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Non-Profit vs. For Profit

GROW

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Show Me the Money

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Youth Sports Innovator Rod Dixon

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USA City Games

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YLM Profile—Lewis Clinch

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A Sports Agent’s Surprising View on Youth Sports—Leigh Steinberg

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Cover Story: The Gift of the Curse, Meet the YLMs of Two Leagues with Famous Founders.

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Why Better Leagues Make Better Lives

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The Man Behind the Mask—The Man Who Saved Baseball, the Inventor of the Catcher’s Mask

You Might be a YLM When… A Comedy Routine for YLMs

The Youth Sports Theft Epidemic

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Insuring Your League

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Screening Reality

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LN Top 10—The Top 10 League Management Systems Ranked by the Editors of League Network

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Discover more about how to use LeagueNetwork to make better leagues and better lives at www.LeagueNetwork.com.


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YLM PROFILE PETER SCALORA

Peter Scalora, President Your Youth League: Mountain Top League Your League’s Website: www.mountaintopleague.com Town Name: West Orange, NJ Your League’s Sport(s): Basketball, Baseball, Rec Soccer, Travel Soccer, Softball, Ice Hockey Number of Players in Your League: 3,100 Your League’s Annual Budget: $490,000 Non-profit or for-profit? Non-profit

YOUR STORY: How and when did you first get involved in your league? I have been involved in Mountain Top League since I was 6. I’m 48 now. That makes 42 years of continuous involvement. I literally grew up in this youth league. My friend’s dad was my first coach. And I never appreciated what hard work it was to run the league until I did it myself. I started as a travel soccer trustee for 6 years, then I joined the Executive Board. Sports you played as a youth? Soccer, Baseball, Basketball, and Football Favorite part of being a YLM? It’s a thrill to witness the progress you see in a youth sports program. For example, start on the first day of basic girls’ softball. It’s disorganized and the players have zero skills. Then quickly, the team and players start getting competitive. Eventually, the team and league start running like a finely tuned engine. We took softball over from the town’s recreation department, which is run by paid administrators. When our group of volunteers

took the sport over, our focus was on making it better, on putting a better product on the field and making it run much more smoothly. We wanted to do it better. It was the pride of us volunteers versus the guys paid by the town. And we succeeded. Even though we’re unpaid, we met the increasing expectation of parents. We did it well. And we’ve had such a huge impact on the kids—they got better as a team and individuals because of us. Least favorite part of being a YLM? Dealing with people who just don’t get the process. It’s not about whether your kid is the star of the game or hits a homer. Youth sports is about a kid’s development in life. People who are in it for the glory are in it for the wrong reason. Also, I am fighting against sports specialization, which I think is leading to the demise of the youth sports movement. Kids need to experience multiple sports. One thing you would change about your league? Would love for the league to be fully funded, so everyone plays

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for free. While we give some scholarships, to do more would require a lot more fundraising, which I find really hard. Some kids just don’t sign up because it costs money. Proudest moment as a YLM so far? It was recently during our annual tournament. My 3 kids, who are now 17, 15 and 12, all played in the league. But on that day, they were not playing, they were all volunteers. They were paying it forward. That moment transcended the sport, it was life coming full circle. I knew at that moment that I had planted the youth league manager seed in all of them, and the seed was taking root. Best single piece of advice for other YLMs? You must have an open mind and remain focused on the long term, what’s good for the league and the future of sports in your community. Not about who wins today’s game. Sports personality you most admire? My Mountain Top League colleague Steve Quirk. He’s not a sport celebrity. He’s just someone you can count on to do anything for the league, any time. He’s the epitome of what youth sports is about. Favorite team? The New Jersey Devils of the National Hockey League. Hockey is the ultimate team sport. No single player is ever dominant. And the players are unassuming, unlike other pro sports.


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LIVE IN SAN DIEGO

League Network will hold 4 more live events online in 2016. See the “Free Webinar” button on www.LeagueNetwork.com to register, and help shape the future of your league.

LeagueNetwork Founder Anne-Sophie Whitehead

LeagueNetwork Co-Founder and Publisher Jay Whitehead

What are your biggest League Management Challenges? 87% Fundraising & Budgeting 28% Parents 26% Finding fields & courts 23% Recruiting volunteers 21% Learning league management best practices 12% Crisis management 8%

Some of the 90 San Diego-area YLMs gathered for LeagueNetwork’s launch

League Network Live in San Diego Does “Better leagues, better lives” play well in SoCal? 90 YLMs say “you go, dudes!” BY JAY WHITEHEAD

Safety

When you buy products and services for your league, what are your top priorities? 88% Best and fastest service 16% Lowest price 14% (Tie) Ability to give advice & largest selection 7% Local presence

How many YLMs are there in your league (includes everyone who can make buying and policy decisions)? 63% 1 to 5 15% 11 to 15 13% 21 or more 9% 16 to 20

How much does your youth league spend each year? 48% $750,000 to $1,000,000

LeagueNetwork Co-Founder JR Tolver

29% Don’t really know 13% Under $100,000 5% $500,000 to $750,000 5% $100,000 to $250,000

Which fundraising methods does your league use now? 38% Food sales (e.g., candy or beef jerky) 29% Team and uniform sponsorships

San Diegans have a well-earned reputation for being too laid-back. Yet, when it comes to youth sports, there are few places quite as intense. Yearround good weather, densely-populated and diverse communities, beach-body image consciousness, and a competitive-sports-obsessed culture make San Diego a youth league hotbed. That youth league intensity, (plus the coincidence that Co-Founder JR Tolver was a San Diego State All-American and NFL fifth-rounder who played for the Dolphins, Cowboys, and Panthers), helped us decide to hold our launch event at the San Diego Hall of Champions April 7, 2016. We assembled 90 YLMs, representing 11 sports: tackle football, basketball, flag football, soccer, softball, baseball, volleyball, lacrosse, track and field, and rugby. After we fed and watered them, we asked them to respond to real-time polls. Here are the major results of our live survey. Note: Percentages can add to more than 100% for multiple-answer questions.

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13% Banquets and auctions 11% Crowdfunding donations 9% Direct donations & other

How many players in your youth league? 59% Under 500 19% 1,000 to 2,000 13% 501 to 999 9% 3,000 or more

What are the age ranges of players in your youth league? 63% 5 to 18 years old 15% 5 to 10 13% 10 to 14 9% 14 to 18


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© 2016 Pro Performance Sports, LLC


THE BUSINESS SOCCER SHOWCASES & TOURNAMENTS

The Business of Soccer Showcases and Tournaments BY ERIK ADAMONIS The business of tournaments and showcases looks attractive, with per-team fees over $1000, hundreds of teams, and dozens of sponsors and on-site vendor revenues. But as it turns out, all that upside also comes with truckloads of downside. Listening to the questions they ask themselves, soccer tournament and showcase organizers sound paranoid. “What if we held a showcase and nobody came?” “What if someone gets taken hostage?” “If we have a swarm of bees, does anyone have an epi-pen?” “Is anyone tracking sexual predators?” “Did you hear that new food vendor has cases of food poisoning?” “Did anyone verify that seizure kid is carrying his meds?” “Can we check teams for weapons?” “Do we kick that team out since their credit card payment failed, twice?” “Can cops remove a player with force if we verify he falsified his age?” Maybe these dark questions are only asked in New Jersey, where LeagueNetwork toured several large tournaments and showcases. Sure, New Jersey folks over-share. But the same challenges are faced by tourney folks nationwide. Brunswick, NJ-based Eastern Development Program (EDP) Soccer is an experienced showcase and tournament operator in the northeast. Bohdan Porytko runs the show. For the March, 2016 showcase we visited in Hammonton, NJ, 320 teams on 35 fields participated in the weekend showcase. Accommodated on the sprawling grounds of the Tuckahoe Turf Farm, one of the largest grass growers in the East, 60% of the teams came from New Jersey, 20% from Pennsylvania, 10% New York, with a smattering of participation from Delaware, Maryland, Virginia, Connecticut, Rhode Island, Maine, Ontario, and even a couple from the UK.

EDP Showcase leader Bohdan Porytko in Hammonton, NJ March 2016.

Food vendor revenues can add up to 9% of total tournament or showcase revenues.

While some operators refuse food revenues to keep prices low or attract certain vendors, others manage food service as a profit center.

Sponsors can represent 15% or more of tournament revenues, and provide priceless marketing support.

35-field diagram for a Spring 2016 youth soccer showcase.

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“Our first showcase was in 2000 on the grounds of the Army base at Fort Dix,” Porytko explains. “We started out running a league, Mid Atlantic Premier Soccer, or MAPS. Now we also have 4 college showcases for U15 to U19. And we have 25 permanent staff. For tournaments we’ll employ 140 referees, and a significant number of operating personnel for parking and other logistics.” SportNgin handles EDP’s registrations. Veterans of 20 years on the league’s 17-person volunteer board and 25-person tournament committee, Mike Hammer and Manalapan League President Ted Giovanneillo run the annual 400-team Memorial Day soccer tournament, the region’s largest. The volunteer-run tournament has been successful enough to fund the purchase of a turf field, portable lights, a large assortment of safety equipment, and $10,000 of annual player scholarships. GotSoccer handles Manalapan’s registrations. “What’s distinctive about us is the time and attention we pay to scheduling,” Hammer explains. “Some coaches handle three teams simultaneously, so we try to be intensely accommodating. We get it right 85% of the time, which is a big deal.” Hammer also credits his experience running the league with enabling him to run his business, The Sports Zone, a local indoor sports facility. “Our experience with safety and planning is second to none,” says President Ted Giovanneillo. “In 2001, we even had a tornado on Sunday afternoon of the tournament. Fortunately, it happened later in the day so there were fewer teams out. We cleared the fields with the rain falling sideways. There were no casualties.” Hammer adds, “We’re always thinking ‘what if?’ We’re never too far from a weather radar, and never out of range of our radios.” While both EDP and the Manalapan League are 501(c)3 non-profits, EDP’s fulltime professional approach has allowed it to scale its activities region-wide and fund Soccer For All, providing soccer programming for free to youth players. Other than the Memorial Day tournament that serves teams from 6 states, Manalapan’s League activities are limited to serving players in the 30-square-mile, 39,000-citizen township. And while the two organizations have different focuses, the motivations of the leaders of both organizations are remarkably similar. Manalapan’s Hammer and Giovanneillo both “bleed red and white,” the League’s colors. “We’ve volunteered ridiculous hours and paid close attention to detail for all these years for two reasons,” Giovanneillo says. “Loving the kids, and loving the clubs. That’s what everyone needs to remember.” Bohdan Porytko agrees. “We only succeed if our showcases provide a real service to our players, help them go to the next level, whatever that is for them” he says. “Our dedication is to serve. Serving means getting the details right, teams, refs, fields, coaches, signage. When we stop serving, teams and leagues will stop coming.”

Attention to safety details such as marking tent pegs holds down tournament accident and insurance costs

Tournament leaders Mike Hammer and Ted Giovaneillo in Manalapan, NJ May 2016.

With events staged on more than 3 fields, tournament directors list “poor signage” as the #1 complaint among teams, players and parents.

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YOUTH SPORTS INNOVATOR ROD DIXON

New Zealander and 1972 Olympic Bronze medalist Rod Dixon wins the 1983 New York Marathon in the closest finish in the race’s history.

Youth Sports Innovator Rod Dixon Do you know 5-2-1-0?

tems from Arizona (Phoenix) to Connecticut (Danbury, Trumball, Glastonbury, Waterbury, Waterford and Torrington) to California (Los Angeles and Inland Empire) to Aukland, New Zealand. Since starting in the US in 2004, over 125,000 kids have participated. The program centers on running 25.2 miles in 3-mile week segments over 8 to 10 weeks, and then completing the last mile of the 26.2 mile “marathon’s” before cheering crowds of hundreds or thousands of teachers, students and family members. The KiDSMARATHON story starts in 1960, when Sir Edmund Hillary, first man to climb Mount Everest and New Zealand’s most famous citizen, visited Rod Dixon’s elementary school. Young Dixon promised the six-footfour-inch Hillary that one day he would win an Olympic medal. After winning in 1972, Dixon visited Hillary. “He made me promise to use the medal to inspire future generations,” Dixon recalled. Later, Dixon was called to help his hometown save its lo-

cal school from closure due to budget cuts. Dixon organized schoolkids within a 50 mile radius to run 3 miles weekly for 8 weeks, capped off by a 3k run in his home town that finished a “marathon.” The large turnout saved the school. He formally launched in New Zealand in 1990, then the US in 2004, organizing one elementary school at a time. “Connecticut started with 100 kids,” Dixon recalls, “and now has over 10,000 kids in 9 regions and 70 schools. We’re so efficient, we can run programs for under $10 per kid.” Among Dixon’s more successful grads is Julian Matthews, a New Zealand 1500 meters entrant in the 2016 World Championships and Olympics. “My biggest challenge is that I only have 24 hours a day, and there’s only one of me,” Dixon says. “And if I had to do it over again, I would have stressed nutrition earlier.” Dixon now teaches the 5-2-1-0 daily nutrition/activity formula, which is 5 fruits and vegetables, maximum 2 hours of screen time, 1 hour of activity and zero sugary drinks. “I’m following Michele Obama’s lead,” he says. Dixon says the future of KiDSMARATHON hangs on three developments, a K-5 tool kit, certification for organizers (University of Colorado is helping him) and a high school leadership program (Young President’s Organization or YPO is giving him a hand). “I’m aiming to build an organization that can outrun me.”

BY JAY WHITEHEAD When New Zealand running legend Rod Dixon visits, he brings his 1972 Olympic 1500 meter bronze medal. When he leaves, he often forgets the bronze disk. But somehow, it always finds its way home. “It’s round because it’s meant to go ‘round,” says Dixon with a Kiwi lilt. Rod Dixon won the closest-ever New York Marathon, in 1983. The finish photo is cherished by marathoners worldwide (including this writer…it’s helped inspire me to 71 marathon finishes). Today, Rod Dixon runs his KiDSMARATHON programs for elementary-school-aged kids in public school sys-

After running their 26.2 miles “marathons” in 3 miles per week over 8 to 10 weeks, these 4th through 6th graders in Chino Hills, California finished with a final mile, then proudly displayed their finisher’s certificates with Dixon.

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CRISIS IN YOUR LEAGUE

What will you do when that unexpected controversy hits your league?

Crisis in Your Youth League? The 5 things to do when your league gets punched in the mouth. BY JAY WHITEHEAD WARNING: THIS SCENARIO IS BASED ON ACTUAL EVENTS. THIS COULD HAPPEN TO YOU AND YOUR LEAGUE. You have recently become the President of your local youth league. You have big plans: fundraising, add a new league management app, grow the ice hockey and summer basketball programs, start a scholarship for that new group of Mideast refugee kids with mad soccer skills. Then on Thursday morning, you see the local newspaper online and in print. The headline reads: “Draft scandal rocks League.” You think it has something to do with the NFL or NBA or your local college team. But wait, the name of YOUR league is in the headline. One of YOUR league’s basketball coaches is accusing the league

of violating its own rules. According to the coach, a couple young players skipped the annual “draft” to place players on teams. When a league trustee, also a coach, realized the pair had paid to play but had no team, he thought he’d do everyone a favor by placing them on his team. Later, the trustee’s team won the championship. Then the losing coach, convinced his beat was a cheat, goes to the newspaper with photos and witness accounts. A molehill becomes a mountain, a PR crisis. The blood rushes to your brain. Your ears feel hot. You pull out your phone and start looking up the phone numbers of your league trustees. You start thinking about what to say to them. Then reality slaps you hard. The texts come crashing in, one after the other, like storm waves. “What the heck do want to do about that draft screw up?” “Remember Prez, you wanted this job. Careful what you wish for, you might just get it.” And then this: “Mr. President, when I volunteered to serve on the league board, you told me it would be fun and rewarding. Never in my wildest dreams did I think we would cheat. I quit.” Your phone rings, and it’s the league’s volunteer lawyer. “So should we sue the

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paper?” she asks. “Should I go to my friend the judge to get a restraining order on that crazy basketball coach?” The accused trustee who won the championship calls. “This just proves that no good deed goes unpunished.” Then the mayor calls. “I can’t believe you let this get out of hand,” she says. “How can a volunteer basketball coach of middle schoolers create this much havoc? Can’t you give both teams trophies and make everyone happy? The mayors of neighboring towns think we’re clowns.” Your mind flashes on boxer Mike Tyson’s famous quote: “Everybody has a plan until they get punched in the mouth.” But hey, you tell yourself, I’ve dealt with tougher stuff than this. That health crisis, that career nightmare, that car accident. When I resuscitated that kid who stopped breathing after getting beaned in that baseball game.

A Crisis is a Terrible Thing to Waste Then you remember economist Paul Romers’ words “A crisis is a terrible thing to waste.” You can turn this lemon into lemonade. Fix this mess. Be a real leader. Set the table for the YLM that will take over when you leave office.


2. Find facts In a crisis, everybody seeks the authority, the adult. In the case of a league crisis, that’s you as the YLM. And you now have a few hours or a couple days to discover the truth and build a plan. Ask the right questions of the right people to get to the bottom of the story, fast. Why didn’t those kids go through the regular draft process? Were there scheduling or financial need issues involved? Did your trustee-coach violate any written policies or have any ill intent in placing those kids on his team? Is there an email or document trail? If so, where are they and can you get your hands on them fast? Where did the newspaper reporter get his or her information? Is the coach-accuser open to a conversation?

ter, Instagram, Snapchat, or via your league’s League Management System, or LMS. This makes your job much different than when your dad or mom ran their leagues. Many more people can reach you 24X7. So pick the electronic communication means with which you’re most comfortable, and respond actively. But stick to your “holding statement” until you are ready to roll out your whole plan for dealing with the crisis. Remember, any angry outbursts by you will live on forever in the electronic world. Cool is the rule. 4. The 3 point rule. When you roll out your plan, crisis managers agree that the best plans have no more than three points. First, second, third. That’s it. If it’s more than three

“give us the weekend to get the facts assembled, and we’ll be back with you by 9am on Monday.” Post it on the league website. Send it out as a text or email. Once the holding statement is out there, you are back in charge. A “holding statement” does the same thing as when a basketball coach jumps off the bench and calls time out. It slows the game down and gives you a little time to take control. It’s clock management, just like a football two-minute drill.

Do your co-trustees have any information that would help? Once you discover the facts, you’ll have to make some decisions about which facts are real, which are fabrications. Sometimes things are not black and white, but your league needs you to make the situation clearer. 3. Manage social media, be available and never lose your temper. Today, most or all of youth league communications are electronic--in email, text, Facebook message, Twit-

points, you don’t have control. So work the plan until it’s three points max. 5. You can never please everybody. YLMs agree on the one criteria by which you will be judged on your crisis management: Did you protect the integrity of your league and the safety of its kids? That is the only standard that matters. As for those grumpy critics who refuse to be pleased? Ask them if they would like to volunteer to run for your job at the end of your term. Turnabout is fair play.

Reddit

But how? What are the secret go-to moves? Here are what experienced crisis managers and YLMs tell LeagueNetwork Magazine are their five fixes. 1. Own it, even if it sucks—and get your “holding statement” out fast. “Owning it” means taking responsibility to solve the crisis, publicly and rapidly. Even if it wasn’t your fault or reflects negatively on you or the league, stepping forward to fix the problem is your job as a YLM. The first thing you do to take charge of a crisis is to immediately issue what professional crisis managers call a “holding statement.” Examples include: “I have assembled a team to get to the bottom of this, and we’ll have a plan to tell you about tomorrow morning at 10am” or

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NON-PROFIT OR FOR-PROFIT

Is being non-profit always Plan A for youth leagues?

Non - Profit or For- Profit?

or can borrow (but with more difficulty than for-profits), but can’t have “investors.” Instead, non-profits need “donors” who can never get their money back or earn a financial return, which limits their access to capital to buy facilities. The third is the rapid professionalization of youth sports, the “4th dimension” of America’s sports economy. League managers, athletic directors and coaches in the first 3 dimensions, pro, college, and high school are trained, experienced, certified, professionalized and paid (some paid very well). By contrast, in youth, 79% of league managers and coaches are untrained, uncertified and unpaid. But parents and players in youth sports are now applying much more pressure on leagues to provide “elite” levels of training and competition, in preparation for high school team selections and the ever-alluring potential of college scholarships. To meet these ever-higher demands, more and more leagues are realizing that only if they are for-profit can they attract the right talent. As gonzo journalist Hunter S. Thompson wrote, “When the going gets weird, the weird go pro.” And the fourth reason is that even though non-profits pay no taxes, there are still large penalties for not filing your non-profit tax form 990 by the end of the 5th month following your fiscal year-end. In fact, if your non-profit is under $1 million a year, the penalty is $20 a day or a max of $10,000, and if you’re $1+ million, it’s $100 a day or a max of $50,000. The IRS reports that on any given month, about 65%, or two-thirds of the ~60,000 registered non-profit youth leagues are late or have filed incorrectly. And then there’s the “death penalty” for not filing on-time three years in a row: the automatic revocation of your tax-exempt status. Paying no taxes does indeed come with a price. One final note: Based on the experience of those league manager who have done it, converting a non-profit league into a for-profit entity is a relatively simple path. The reverse trip, from for-profit to tax-exempt, is a rougher trip.

What are the 4 reasons non-profit leagues are increasingly becoming for-profit? BY JAY WHITEHEAD Any knucklehead knows that the main difference between a non-profit youth league and a for-profit is that the non-profit pays no taxes, while the for-profit pays 30% or more of its profits. For the 84% of youth leagues who are non-profit, being taxfree is Plan A, the only way to go. But for the 16% that are for-profit, paying no taxes is too high a price to pay. Plan B, for-profit, is a plan with more and more fans. And for four good reasons. First is that only for-profit leagues can distribute residual income, aka profits, to the folks who control the organization. While non-profits can pay reasonable wages, league managers cannot pocket “profits.” Profits are the result of a “non-related business activity,” and is the reason many non-profits lose their tax-exempt status. For the thousands of leagues who are run by committed volunteers, being non-profit keeps everyone exclusively focused on charitable activities. But every year, a growing number of league managers think that volunteering is over-rated. Instead, they argue, the profits the league makes should rightly flow to the people who run the league well. Second is the limited supply and increasing demand for youth sports facilities—fields, courts, gyms, tracks and pools—which has driven many entrepreneurs to raise money to buy their own facilities. For-profits have access to investors who can own a portion of the company or facility, or can borrow money from a large variety of sources. Non-profits with cash can buy facilities,

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HOW TO USE LEAGUENETWORK

LeagueNetwork was invented in the home town of phonograph and light bulb inventor Thomas Edison.

How to Use Use League Network to Learn, Connect, Save by Buying Smart and Grow via Fundraising. BYANNE-SOPHIE WHITEHEAD

League Network was invented in West Orange, NJ, the home of Thomas Edison, the inventor with 1,093 patents including the light bulb, commercial electricity, telegraph, phonograph, and cinema. On how his process, Edison famously said, “I find out what the world needs. Then I go ahead and try to invent it.” League Network found out what YLMs need, then invented it: one place to Learn, Connect, Save by Buying Smart and Grow via Fundraising. Here’s how to use League Network. Everything League Network does, web and mobile site, magazine, live events and LeagueGrowth fundraising, has been designed by YLMs for YLMS, to give you the 4 things you cannot now find in one place: Learn, Connect, Save by Buying Smart, and Grow via Fundraising. You can subscribe to League Network at 3 levels: Free (good), Preferred (better) and Premium (best). Check all three levels out by clicking “Join Now” on the menu bar. All 3 subscriber levels get access to the Save by Buying Smart Buyer’s Guide (available August, 2016) which features over 1,500 product and service

The LeagueNetwork.com web and mobile site is your one-stop for all LeagueNetwork’s Learn, Connect, Save and Grow content. The Save by Buying Smart Buyer’s Guide goes live in August, 2016 and will be found on the menu bar between “Connect” and “Grow.”

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providers of the 22 types bought by YLMs. For $45/year, Preferred subscribers get access to 3 online fundraising programs, limited access to our Connect database of North American YLMs in 21 team sports, and Preferred content. For $299/year, premium subscribers get access to LeagueGrowth assisted fundraising where your league can raise up to $50,000 with help from our pro athlete Success Consultants for no up-front fees, full access to our Connect database of North American YLMs in 21 team sports, and Premium-quality content. Learn Here’s what YLMs told League Network: “We need to make our league better, to serve more kids, to offer more sports, but where do we go to find out how to make that happen?” League Network’s “Learn” tab is where you find text, downloadable, streaming, and video content for all 3 types of subscribers--free, Preferred, and Premium. At least 20 topics are featured, including: League Management Best Practices in Finance, League Management Systems, HR and Volunteer Management, Legal, Crisis Management, Insurance and Risk, Training and Coaching, National Governing Bodies, Sporting Goods and Uniforms, Awards, Safety Equipment, LN Top 10 Lists ranking products and services in the 22 categories that YLMs buy, Sports Technology, Media, and more. Connect “Here’s what YLMs told us: “I need to connect with other YLMs in other areas and across all my sports, but where could I find a single contact list?” Before League Network, there was no single database of YLMs in 21 team sports in North America. It took thousands of human-hours to build and maintain, but now that list is available to Preferred and Premium subscribers of League Network. So now, all you need to do to connect with another YLM is to find him or her in the League Network database, and connect via phone or

email. Great for networking, arranging tournaments, practices, scheduling fields and logistics, and discovering best practices. Click on “Join Now” if you are not already a Preferred or Premium subscriber to get the access you need. Save by Buying Smart Here’s what YLMs told us they need: “We need to buy that for the league, but nobody here knows where or how to shop for it.” In 2015, YLMs directly spent $11 billion on 22 types of products and services. Starting in August, 2016, all League Network subscribers of all levels can click on the “Save” tab and access the League Network Buyer’s Guide. It’s the only place you can get detailed information, solicit RFPs and comparison shop from the 1,500+ providers in 22 categories of products and services your league buys. Grow via Fundraising Here’s what YLMs told us they need: “We can’t do that because it would require fundraising, and we’d need somebody to do it, because nobody here wants to.” LeagueGrowth™ is League Network’s fundraising organization. If you are a

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Preferred subscriber, you can access 3 passive fundraising types: Spirit Packs, Photography and Product Sales. If you are a Premium subscriber, you can raise up to $50,000 with no up-front fee with the assistance of one of our former pro athlete Success Consultant, who uses one or more of several methods to raise the money you need, using one or more of the “Assisted Fundraising” tools shown on the diagram below, working closely with one of our Success Consultants, who former pro athletes who know how to get you funded. League Network earns a market-rate fee on the money you raise, but there are never any upfront charges. League Network only succeeds if your league does. Here is a diagram of the LeagueGrowth™ Fundraising Process, which all starts when you contact League Network with a request to have us help you raise money: So, whether you are visiting League Network to Learn, Connect, Save or Grow, welcome. We are looking forward to a long and beautiful “better leagues, better lives™” relationship.


INSURING YOUR LEAGUE fortable with the risk. As soon as AIG bowed out, K&K rushed in to provide Pop Warner up to $2 million policies, including coverage for head trauma. Should you be worried if you are buying insurance for girls’ soccer, since there is some evidence that concussion levels there are as high as tackle football? Our how about girls’ lacrosse, which starting next year will require headgear because there have been many reported concussions? Or baseball, where pitchers and batters regularly get beaned? The short answer is: probably. Truth is, insurance companies make money when premiums exceed overhead and payouts. And payouts come in several flavors. One flavor is legitimate claims, such as when someone holding a life insurance policy dies. Another is fraud, as in when someone fakes a car accident to get the insurance payment. And yet another is the cost to defend lawsuits, which come in far greater numbers when public outrage about a topic rises—exactly what is happening now with CTE and “concussion-omics.” As a youth league manager, you are spending somewhere between 5% and 9% of your annual budget on insurance premiums. If you are like most, you have four types of coverage: i) accident to pay medical bills for injuries, ii) general liability to cover lawsuits and property damage, iii) Director & Officers (aka D&O) to cover mismanagement, and iv) crime to cover embezzlement or theft. Chances are that you are buying 40% or more of your insurance coverage through one of the national governing body (NGB) plans, such as those offered by AYSO or Little League. As a rule, the insurers and brokers selling the NGB policies are paying the NGB, which, like AARP, often earn more on insurance fees than they do from membership dues. But if you are a larger or multi-sport league, you may also have one or more policies from a broker such as K&K or Sadler or another company such as Philadelphia Insurance. While pricing is now often “banded” by sport and priced on a per-participant basis, buying youth sports league coverage is still pretty complicated. Unfortunate ly, no insurance company is now offering simple direct-to league policies in the same way you can now buy car insurance online. Still, league managers like you need to know that “concussion- omics” will cause a hike in your premiums and a change your carrier or policy. Stay tuned to League Network.com for new opportunities to buy better coverage for your league.

“Concussion-omics” are changing youth sports insurance.

“Concussion - omics” What happens when big insurers like AIG cut off the NFL and Pop Warner? BY JAY WHITEHEAD Today, buying insurance for youth football may seem like the African proverb, “when elephants fight, the grass dies.” In June, 2016, the New York Post reported the $61 billion insurance giant AIG dumped the NFL, saying it would not write any more policies. Clearly, AIG is trying to avoid any part of the $1+ billion lawsuit liability from the players suing the NFL for knowingly withholding what it knew about the damaging effects of head trauma. AIG wants to force the NFL to pay the bill, and not have to share the tab. Strangely, while maintaining its coverage for USA Football’s Heads-Up Football program and its 2016 Protection Tour for 7- to 14-year-old players, AIG also pulled its coverage for Pop Warner, which is not, as far as we know, facing a huge NFL-type lawsuit from former players. What’s going on? Is AIG’s action “concussion-omics,” a tactic to avoid the liability associated with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) by claiming it would never have covered the NFL if it knew what the NFL knew about CTE? After all, AIG’s competitor Aon, through its subsidiary K&K Insurance, seems to be com-

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Philadelphia Insurance Companies insures millions of individual participants in various sports leagues throughout the United States. Philadelphia Insurance Companies (PHLY) is a national commercial property and professional liability insurance carrier specializing in coverage for the sport and recreation industries, including amateur sports, camps and leagues, fitness facilities, and fitness instructors.

A.M.Best A++ Rating Ward’s Top 50 2001-2015 96% Claims Satisfaction 100+ Niche Industries

Call 855.411.0797 or visit

ThinkPHLYSports.com

Philadelphia Insurance Companies is the marketing name for the property and casualty insurance operations of Philadelphia Consolidated Holding Corp., a member of Tokio Marine Group. All admitted coverages are written by Philadelphia Indemnity Insurance Company. Coverages are subject to actual policy language.

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USA CITY GAMES

USA City Games: The Next Generation of the Watts Summer Games Historic inner-city youth games being reinvented by Hollywood, coming soon to a stadium near you BY JAY WHITEHEAD How do you reinvent a legendary youth tournament? Hollywood sports and entertainment producers Billy Frank and Don Janklow think they know how. This is their story of shaping the half-century-old Watts Summer Games into a new classic: What soon could be America’s most famous nationwide multisport tournament for inner city youth, launching Father’s Day 2017. They call it USA City Games™. In the last half of the last century, the Watts Summer Games became a must-attend tourney for Southern California’s best youth athletes, club and league managers. Famous 15-to-18year-old participants included NFL great John Elway, WNBA superstar and three-time Olympic gold medalist Lisa Leslie, Los Angeles Lakers stars Byron Scott and Michael Cooper, late great San Diego Padre base baller Tony Gwynn, Olympic gold medalist and world’s fastest woman Florence Griffith Joyner, Olympic track and field medalist Valerie Brisco Hooks, LA Galaxy star Jose Villareal, ESPN TV and radio personality Marcellus Wiley.

1968 Watts Game

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1968 Watts Game

The Games, hosted by the Los Angeles Junior Chamber of Commerce, were invented to heal racial tensions from the 1965 Watts riots in South Central Los Angeles. The first games, called the Watts Junior Olympics, attracted 150 participants in three sports. A year later the U.S. Olympic

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1980 Watts Games, basketball, soccer, cheer

With her championship team WNBA’s Lisa Leslie Watts Games

1988 Watts Game

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Committee forced the Games to drop the word “Olympic,” and the Watts Summer Games were born. By 1978, the Games had grown to 10,000 high-school-age participants, and added cheerleading. Over 48 years, the annual Games served an estimated 300,000 athletes from diverse

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1998 Watts Game

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socio-economic and ethnic backgrounds, and were supported by a tight group of LA-based corporate sponsors. The Games Credo was said by every player before every game: “I will- Play fair. Respect my opponent. Win with Integrity. Lose with dignity. Above all, pursue the game with honor.”


The Games’ three values, Respect, Integrity and Dignity, buoyed the tournament as it grew over four decades. And its success bred imitators. The Watts Games inspired two entire generations of sports tournament organizers in basketball, lacrosse, soccer, cheerleading, track, baseball and softball to stage competing events. By 2014, the L.A. Junior Chamber of Commerce, with limited resources and facing brutal competition for sponsors and facilities, decided it was time to focus on new projects. The Watts Games were orphaned. But Hollywood show business producers know the sound of a cue when they hear it. So when Make It Happen Productions head Billy Frank, a producer for TV networks, movie studios, record companies, corporations and the Olympic Games, who won silver in the 2013 Maccabi Games, heard that the Watts Games needed a new parent, he jumped. Frank brought on partner Don Janklow, who built the sponsorship practices for the 1984 Olympic Games, Los Angeles Marathon, New York Marathon, Indy 500, VF Corporation, Vera Wang, Lee Jeans, and personalities such as the Bee Gees, Joe Namath and comedian Andy Kaufman. Their vision: Create the most well-known branded nationwide inner-city multisport youth Games for 12to-15 and 15-to-18 age groups, employing the Games original Watts-accented tagline, “Connecting Youths. Changing Lives.”

Producer Billy Frank

Watts Games Track 1970

Watts Games Track 1990

the years, and the Games transformed them all in one way or another. For some, it was about learning to work as a team. For others, it was about winning well and losing well. And for others, it was the first time they met someone of a different color or socioeconomic class. The Games put everyone on the same field or court at the same time, in a way nothing else could do.” The USA Summer Games™ in 2017 Los Angeles will be an Olympic-style competition, with teams from multiple regions, with 15,000 student athletes competing in seven sports: Basketball, Softball, Football, Soccer, Lacrosse, youth obstacle racing and Track & Field events. The Games will feature twelve days of preliminary qualifying games at the University of Southern California, and at some of the 500+ City of Los Angeles Department of Recreation and Parks facilities. The Finals are set for June 16-18, 2017 (Father’s Day weekend) at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The fifteen days of competition, will also include educational and health and wellness events, including an 8-to-12 week after-school inner-city youth training program for the USA City Games™ led by the Games’ Official Olympian Coach and Olympic medalist and New York Marathon winner Rod Dixon.

Producer Don Janklow

After adding the 12-15 age range to better compete in the busy youth sports tournament market, the team’s next challenge was a new name. After a brief search, they decided on USA City Games™, and the site, USACityGames.org. Endorsements include LAUSD, California Interscholastic Foundation (CIF), and International Obstacle Racing Foundation (IORF), which adds a seventh sport to the games, Youth Obstacle Racing. “Our vision,” Frank and Janklow explain, “is to pay homage to the Watts Summer Games by positively impacting inner-city youth, families and communities. Our goal is to have the USA City Games™ in major cities both nationally and globally, and create an organization that sustains itself for another 50 years and beyond.” Janklow proudly displays the Watts Summer Games Credo banner, which first hung on a stadium wall in 1990. “I look at this banner every day and it sends chills down my spine,” Janklow says. “I think about the 300,000 kids who participated in the Games over

The Watts Games Credo 1990

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YLM PROFILE LEWIS CLINCH

YLM Profile: Lewis Clinch Your Name: Lewis Clinch Your Youth League: Pro Guard Development/ PGD Academy Your League’s Website: www.ProGuardDevelopment.com Town Name: Weston, FL (Broward County) Your League’s Sport(s): Basketball Number of Players in Your League: 150 male and female athletes Your League’s Annual Budget: $25,000, between tournament fees for 4 teams and equipment. Non-profit or for-profit? My non-profit PGD Academy is under development. My for-profit business is Pro Guard Development, LLC. It’s a basketball player development company. I help players from the ages of 7 all the way up to professional basketball players.

YOUR STORY How and when did you first get involved in your league? I played 4 years of basketball at Georgia Tech (05 - 09), then went on to play professional basketball. I started my career in the D -League with the Austin Spurs in (2010), then went on to play professionally overseas. I’ve played in Iceland, Japan, Israel, Puerto Rico and Dominican Republic. I remember being home and thinking back on Japan and how I had 6 to 8 of the players wanting me to take them through workouts after practice. That’s when it hit me that I should teach and develop players basketball skill set. In 1 year and 5 months of running Pro Guard Development I have 4 travel teams (6th, 8th, 9th and 10th), YMCA Basketball Academy for boys and girls. This summer PGD will host 8 weeks of camp.

Sports you played as a youth? Basketball, Football and Baseball Favorite part of being a YLM? I enjoy being a leader of the youth because I love advising and leading kids to being GREAT. Seeing kids have those breakthrough moments are the true gifts of being a YLM. Kids having trouble in school before training with PGD and then training with me and the Mom or Dad saying their son has improved their behavior or academics since working with me. I really enjoy hearing things like that because I’m constantly asking my players questions about grades and behavior at home. All things critical to success on and off the court. Least favorite part of being a YLM? It can be tough for parents to understand their child’s talent

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level while out on the basketball travel circuit. It’s very competitive and some of the players on the basketball travel circuit are very talented. Sometimes parents with no basketball experience give me coaching advice and or think that their son should be playing more. It’s tough to tell parents that their son needs a little more practice and development to get more playing time. Proudest moment as a YLM so far? Seeing people wear PGD apparel. It really makes me it clear that I’m running a small company and building a brand. Hearing parents and players represent PGD makes me feel good and inspires me to work harder at providing the best basketball player develop company in world. Best single piece of advice for other YLMs? Be great to your clients and they will be great to you! Work hard and believe in your brand. Sports personality you most admire? I really admire what Warrick Dunn has been able to do with building so many homes for families that are less fortunate. I would love to be able to do something along those lines in my community in Cordele, GA. Favorite team? Dallas Cowboys and L.A. Lakers


A SPORTS AGENT’S VIEW LEIGH STEINBERG

SPORTS AGENT LEIGH STEINBERG was the inspiration for the lead character in the Tom Cruise film Jerry Maguire. Over four decades Leigh has negotiated over $3 billion in contract deals representing premier athletes including Steve Young, Troy Aikman, Warren Moon, Bruce Smith, Thurman Thomas, Ben Roethlisberger, Erick Karros, Dusty Baker, John Starks, Lennox Lewis, & Oscar De la Hoya. He is the author of Winning with Integrity and The Agent.

Sports agent Leigh Steinberg

A Sports Agent ’s Surprising View on Youth Athletes By Leigh Steinberg Some years ago, my nine-year-old daughter Katie and her soccer team had just lost an elimination game in AYSO soccer. She was crying and looked distraught. I ran out on the field to console her and said “Don’t feel bad, you will have many more seasons to win”. She looked at me and said “I’m not crying because my team lost, Dad. I’m sad because I won’t get to see my friends on the team all the time”. In that moment I started to rethink the differential in parental perception and goals from that of their athletic children. The first involvement in youth sports, usually soccer can be a time of extraordinary empowerment for young people. It can also be a time that crushes self-esteem. This is the first experience in organized sports for children. It is the first time that they see real differences in comparative athletic talent. They may be on the same field with kids who have started a year or two late with

larger bodies and more developed skill sets. What is the goal in their participation? No one issues parents a driver’s license to advise their kids in their sports experience. Do we tell young people to be like young ”Vince Lombardi’s” and win at all costs, or is participation and having fun the key? When a child is not getting much playtime, playing a position they don’t like, the team is constantly losing, or they do not like the coach, what do we advise them to do? Be stoic, keep trying and learn character—or assert themselves and complain in an effort to improve their situation? Type A parents are intervening across the country with behavior that ranges from screaming criticism from the stands, to yelling at coaches, to physically attacking coaches and umpires. They worry about their own pride, because their child’s performance is a reflection on them, or insert adult ambi-

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tion or anger into the situation. Children may listen to parent’s admonitions, but more importantly they carefully watch how a parent acts. They may be uncomfortable or embarrassed by how their parent is behaving. Many kids quit youth sports because they don’t like the pressure and drama. Having represented professional athletes for forty years and watching how hyper-competitive athletes do everything to win but treasure the experience, win or lose, provided a certain perspective. I spent years hitting ground balls, throwing the football, and kicking the ball with my kids and rooted for them, but that was it. I just tried to support them. Unless I was willing to coach or referee myself, I kept my opinions to myself. I tried to always remember–this experience is for them, not me. They learn valuable life skills in sports—real life will provide years of competition soon enough.


BIG MONEY MEETS YOUTH SPORTS

The Sports Tech Gold Rush Meets Youth Sports Leagues BY GREGORY “JR” TOLVER In 2014 when the LeagueNetwork idea hatched, venture capital was just starting to find youth sports technology and media. Fitness applications such as Fitbit and MapMyRun, ticket platforms like Viagogo and SeatGeek and fantasy sports sites such as FanDuel and DraftKings found big investment money and customers. From then to now, over $2 billion has poured into sports tech and media, forever changing businesses such as league management systems (we rank LMS systems in this issue’s LN Top Ten). In April 2016, two sports-mad Harvard Business School students, Sparsh Agarwal and Varun Sanon, published The Sports Technology and Sports Media Venture Ecosystems. If you want to see their full report, go to LeagueNetwork. com and download the PDF (after you subscribe to LeagueNetwork.com for free). It covers investments in 12 types of companies, including the following 15 select companies that are youth sports-oriented:

COACHING/TR AINING CoachUp, Coach360, CoachTube, Sportsy, and Scout Force. FITNESS & COMPANION APPS MyFitnessPal, RunKeeper. MEDIA Whistle Sports, The Players Tribune MANAGEMENT TECH SportNgin, TeamSnap, LeagueApps SOCIAL & FAN ENGAGEMENT GameFace Media ANALYTICS Krossover, Hudl.

LeagueNetwork caught up with Sparsh and Varun before they left the Harvard campus for new jobs. We asked them about the impact of the new money on the lives of YLMs. LeagueNetwork: What would you say are the biggest impacts of this increase in investment and technology activity on youth sports leagues and people who manage the leagues, and why? Sparsh and Varun: We think this the increase in investment is fantastic for all levels of sports not just youth sports and youth sports leagues. Specifically, technology is enabling better decision making (e.g Krossover), increasing athlete career lifespans (e.g. smart-

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er recovery & injury prevention technologies), better athletic performance as a result, and making the league management process a lot more efficient (e.g LeagueApps, SportNgin, TeamSnap). When you apply these technologies at the youth level we believe you increase the bar of performance, create safer and longer careers of aspiring athletes and make the entire participation process much more engaging and efficient. LeagueNetwork: What inspired you to cover sports tech and media? Was it the fact that $2B in VC money has recently rushed into sports tech and media? Or something else? Sparsh and Varun: We share a passion for venture investing and were keen to study the space while ensuring that it overlapped with our areas of interest and expertise. While both of us share a passion for technology and sports, Sparsh worked in technology for Microsoft prior to Harvard and Varun founded and ran a sports start-up before coming to HBS. LeagueNetwork: Many youth sports experts say that the advent of eSports, Fantasy Sports, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR) technologies are negatively impacting young peoples’ participation in physical sports. Did your research turn up any evidence to support or debunk this theory? Sparsh and Varun: While we did not come across any evidence to debunk this theory we did not find any to support it either. Any new technology has its benefits and drawbacks, and it is important to think through both. We believe that while the advent of eSports, Fantasy Sports, VR & AR technologies may have some impact on youth participation in physical sports, we do not think the impact will be significant enough to take away from the appeal of physical sports. Further it should be noted that even eSports athletes have rigorous training regimens that involve physical, nutritional and mental training.


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SCREENING REALITY

Remember where you were when Subway spokesman Jared Fogle was arrested on child porn charges in July 2015? I do. I saw it on my phone at a youth soccer game. I immediately remembered two statistics: the average “seducer” molester victimizes 120 kids before he is caught, and for every serious incident reported, 10 go unreConvicted child sex offender Jared Fogle ported. Fogle came up again in June 2016, when a judge denied his argument that he was innocent because all he did was watch child porn supplied by the executive director of his foundation. Yeah, Jared, the very same executive director YOU HIRED. Remember the first time you heard about a big youth league theft? I do. I was fifteen, and it was the Little League in my home town, Carmel, California. Someone endangered the season by stealing $3,000 (it was 1974…$3,000 was Your best 2-point program to prevent abuse and theft from visiting big money then). There have been tens your league of thousands of youth league thefts since then and each one of them devastated BY JAY WHITEHEAD its league and community. What can you do to protect your league from Jareds and thieves? Background screening is a great start. Bebankruptcy or a 10-year-old drunk drivcause screening data availability from ing conviction? How does your league federal and state databases has imdraw the line, and what do you do with proved so much in the past five years, the information? After all, there is alyou can significantly cut your league’s ways the threat that by leaking somerisks by screening folks who haven’t been thing embarrassing, the league could previously screened. get sued. (Directors and Officers insurWhile screening is now better and ance coverage, aka “D&O,” often covfaster, it’s still politically complicated. ers lawsuit costs but not always.) You’re screening your friends and neighAnd youth league volunteer screenbors. Sure, if you find a serial check-thief ing is pricey, from $9 to $35 each time or a convicted sex offender, you saved you pull a report. That means that if your league from near-certain victimyou have 250 coaches and a board of ization. But what if what you discover is 20, that’s going to run you somewhere merely cringe-producing, like a missed between $2,430 and $9,450. That’s the child support payment or a personal cost of several teams’ tournament entry

Background Checking: Got a Jared Fogle on Your Team?

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fees, travel to those away games, or replacement of old equipment that’s damaged and dangerous. So what’s the best practice? Here is your 2-point short course. 1. Have your league decide to screen volunteers of certain types, including your board, once, then again at least annually for newcomers. Then, follow two basic rules: First, disclose to everyone (on you website, for example) that list you screen volunteers, and the offenses or findings that would disqualify an applicant or current volunteer. Second, collect the minimum amount of information necessary to accomplish the goal, and don’t keep the info around so it can be accidentally released. 2. Pick a background screening company. Starting August, 2016, on the LeagueNetwork.com Buyer’s Guide, you can pick from several dozen screening companies who serve youth leagues and volunteer organizations. In the meantime, check the National Association of Background Screeners, www.napbs.com. Stick with companies that confirm to the Fair Credit Reporting Act or FCRA, and who do both federal and local (at least state-level) checks. The services that may be satisfactory for your league offer “minimalist” screens, and example of which is the “red,” “green” scale. While not giving you the specific reason for the designation, these scales allow you to set the “red” level, or what is “unacceptable” for your league, such as a conviction for sexual molestation or financial theft or violence against a sports official. “Acceptable” or “green” would be everything else, the specifics of which are not shown on the reports to protect you and your league from inadvertent disclosure.


SHOW ME THE MONEY

lucky enough to have one or more people who were good at selling sponsorships, sponsored uniforms can generate considerable revenues. And for those who offered team photos, the photographer was almost always able to send a 5% to 15% commission check after he or she got paid. Since 2012, self-service internet-based providers have improved on these options. The new applications now include: crowdfunding, processing online spirit wear and uniform sponsorships, online event registrations, and automated donation-with-purchase solutions. But there’s still one problem with these newfangled self-service fundraising apps. They require a competent and committed operator, someone who is willing and able to invest quite a lot of energy on the project. Assisted Fundraising is Like Donuts As we show in the “Top 7 Ways Youth Sports Leagues Raise Money” chart on the next page, self-service is an option for each of these methods. Yes, you can now do all of these things yourself. But do you want to? One league manager we know says fundraising is like donuts. Sure, you can make donuts yourself if you have all the equipment and experience. But it’s much easier, faster, more reliable and cheaper to go to Dunkin’ or Krispie Kreme. Assisted fundraising he says, offers all the convenience of buying always-delicious donuts, rather than the pain of making them yourself. To answer the need for fundraising as reliable and accessible as Dunkin’ Donuts, we at LeagueNetwork created LeagueGrowth (www.leaguegrowth.com), the premier assisted fundraising service for youth league managers. Just as “America runs on Dunkin’,” our slogan might as well be “youth sports leagues run on LeagueGrowth.” LeagueGrowth is powered by a trained and technology-enabled team of Success Consultants. They are former pro athletes, led by LeagueNetwork co-founder, NFL veteran and high school athletic director JR Tolver. And they come equipped with a proven process and a set of free online tools that make the job of fundraising easy to manage, reliable and transparent. Your LeagueGrowth Success Consultant asks 9 questions to assess your fundraising needs, recommends a strategy for using one or more of the 6 top fundraising methods, then assists you in executing your campaigns expertly and quickly. LeagueGrowth charges a reasonable percent of the raise to assist you. Leagues get net funds deposited directly into your accounts, along with full transparency, COPPA compliance and data safety, and full reporting. Here are the 9 questions LeagueGrowth will ask you to begin your assisted fundraising campaign: 1. How much do you need to raise? LeagueGrowth campaigns are typically between $1,000 and $50,000, although the

LeagueGrowth is Youth Leagues’ Answer to “Show Me the Money!”

How to Raise $50,0 0 0 Fast So you need help to raise $1,000 to $50,000 in under 90 days? Tried LeagueGrowth? Your league needs $1,000 to $50,000 to balance your budget, cover fees for players unable to pay, buy equipment or cover travel or tournament costs? Join the crowd. Over 80% of youth leagues have budget shortfalls. What’s more, the 2015 Sports & Fitness Industry Association report confirms that youth sports participation is falling due to the high cost of participation. Want more players? Time to start fundraising. But none of your league managers want to fundraise. No surprise there. In live poll at LeagueNetwork’s April 2016 San Diego’s Hall of Champions launch, 87% of the 100 YLMs in attendance ranked fundraising as their #1 challenge. That was 3 times more than the #2 challenge, “difficult parents,” and 3.5 times more than #3, “scheduling fields and referees.” YLMs are in it because they want to help kids play, not to be fundraisers. And finding a fundraiser you can trust? That’s tough. Tough, that is, unless your fundraiser is the same as the media you trust to help you learn how to run your league better. From the late 1800s until today, leagues have fundraised pretty much the same way. The “gold standard” has always been the ‘event.” That means a banquet or a potluck, typically at the beginning or end of the season. And it often comes with a host of raffles, 50 -50 drawings, auctions, fashion shows, contests and tricky trays. Another old-school fundraiser is the product sale, where kids sell candy or cookies, with net proceeds going to the league. For those leagues

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THE TOP 7 WAYS YOUTH SPORTS LEAGUES RAISE MONEY, RANKED BY PERCENTAGE FINANCIAL YIELD TYPE

EXAMPLES

HOW IT WORKS

FINANCIAL NET YIELD AS % OF RAISE

DIFFICULTY

Crowdfunding

Self-serve: Kickstarter, GoFundMe, Facebook. com/fundraiser. Assisted: LeagueGrowth.com

Players, coaches raise funds from family, friends, supporting businesses online. Selfserve apps allow you to do the work. Assisted crowdfunding does a lot of the work for you and helps assure good results.

80% - 90%

High difficulty if self-serve, Low difficulty if crowdfunding is assisted by LeagueGrowth Success Consultants

Uniform Sponsorship

On-uniform name or logo placement from local businesses

Appliques or embroidered. Social media promotion can be included.

35%-70%

High if self-serve, Low if assisted

Product Sales

GameOn Jerky

Sales made by players to family and friends

25%-40%

High

Events

Banquets

Markup on food and beverage, can include raffles, contests, auctions, 50-50, tricky trays

20%-35%

High

Spirit Wear

Squadlocker

Brand-name non-uniform apparel with team logos

10%-20%

High if not automated, Low if automated

Team Photography

Sportography or TSS

Commission on team photos

7%-20%

Medium

Donation with Purchase

Flipcause, Dick’s, Starbucks

Coupon codes or gift cards generate 5%-10% commissions on store purchases

5%-10% on sales

Low

only practical limit on your raise is the size of your league’s participant base. 2. By when do you need to raise it? LeagueGrowth campaigns can be as short as a couple weeks, and as long as all-year. 3. Have you ever done fundraising in the past, and if so, what types and what were the results? If you’ve done something that was particularly successful or unsuccessful in the past, it is helpful to know. 4. In which geographic communities does your league operate? We can better assist you by understanding the nature of your communities. 5. What sports and seasons does your league cover? Different horses for different courses. 6. How many participants—including trustees, commissioners, coaches and players—are in your league? The limits of your fundraising capability are largely based on the size of your participant base.

7. Who will be in charge of the effort? Typically, LeagueGrowth will need one or two points of contact at your league to act as liaison. 8. Is your league a non-profit or for-profit organization? LeagueGrowth can help both types. Each type requires a different type of paperwork and reporting. 9. Is there anything else unique about your league that would help us help you raise more funds faster or better? Examples include: access to no-cost or low-cost prizes or awards for campaign participants, upcoming high-profile events in your league schedule, cause-based or charity-based campaign tie-ins, the availability of sponsor signs or scoreboard ad space at a field or a gym, etc. You can visit LeagueGrowth.com for more information on self-service and assisted fundraising, and how as a LeagueNetwork Preferred or Premium subscriber you can access LeagueGrowth services. You can also contact JR Tolver directly via email at JR@leaguenetwork.com.

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PLAYING THE FIELD

GOT A BUZZ-PHRASE THAT’S CONFUSING YOUR TEAM OF YLMS? Send it to Editor@LeagueNetwork.com, and we’ll put it in our next Governing Body BuzzPhrases Explained columns.

National Governing Body Buzz- Phrases Explained Where LeagueNetwork explains the latest sport national governing body or (NGB) proclamations covering youth sports best practices, protocols and certifications BY LEAGUE NETWORK’S EDITORS Bombarded with beaucoup buzz-phrases from your sport governing body? Need a quick primer? Here are a few recent phrases that YLMs have asked us at LeagueNetwork to summarize. USA Football: Heads Up Football Heads Up Football is a joint effort of USA Football Executive Director Scott Hallenbeck and NFL authorities including Dallas Cowboys EVP and Chair of the NFL Foundation Charlotte Jones Anderson to eliminate head trauma from youth football by teaching safe blocking, tackling, concussion and equipment management techniques.

The Heads Up program involves four steps: First, Heads Up Certification of Player Safety Coaches to serve a league. Second, the Player Safety Coach trains other coaches on how to keep players’ heads up and avoid use of the head in tackling and blocking. Third, the Player Safety Coach engages players, parents and coaches to reinforce the technique. And fourth, ongoing guidance in technique. More at USAfootball.com/headsup. Little League & USA Baseball: Baseball Bat Moratorium In 2011 Little League prohibited use

THE 6-STEP RTP PROTOCOL FOR CONCUSSIONS Step 1: No activity for recovery Step 2: Light aerobic exercise increased heart rate Step 3: Sport-specific exercise add movement Step 4: Non-contact training exercise, coordination, cognitive load Step 5: Full-contact practice restores athlete confidence and skills Step 6: Return to play

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of bats with barrels bigger than 2-1/4” or made with composite materials (not wood or aluminum or other metal) because the bats performed better than the level printed on the bat. 2-1/4” bats are tested in a lab for their BPF (Bat Performance Factor). The moratorium came in response to a rash of injuries to pitchers from balls batted by composite bats. A new set of bat performance testing rules will come into effect for the 2018 season. Little League & USA Baseball: Pitch Count Limits Pitchers must be removed from the game as a pitcher (they can take another position, except catcher if they throw more than 41 pitches) once they hit the pitch counts by age group: 17-18: 105 pitches/day 13-16: 95 11-12: 85 9-10: 75 7-8: 50 US Lacrosse: Girls Headgear Rules While girls cannot wear the same hard helmets that boys lacrosse teams wear, effective January 1, 2017, any field player choosing to wear headgear will only be allowed to wear headgear that meets the soft-helmet (ASTM F3137) standard for women’s lacrosse. The state of Florida now requires that girls wear soft helmets, and other states may follow suit. US Soccer Federation & AYSO: Heading the Ball In November 2015, the US Soccer Federation outlawed heading of the ball in games or practices for players 10 years or under, and players 11 to 13 can only do it in practice, not in games. The new regulations followed 15 months of class action lawsuits from parents groups concerned about the high level of concussions in soccer. Return-to-Play (RTP) Guidelines Following Concussion In 2014, the International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy introduced the 6-step Graduated RTP Protocol following a concussion. See the 6-Step chart at left. Timelines for the steps vary by sport and severity of injury.


A Messaging App in a League of Its Own Message your teams, players, parents, coaches and commissioners all at once.

“ Crew is our team chat hero. It helps us coordinate rides, equipment, snacks and more �

- Coach Darby

27 Make announcements when things change

Get all your games on the calendar

Share game day results and stats

crewapp.com/download

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LEAGUE NATION TOP 10 LMS

LN Top Ten League Management Systems (LMS) 2016 In each issue of LeagueNetwork Magazine, the LN Top Ten ranks the products and services used by Youth League Managers (YLMs). This LN Top Ten ranks the League Management Systems (LMS) now used by YLMs to run their leagues. BY THE EDITORS OF LEAGUENETWORK MAGAZINE In Silicon Valley they say software is a Management System (LMS) platforms prince, but data is king. Nowhere is that that promote their ability to help youth more true than in the League Manageleagues organize themselves and handle registrations and player payments, ment Systems (LMS) used to manage team and player communications, youth sports leagues. Your LMS may look game and practice and field schedulprincely on your smartphone. But that ing, tournaments, showcatses, coach cool-looking LMS turns into a frog if it fumscheduling, referee scheduling, and bles your data--team rosters, registration even background checking. payments, coach communications or 2) Since late 2014, about a quarter-bilschedules. lion dollars have been invested to build, And while the speed and convenience acquire and market LMS systems. of cloud-based mobile systems are driv3) The 10 largest LMS systems together ing adoption of youth LMS platforms, another driver is theft control. In its deep dive into youth sports news, LeagueNetwork CHECK OUT THE LN TOP TEN IN has tracked stories LMC CHART ON THE NEXT PAGE showing that since FOR THE FULL DETAILS. HERE’S 2009, 1,100 YLMs have HOW THEY RANK: gone to jail, mostly for theft of league funds. 1. Blue Star Sports 6. Blue Sombrero One YLM known to LeagueNetwork says 2. SI Play 7. LeagueApps her league revenues jumped 7 percent 3. ACTIVE Sports 8. SportsPilot without any price or participation increase, 4. TeamSnap 9. SportEasy simply because her league went from tak5. SportNgin 10. Oasys Sports ing cash and check payments to all-electronic payments via an LMS. High Stakes Player registration fees this year will toreport users totaling 39,150,000, a numtal an estimated $23 billion. On that $23 ber roughly equal to the sum of all orgabillion, LMS providers can earn several nized youth sport players and coaches percentage points in transaction fees, in the US. (Note: While less than half of an amount worth fighting over. youth leagues are reported to be on LMS Here are 3 reasons that this 2016 LN systems now, LeagueNetwork attributes Top Ten in LMS looks like the story of an the reported total to a combination of arms race: single players registered on multiple 1) Today, there are 90 different League team LMS systems.)

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LN TOP TEN LEAGUE MANAGEMENT SYSTEMS (LMS) 2016

Website

Includes These System and Brand Names

Governing Body Endorsements

Reported Number of Active Youth Sports League, Club and Team Users

www.bluestarsports.com

Blue Star Sports, Bonzi Team, PointStreak, Goalline Sports

AAU, Little League Baseball, USA Soccer, USA Youth Soccer, USA Football, Volleyball Canada, Football Canada, Northern Cyclones, Halifax Ball Hockey League

18,000,000

www.siplay.com

SI Play, Tourney Machine, iScore, League Athletics, SportsSignup, LeagueToolbox, Kidsafeplus

Babe Ruth League, US Lacrosse, Dixie Youth Baseball, Dixie Softball, USA Volleyball, USA Field Hockey, American Youth Football

10,000,000

www.activesports.com

ACTIVE Sports, Leagueone.com, myteam.com

Pop Warner Football, USA Hockey, USBC, USTA, USA Swimming, US Youth Cricket Association

3,500,000

www.teamsnap.com

TeamSnap

N/A

3,500,000

www.sportngin.com

SportNgin, Advanced Event Systems, SiteBuilder

USA Hockey, United Soccer League, American Amateur Baseball Congress, Ontario Soccer Association, Minnesota Hockey

2,100,000

www.bluesombrero.com

Blue Sombrero

N/A

550,000

www.leagueapps.com

LeagueApps, SportsVite

NXT Sports, Cityside LAX, Ultimate Lacrosse, Top Flight Elite Basketball, USA Baseball, Baseball Heaven, Soccer Nation, Street Soccer USA, Futsal Factory

525,000

www.sportspilot.com

Sports Pilot

N/A

450,000

www.sporteasy.net

Sport Easy

N/A

300,000

www.oasyssports.com

Oasys

Lionheart Lacrosse, Aurora Youth Athletics, Kicking It Around Soccer

225,000

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Team & Roster Management & Scheduling

League & Team & Player Communications including Email & Social Media

Tournaments & Showcases

Back Office Administration & Analytics

Background Screening

Number of Countries Covered including US

Free Trial

Volunteer Management

Can Carry League Sponsor Ads

League & Club & Team Websites, Registration & Online Payments

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

23

Y

Y

Y

Largest and fastest-growing LMS platform in US, Canada and internationally, fueled by several high-profile acquisitions and investments. Led by serial merchant payment system entrepreneur Rob Wechsler, and backed by Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, private equity firm Providence Equity and payments giant Bain Capital Worldpay. In April, 2016, Blue Star Sports captured the valuable LMS provider contract with the AAU, the largest youth multisport governing body.

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

2

Y

Y

Y

Second fastest-growing LMS platform, connected with well-respected media brands including Sports Illustrated, Sports Illustrated for Kids, People, Time and Fortune, and significant financial firepower of SI’s parent, Time Inc.

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

26

N

Y

Y

Backed by ACTIVE, the leading registration platform for endurance sport events such as running, built as a result of 38 acquisitions made by ACTIVE over several years.

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

2

Y

Y

N

Evangelized by coaches who want team and player communications and social media tools. Backed by a group of high-profile venture capital and institutional investors.

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

2

Y

Y

Y

Three straight years as 100 Best Companies to Work For in Minnesota, Minneapolis-based SportNgin calls itself the leader in Sports Life Management.

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

2

Y

Y

Y

Free software, supported by advertising from its owner, Dick’s Sporting Goods, which acquired the platform in 2012.

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

2

Y

N

Y

LeagueApps evolved out of the Sportsvite social network, which is adult-sport-based. While LeagueApps is the #1 platform in adult league management, it is fast-growing in youth leagues, backed by several technology venture capitalists.

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

1

Y

N

Y

Founded in 1999, handles both youth leagues and facilties.

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

7

Y

Y

Y

Leading LMS in Europe, backed by venture capital, recently entered the US market.

Y

Y

Y

Y

Y

N

1

Y

Y

N

Founded in 2006, North Carolina-based Oasys was a pioneer in SaaS LMS and registration payment processing for youth sports leagues.

Points of Interest for YLMs

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LEAGUE NATION TOP 10 LMS

LN TOP TEN IN LMS HONORABLE MENTIONS

Pricing With the exception of Blue Sombrero, which is free forever based on the system’s sponsorship by Dick’s Sporting Goods, the pricing of LMS platforms generally includes two pieces. First, a monthly or annual software rental fee which may be a flat fee or cost per registration. And second, cost of credit card transactions that range from 1.5% to 3.0% plus a per-transaction charge that might range from $0.10 to $0.30. Many leading systems have a free trial period before the software fees kick in. And contract terms run from month-to-month to multiple years. Based on a LeagueNetwork representative-sample survey, 47% of YLMs now say they use an LMS, with more than three-quarters saying they plan for their leagues to be online by 2017. What’s more, users do not seem to be all that price-sensitive, saying that receiving registration funds quickly and not having to manage receivables and avoiding keeping track of cash and check payments are much more important than what they pay for their LMS. While most LMS platforms remit registration payments every two weeks and take their fees every month, some are offering innovations that pay quicker. Expect Blue Star Sports—whose founder Rob Wechsler is a world-class payments entrepreneur backed by sports and finance heavyweights Dallas Cowboy owner Jerry Jones, Providence Equity and Bain Capital—to rapidly drive innovations in LMS payment costs, speed and convenience. Also expect SI Play— CEO Jeff Karp is a mobile gaming technology innovator—to test new standards in easy-to-use mobile user experience. The New LMS Fashion Accessory: Background Screening If you’ve ever attended a cloud software conference, you’ve heard the phrase “feature creep.” That’s when software makers include ever-more features in their software, hoping to get an edge over the competition. You know this as an owner of a smartphone that’s loaded

These systems, while just below the Top Ten in total reported users, have significant numbers of users.

ManageYourLeague.com Leagueworks.com Teampages.com Fieldateam.com Ourteamapp.com Easy-league.com Sportsleaguesites.com Teamstuff.com Teamsideline.com Leaguelineup.com Sportsorganizer.com Gotsoccer.com Mysportsite.com Scorebook.com Leaguemanagementapp.com Sportsavvy.com

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with a bunch of apps or accessories that you pay for (but probably never use). In LMS, the newest “feature creep” accessory is background checking for coaches or volunteers. Five of the LN Top Ten LMS providers have now incorporated screening into their LMS platforms, most in the form of a plug-in from a large background checking company. You pay for the screenings on a per-use basis, just as you do if you buy checking services directly from a screening company. Now, the functionality is often built right into your LMS rather than being a separate function. Our LN Top Ten providers tell LeagueNetwork that they expect future versions of LMS systems to include features such as coaching and video analytics, recruiting tools and fundraising tools. Can an LMS Drive Photo Sharing and Sporting Goods Sales? LMS systems are fundamentally a productivity tool for very busy YLMs, most of whom are volunteers with day jobs and family responsibilities. Yet several enterprises are experimenting with using LMS systems as loss-leaders to sell photo storage and printing services or sporting goods. Whether either of these approaches has worked as a significant user-driver is still unclear. An example in the photo storage field is Shutterfly, a company that is taking advantage of the coincidence that sports parents are freakishly frequent picture takers, and often serve as coaches or YLMs for their kids’ sports teams or leagues. Shutterfly users interviewed by LeagueNetwork say that having a LMS that’s built into a photo app they’re already using is a convenience. The trade-off is that the LMS features may be less robust than those in a dedicated LMS application. In the sporting goods field, in 2012, Dick’s Sporting Goods acquired the LMS company Blue Sombrero, which then became the first free LMS. In return for free software, users see offers and coupons from Dick’s. “It’s like broadcast TV,” one user told us. “I tolerate the ads because it’s free.”


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outh League Managers Ryan Bertoni of Matt Leinart Flag Football League (MLFF) and Haamid Wadood of Snoop Youth Football League (SYFL) have never met. But they share a lot. Both men run leagues in the football hotbed of Southern California—Coach Bertoni in K-8 and 7v7 flag, and Commissioner Wadood with a tackle league serving inner-city 5 to 14 yearolds. They share what Commissioner Wadood calls “the gift of the curse,” a celebrity namesake—Bertoni with Heisman Trophy-winning USC and NFL quarterback Matt Leinart, and Wadood with rap star Cordozar Calvin Broadus, Jr, aka Snoop Dogg. Both leaders want growth—Bertoni in flag and 7v7 under a new brand name, and Wadood under the SYFL tackle brand. And both YLMs have learned one big lesson: Youth sports league innovation is harder than it looks. Children, don’t try this at home. This is a job for professionals.

Commissioner of the Snoop Youth Football League, Haamid Wadood. “If you are looking for praise and recognition, this is not the position to have.”

Running a League with Famous Founders BY JAY WHITEHEAD

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Famous Founder Man versus Brand From his storybook run with the USC Trojans 2002-2005 (37-2 as starting QB, Heisman Trophy as a Junior, 2 NCAA Championships), it’s hard to imagine Matt Leinart bullied as a child for being cross-eyed and overweight. A strongarmed lefty, he outweighed his classmates. So he was not allowed to play tackle ball. But he rocked flag. From flag, he graduated to tackle in college at USC. Then to th NFL with the Arizona Cardinals 2006-2009, Houston Texans 2010-2011, Oakland Raiders 2012, and Buffalo Bills in 2013. As Ryan Bertoni recalls, “In 2011, during the NFL lockout, Matt and every other NFL player had time on their hands. I was working with Matt and his brother Ryan and father Bob and we were doing training for young quarterbacks and receivers. We wanted to put our guys in a competitive environment and use their skills. So flag football was the natural next step. That’s when the league really started, with 175 kids.” By 2012, MLFF expanded to 450 players. And by 2016, MLFF has grown to 2,200 players K - 8th grade in Orange County, CA. In 2015, MLLF generated $830,450 in participation fees from its Irvine and Newport Beach operations, with more from its South County operations, totaling about $1 million. Ryan Bertoni runs operations and administration, with SportNgin on registration. The Leinart League’s story has a suburban symmetry. But the Snoop Youth Football League story is, like the movie title, straight out of Compton. Snoop Dogg the rapper was discovered by Dr. Dre of N.W.A. in 1992. While his drive, charisma and intelligence gave him a net worth that Forbes Magazine pegs at $130 million, gang affiliations earned him famous drug and weapons convictions. All the while, Snoop stayed

Matt Leinart Flag Football League’s Director of Football Operations Ryan Bertoni. “Youth re-focused me on the quality of the experience, which is different than high school football’s focus on winning.”

true to sports, with commitments to WWE and Wrestlemania, the NHL, the NFL, and certification as a youth football coach (he coached his son Cordell’s youth football teams and the John A. Rowland High School in Rowland Heights, CA). From 2003 to 2005, Snoop hitched his celebrity and bankroll to the Snoop Youth Football League, or SYFL in Crenshaw, CA. More than a man, he’s a brand. “Snoop draws because of his music, his message, his history, his coaching commitment, his role as a father, and because he’s a humanitarian. It doesn’t matter if moms don’t approve of his music, because he’s more than that to our communities, our kids and our sports, meaning both football and cheer(leading).” Wadood is quick to connect the NYFL with cheerleading. “You can’t have football teams without cheerleaders,” he observes, noting that in some ways, the cheerleading teams compete harder than the footballers. The SYFL quickly caught on, helped by the fact that in Snoop’s league, fathers with criminal records can lead teams. The community benefit is to re-connect young male and female athletes with fathers and positive male role models. The SYFL has 500 volunteer coaches,

The MLFF online registration site, powered by SportNgin

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all watched closely by Wadood and his team of 10 staff. Sex offenders and those with domestic violence convictions are kept from the sidelines, and gang members must keep their disputes off-field, Wadood notes. Snoop launched SYFL for boys 5 to 14 by investing $1 million. The league now has over 2,500 players. “Snoop is the league’s fundraising machine,” says Wadood, explaining that the rapper does events every year to benefit the league. LeagueNetwork estimates that the SYFL’s annual budget exceeds $1.2 million.


The annual Snooperbowl is the pinnacle of each SYFL season.

a springboard to college and pros. In 2015, SYFL listed 20 players signed with Division 1 colleges, and four NLF players: Ronnie Hillman, De’Anthony Thomas, Kam Jackson and Greg Ducre.

Missions Beyond Winnng

Changing Plays at the Line For all the positives of a league started by a celebrity, fame often comes with thorns. For MLFF, a thorn was the common YLM problem: renting fields. While MLFF is registered as a California for-profit LLC, from February 2013 to April 2015 it rented fields under Matt Leinart’s non-profit foundation. The Orange County Register reported an under-charge of $158,451, and that MLFF had accessed reserved for non-profit activities. To its credit, MLFF has agreed to repay back rental fees to the school districts. According to the IRS, over 85% of youth leagues are non-profits, and get advantaged pricing. For example, the Newport-Mesa USD charges non-profits $9/ hour with a $27 minimum, while the for-profit rate is $130.50/hour or $391.50 minimum. MLFF charges $170/player for a season. For his part, MLFF league manager Ryan Bertoni believes that fame caused the flap. “It’s not a story if Matt’s name is not associated with it,” he says. “Instead, it gave us a black eye.” Another downside: celebrities are

busy. “Matt has other obligations and priorities, which is why he has us,” Bertoni says. “The league management work is handled by myself, alongside Matt’s brother Ryan and father Bob.” Bertoni says what’s critical about running a league is organization and operational integrity. “Even with a star’s name, if you’re disorganized and running a bad league, people will go somewhere else, no matter whose name is involved.” By contrast, the Snoop Dogg’s broad popularity, local roots and direct involvement have protected the SYFL. The SYFL league thrives in neighborhoods known for drug and gang activity. Snoop acts “kind of like a peace treaty,” Wadood observes. “No matter whether you are a Blood or a Crip, Snoop brings together all worlds, a cease fire.” For the 3,500-player SYFL, the challenge is growing pains. The league launched in Colorado, Chicago and Las Vegas, but failed because the local volunteer could not sustain operations. “We’ve gotten strong interest from St. Louis, Atlanta, North and South Carolina, Detroit, Arizona and San Diego,” he says. “But we know now that the volunteer base has to be right.” The impetus for growth is driven both by the annual Adidas-sponsored Snooperbowl game in January, and the league’s history as

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For all their differences, Wadood and share LeagueNetwork’s “better leagues, better lives” mission. “Everybody wants something better for their kids,” says Wadood. “Your slogan ‘better leagues, better lives’ says it for us.” Ryan Bertoni, a former high school coach, says that the MLFF youth experience contrasts with the “win-or-else” focus of high school. “In our flag league, a ten-yard catch, or a game-saving flagpull makes all the difference in a player’s life,” Bertoni says. “That’s why we spend a lot of time and energy at our league finding coaches who coach for confidence, for good technique, for good habits, for a healthy approach and foundation.”

Making the Trends your Friends Despite headlines about football head trauma, football participation is slightly up. In tackle, 1.23 million youth ages 6-12 played in 2015, up from 1.216 million the year before. And in flag, there was a larger jump, from 1.086 million to 1.142 million. Both of our innovators are bullish on the future. And both agree with Baltimore Ravens coach John Harbaugh’s 2015 article “Why Football Matters?” in which he wrote, “Football has saved lives.”


2017 Participants: Include 15,000 Girls and Boys Athletes 12-18 from Greater Los Angeles. 2017 Sports: Include world-class Basketball, Softball, Football, Soccer, Lacrosse, Youth Obstacle Racing and Track & Field competition. The main events on June 16-18 will be preceded by 12 days of Preliminary 4XDOL¿HUVLQ*UHDWHU/RV$QJHOHV 2017 Events: Include a 3-day Health and Wellness Expo, 3K family walk/run and the Healthy Habits for Healthy Communities program run by Olympic Coach of the USA CITY GAMESTM , Olympic medalist and New York City Marathon Champion Rod Dixon.

Alumni: Include NFL’s John Elway, MLB’s Tony Gwynn, NBA’s Michael &RRSHUDQG%\URQ6FRWW2O\PSLFWUDFNDQG¿HOGPHGDOLVWV)ORUHQFH*ULI¿WK Joyner and Valerie Brisco Hooks, MLS’s Jose Villarreal, WNBA’s Lisa Leslie, and 300,000 in all. Alumni of the Games are invited to register at www.USACityGames.org to join the Alumni Reception dinner/cocktail, VIP %HQH¿W'LQQHUDQG%HQH¿W&RQFHUWDW7KH*UHHN7KHDWHUDQGWRYROXQWHHU Leagues and Teams from Greater Los Angeles: Can contact the USA CITY GAMESTM staff for participation details at www.USACityGames.com Sponsors and Brand Partners for USA CITY GAMESTM Los Angeles 2017: Will enjoy live audience of 100,000 plus multi-culture region-wide.

/HDJXH1HWZRUNLV2I¿FLDO0HGLDDQG)XQGUDLVLQJ3DUWQHURIWKH86$&,7< GAMESTM, USA CITY GAMESTM is a registered trademark of Make It Happen Productions, MIHP.tv. w w w. L e a g u e Ne t w o r k . c o m

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Snoop Dogg coached his son, here age 7, in the SYFL.

Wadood, whose league is 100% tackle, says, “I agree completely with Coach Harbaugh. Football is a force for good with the young players in our league. I know football saved my life. We serve kids who really need football and the values it teaches,” he says. “We save lives every season.” As for the safety issues, Wadood is proud of his new Heads Up practice routines for safer tackling, blocking, running and falling and greater heat-awareness. “It’s not like grandpa’s day,” he says. “Today’s players are bigger and stronger, the equipment is better, and today’s coaches are smarter about training. Bertoni’s says his league has three types of players. First, tackle players developing off-season. Second recreational players who will never play tackle. And third, transitional players who may or may not migrate from flag to tackle. “It’s the third type of kid, the smallest group in flag,” Bertoni says, “who is the most impacted by the issue of concussions and safety. No matter, I don’t think the tackle game will ever die. It will evolve, for sure, but from a player’s, coach’s and fan’s

perspective, there is simply nothing like the game of tackle football.” Our pair of innovators continue growing, but differently based on strengths of their respective brands.

The Road Forward Commissioner Wadood will stick with SYFL, because he knows the brand travels well. “Kids are proud of the uniform because they know what it says about them and their communities,” he says. But SYFL’s brand is its people. “You must surround yourself with committed, loyal people who are in it for the community and the kids, driven from the heart,” he urges. “This is not about fame or praise or money, even if you’re working with a celebrity founder like Snoop. Find the joy in your product.”

The “SYFL brand travels well,” says Commissioner Wadood, shown here on a team bus.

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MLLF’s Bertoni, by contrast, prefers the partnership route. “We partnered up with NFL Flag in San Diego and Hall of Fame Flag up north,” Bertoni says, “to get some volume and size and reach and to buy in bulk.” That worked. Turns out the MLFF brand has strong ties in Orange County. As a result, Bertoni says, “We will expand geographically under the Hall of Fame brand because it has no ties to local name recognition.” Bertoni is also embracing the 7v7 trend. He is partnering with Airo 7v7 Sports Management, which leads a national 7v7 14U tournament, backed by Adidas. But flag will dominate. “Everyone wants to be the Little League of flag,” he states. “And that’s probably one of the things we want to be, although it’s about having a quality product. We’ll grow slower in order to have people walk away happy.” Both Bertoni and Wadood share one sobering reality of the YLM experience: Success depends on full commitment. “Being a youth league manager will get your full-time commitment one way or the other,” says Bertoni. “If you plan on growing, plan on a greater commitment of attention. There’s no getting around it.” Commissioner Wadood, a shirt-wearing fan of “3’s Up” (“be real, be righteous, be relevant”), is even more direct. “Leading a league is a highly scrutinized position. The role is about setting and following rules. If you want the kids and community to commit,” he says, “they need to see the same from you.”


WHAT THIS PLACE NEEDS IS ACTIVE PLAY EVERY DAY.

Thanks to our work with NFL PLAY 60, we’ve brought fun fitness programs to more than 35,000 kids. And it can happen here too.

To donate or volunteer, go to UNITEDWAY.ORG. 49 BECAUSE GREAT THINGS HAPPEN w w w. L e a g u e Ne t wWHEN o r k . c o m WE LIVE UNITED.


YLM HUMOR

You may think this is a spoof on the Jeff Foxworthy routine “you might be a Redneck…” You’d be right. Read on, dear YLM. You may just get some lines that will spice up your next league board meeting. BY LEAGUENETWORK EDITORS ...You have refused to watch the Academy Awards since “Kicking and Screaming” was snubbed for best picture. …You truly believe the giant rolling drink cooler is the greatest invention of all time. …You’ve ever lost a tooth breaking up a sideline parent brawl, twice. …Your league’s child predator alert and background checking service sends you a Christmas card. …You’ve ever sorted 868 used soccer shoes, by size, in your kitchen, in your pajamas. …When you see that 6 of your umpires and trainers now each make $23,660

a year, the new December 1, 2016 overtime threshold, and you break out in a cold sweat. …Rather than using a gavel, you adjourn your league board meeting by pounding a hockey puck. …You see kids playing a pickup game of any sport, and ask why they don’t have a referee. …In the summer, having 520 hockey gloves in your bedroom closet is not strange. …Your front porch serves as a uniform delivery loading dock. …You encourage your kid to skip a year of school because you can’t find anyone else to coach lacrosse.

…You see an empty warehouse anywhere and suddenly think “that would make a great indoor soccer facility.”

registration system bank interchange charges down to the penny.

...You know 3 ways to get that nasty white field marking paint off your dress shoes.

…You have a very special youth league logo windbreaker, just for special occasions.

…You were reviewing the tournament and camp schedule when any of your kids were born.

…You have mastered 7 nonviolent ways to get a crazed football dad to sit the heck down.

…You prominently display your honorary gift whistle.

…You know which type of credit card the parents of each of your players used to register.

…You are startled to kids on CNN playing soccer in Africa wearing your Lakewood Junior Blueclaws baseball jersey… then you remember when you donated those jerseys last winter, the guy said he had family in Nigeria. …You climb over those boxes of trophies from 1999 that you didn’t distribute to the players…then you realize most of those players are now parents. …You have the referee assignor’s number on speed dial. …You actually know your sports league

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…Pop Warner makes your list of most admired people. …The main course at your potluck dinners features Gatorade. …Your family holiday card for the past ten years is a team photo with Ralphie the league mascot. …You consider “LeagueNetwork Magazine” deep reading.


THEFT

The Youth League Theft Epidemic And the three-step way to theft-proof your league BY ANNE-SOPHIE WHITEHEAD

A softball league president arrested for stealing $100,000.

MOST THEFTS HAPPEN VIA ONE OF THREE METHODS:

THEFT PROTECTION STEP ONE: Step 1, if you now take cash and checks for registration fees, stop. Use an online League Management System (or LMS) for electronic registrations. To pick one, check out our feature on page 40 ranking the LN Top Ten LMS systems. Ask the trustees of any league who have replaced cash and checks with an all-online registration system how much their receipts increased year-over-year. The most common answer is 5% to 7%, which more than covers the cost of the LMS.

I

Stealing registration fee cash or checks

II

THEFT PROTECTION STEP TWO: Step 2, cancel all league ATM cards. Or if you really do need an ATM card, set one up at a bank other than your primary bank, or buy prepaid cards, and only fund the card with $500 at a time.

Unauthorized use of an ATM card

III

Writing of checks on league accounts that only require one signer. The good news? You can immediately do three things to theft-proof your league.

THEFT PROTECTION STEP THREE: Step 3, require two signatures on checks over a certain amount, usually $50 or $100.

EXTR A ADVICE

Youth leagues are now big business. And stealing from leagues is now an epidemic. Want proof? Google search “youth sports financial theft.” You’ll get about 6,130,000 results. Go to Dakota County (MN) and see County Attorney James Backstrom. He will tell you that between 2009 and 2014, his office has prosecuted six youth sports financial embezzlement, fraud and theft cases. Most recently, he tried Rosemount Area Athletic Association finance manager Robert Reischauer who stole $113,000. Go to a parent of the 300 football players and cheerleaders in the Vista (CA) Pop Warner and ask about Rachel Marie Owens. Hear how, in 2015, the cheerleaders had to borrow money to attend a championship because Owens, the volunteer treasurer and a local math teacher, stole $100,000. Or ask a parent in the Diablo Valley Football Conference (CA) about their 64 year old treasurer Lynwood Peyton who in April 2016 was arrested for stealing $200,000. Or a parent in the Pentucket (MA) youth football league about 54 year old treasurer James Potenza who stole $80,000. Or a member of the Appleton (WI) youth baseball league about 41 year old trustee Rodney K. Schreiber Jr., who stole $14,000 to feed his gambling addiction by using the league’s ATM card at a casino. Know how many of the 100+ governing bodies in the top 21 team sports can say that their members have never experienced a financial theft or fraud? Answer: Zero. The most common answer to why people steal from youth leagues? Because it’s too easy.

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The theft epidemic also has volunteers and sponsors freaked out about backing youth leagues. The antidote? Transparency. Go to a website called Guidestar, one of the major charity watchdogs that tracks nonprofits. Sign up for free to access the 990 form, your non-profit’s tax form. Go to “Advanced search.” Put in your league’s name, or your league’s governing authority, Little League or Pop Warner or PAL, plus city and the state. Click on 990 to find your league. Lots to see here, including number of kids participating, revenues, expenses. Make the link to your league’s 990 available online, or forward it to people you are recruiting as proof that your league’s finances are well-managed.

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SOCIAL MISSION

JAMES LINCOLN is CEO of impact venture capital fund Illuminated Funds Group, advises impact investment funds for several US states, and is a member of the League Network PBC Board of Directors.

Why Better Leagues Make Better Lives Why youth sports leagues are the engine of your community’s success BY JAMES LINCOLN Thriving children. Safer streets. Engaged parents. Is this the personality of your neighborhood? Why do you wave to your neighbor on the sidelines of the local league game? Or not wave? Drill down a bit. Your neighborhood is built on relationships, the product of a communications network. These relationships might be as simple as parents meeting at the kids’ baseball practice. Or as complex as an emergency youth league trustee meeting to address a funding or volunteer shortfall or governance scandal that threatens the life of the local league. Fact is, the more active and open the communication network, the more relationships it forms. But neither networks nor relationships grow on their own. They both take hard work and people who share a common interest in learning, connecting, saving money and time, and growing. That brings us to LeagueNetwork, the media company that made the magazine you are reading now. It was born an open communication network, a media and fundraising platform where time-starved volunteer youth league managers can do four things:

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learn best practices, connect with each other even if they are strangers, save money by comparison shopping and grow via fundraising. And when it works well, it allows youth league managers to build better relationships with coaches, players, parents, providers of the products and services they buy, the people who control the fields and courts they use, and the officials who keep the games safe—all of whom sustain and nourish their communities. LeagueNetwork’s slogan is Better Leagues, Better LivesTM. Strong words. But this is more than a trademarked tag line. Co-founders Anne-Sophie and Jay Whitehead and JR Tolver and their team know firsthand that well-run youth sports leagues make communities better places to live. Let’s look as some facts. There is a growing body of research that shows, beyond doubt, that well-run youth sports leagues boost high school graduation rates, suppress youth crime rates, and jack up parental involvement. And these successes are independent of socioeconomic status. Nearly 7/8ths of Youth League Managers (YLMs) are volunteers. And even the 1/8th who are paid are


underpaid. YLMs are not in it for the money. YLMs are in it to care for communities and more fully participate in the lives of their children and neighbors. YLMs are teachers and bankers and truck drivers and business owners and plumbers. YLMs almost never have formal training in league management. LeagueNetwork is YLMs’ roadmap to operational and financial best practices and good governance. Just as having a good highway map keeps drivers safe, LeagueNetwork helps keep YLMs and their leagues safe, sound and sport-friendly. It is also a fact that one thing above all others makes volunteers flee: when there’s no training or operational support guide. LeagueNetwork is that guide. And here’s a sad fact. Since 2009, without an authoritative source of best practices, about 1100 youth league managers have gone to jail (mostly for theft, some for abuse or violence). By sharing and instilling best practices in finance and accounting, payment management, coaching, recruiting, sourcing, website management, parent and volunteer communications, legal compliance and safety, LeagueNetwork helps YLMs and leagues keep each other accountable, and avoid temptations that lead to trouble. Putting our Money where our Mission Is Another fact: Over 80% of youth sports leagues fall $1,000 to $50,000 short of their budget needs at one point in every year. And while some leagues are lucky enough to have one or more volunteers who are good fundraisers, most leagues are fundraising-challenged. LeagueNetwork surveys repeatedly show that fundraising is the by far the greatest pain point for league managers nationwide. To put fundraising pain in perspective, league managers rank fundraising as four-times more painful than even the most troublesome parent problem, board fight or coaching bungle. To address the pain of fundraising, LeagueNetwork has built a technology-based service we call LeagueGrowth to help youth sports leagues raise money to fill budget gaps. It is a set of 6 cloud tools—crowdfunding, uniform sponsorship, product sales (think healthy snacks), spirit gear, local store donations and banquet/event registration. And the tools are supported by our Success Consultants, all former pro athletes. Our Success Consultants understand the sports funding process and your league. And they have the tools and techniques to help you get your program funded. LeagueNetwork’s Success Consultants are positive role models whose interests are perfectly aligned with you and your league. Years ago, our Success Consultants were local and national sports stars. Today, they are your community’s mothers and fathers, aunts and uncles. They care about your league,

players and coaches. They get paid as a small percentage of the money they raise for you. And if your league happens to be in a low-income census tract, the percent of the raise LeagueNetwork charges is heavily discounted to make sure more money gets to your league. When necessary, LeagueNetwork subsidizes Success Consultant pay to make sure they are incented to work as hard for low-income leagues as higher-income leagues. LeagueNetwork is organized as both a Public Benefit Corporation in Delaware and a B-Corp. These are legal structures that ensure LeagueNetwork serves its social mission, by requiring the company to create and report on social benefits such as funds raised, leagues assisted and free premium subscriptions distributed. We make it easy for YLMs to hold LeagueNetwork accountable to its Better Leagues, Better Lives™ mission. Companies with a social mission offer communities greater benefits. That is why I joined the team. My venture capital fund, Illuminated Funds Group, only invests in social enterprises. Each company in which I invest makes community benefit a priority. Examples include Social Imprints (for-profit that hires from a disadvantaged labor pool); the Arizona Autism Charter School (free public education for an autistic population); and Green Builder Media (tools for environmentally conscious construction). These investments make both a financial market return, and provide significant benefits to the communities they serve. This is not entirely altruistic. If my community is better off, so am I. LeagueNetwork management’s commitment to its mission runs deep. Each co-founder has a history of creating social value. Corporate Responsibility Officer, a B2B media company that LeagueNetwork co-founders Jay and Anne-Sophie Whitehead established (and I helped finance) last decade, researches and discloses best corporate practices. Its flagship product, the famous 100 Best Corporate Citizens List, ranks America’s 1000 largest public companies according to several categories of publicly-available environmental, social and governance disclosures. Anne Sophie Whitehead has volunteered for 15 years to manage the Mountain Top League, New Jersey’s 55-year-old, 3,500 -player, 6-sport youth league. And Gregory “JR” Tolver, retired NFL star, served as a high school athletic director and founded and operated a major recycling business in Latin America. Mission runs strong in this team. Better Leagues, Better Lives™. That is our trademark, motivation, mission and mantra. This media network helps all youth league managers Learn, Connect, Save and Grow. Our LeagueNetwork powers your league network, to make better leagues and better lives.

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SINCE 2009, without an authoritative source of best practices, about 1100 youth league managers have gone to jail (mostly for theft, some for abuse or violence).


THE MAN BEHIND THE MASK

The Man Behind the Mask Who made baseball safe and popular enough for today’s leagues? Ever heard of Big Jim Johnstone? BY MARIEL CONCEPCION YLMs know brands like Easton, Spaulding mask) or too heavy to wear (think Meing and Wilson for their high tech basedieval Times jousting helmet). ball protective equipment such as catchBig Jim lived in Patterson, NJ and once er’s and umpire’s masks, chest and shin faced the evil hitting champion and Hall protectors. It’s easy to forget that in 1895, of Famer Honus Wagner. Jim had the errant balls and bats ofdouble bad luck to blow ten maimed catchers and out his arm and be born umpires, resulting in local too early for Tommy John 1913 campaigns to ban the boys surgery. So the craftsman PROTOTYPES of summer, especially for by day became an umpire youth players. by night. By 1913 he had Big Jim Johnstone’s Future World Series umperfected his aluminum grandson Chester (left) pire Big Jim Johnstone mask. The patent was apand great-grandson knew the dangers well. proved in 1922, by which Michael Johnstone, Johnstone pitched 41 time he was umpiring the modeling 1913 protogames with a 3.41 ERA and World Series as one of the types of the patented batted .159 in 132 at bats 11 elite National League catcher’s mask. for St. Paul in the Western crew members. In 1922 League in 1895. He knew and 1923, A.G. Spaulding that keeping baseball alive ordered 5,000 of the masks meant keeping players safe. from the Johnstone Baseball Mask Co. So Big Jim, an aluminum foundryman, The mask was produced through 1942, came up with a design that was light and and ultimately copied by over a dozen strong enough to deflect a fastball. Precompetitors. vious designs were either too light to be Hall of Famer Yogi Berra wore Big Jim’s protective (think Three Musketeers fencmask for his entire major league career. A

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prototype t t off Bi Big Ji Jim’s ’ mask k h hangs in i th the Yogi Berra Museum at Montclair State University and the Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown. Big Jim also built aluminum shin guards and protective cups, which his grandson Chester, an accomplished artist in his own right, calls “absolutely beautiful inventions, perfectly functional.” Little did Big Jim know that his great-grandson Michael Johnstone would follow in his footsteps to become a junior league and college player, umpire, and baseball invention historian. As a member of the board of the NJ Inventor’s Hall of Fame, Michael keeps alive the inventive genius of baseball umpire Big Jim Johnstone, the man behind the catcher’s mask.

YOGI BERRA wore the original Johnstone Mask into the 1950s.


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THE LAST WORD

The Last Word

Here’s how I know you’ll like it here. Since 1982, I’ve run enthusiast and business media—magazines, newspapers, online, conferences and live events, broadcast. PC Magazine, UPSIDE Magazine, Daily Journal, California Republic, CRN, Triathlete, FRISKO, HRO Today, HRO Why YLM Media Matters Europe, HRO World, Corporate Responsibility, and others. Before each media BY JAY WHITEHEAD, PUBLISHER title existed, community members could not see themselves. Sellers and buyLeagueNetwork was 14 years in the ers couldn’t recognize each other, so making. It will make you better, your they could not connect. Community league better, and your life better. members did not know they were a part Here’s why. of something bigger than themselves. We are building something that does Then, as each community gets its own not exist: A media community for overmedia, it gets a mirror. Community worked and underpaid (in fact, mostly members see themselves in the stories. unpaid) YLMs who run North America’s Suddenly, everyone knows they’re part of 60,000 youth sports leagues, and for the something bigger than themselves. Best 1,500+ providers who offer practices get better. Sellers the products and services meet buyers. More people BIRTH OF that leagues need. come. And markets grow. LEAGUE We come to work each Lesson 2: Media creates NETWORK morning for one reason: To new habits. When media make LeagueNetwork Mageditors build new magazines, LeagueNetwork Magaazine, LeagueNetwork.com, websites or TV shows, they zine was 14 years in the and LeagueNetwork Live have one goal: create new making. Its birth is big Events your go-to resource viewer habits. Our new viewnews for YLMs. to help you run and actively er habits matter because in assist you to raise money for youth sports, demand outyour youth leagues. strips supply—more kids want We do it because we know youth to play than there are organized league sports leagues’ secret impact: That games. Supply is limited because YLMs better youth sports leagues boost high don’t have 4 things: one place for best school graduation rates and cut youth practices, to connect with other YLMs, crime rates, regardless of a community’s to shop for all 22 types of products and socioeconomic status. services that leagues buy, and to get Twenty-nine years ago Bill Ziff, my boss help raising funds. So LeagueNetwork at PC Magazine and the most brilliant is a new habit that gives you all 4 things media mind I ever met, taught me the you need to be a great YLM. It’s a habit three ways that media like LeagueNetthat helps you help more kids play, more work matters. Now is the time to share affordably and safer. those lessons. Lesson 3: Media makes you matter. Lesson 1: Media is a mirror. How How do you know your impact in your do you know what you look like in your family? Your family tells you. But how do world unless you can see your reflection? you know what impact you are having LeagueNetwork media—this magazine, on your community through your youth LeagueNetwork.com, and Leagueleague? LeagueNetwork tells you. Network Live Events--reflect you as a LeagueNetwork validates you as a YLM. YLM. You are the hero of our stories. At It’s how you know you matter, that you LeagueNetwork, you are large and in are making better leagues, better lives. charge. We believe you will enjoy returnWelcome to LeagueNetwork. ing to where you look good, where you are the hero.

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