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Benefits of an Online Sports Management System
By: Rich Thomaselli

A business has to be many things to many people these days fiscally feasible, socially and environmentally conscious, safety-centric, to name a few but mostly it has to be relevant.

From mom-and-pop shops to big-box retailers and everything in between, at its heart, a business still has the core objective of providing a service to consumers that makes their lives easier. Car needs an oil change? Take it to a mechanic. Long day, too tired to cook? Out to dinner. Blouse needs to be specially cleaned? Slacks need to be hemmed? Washing machine on the fritz? There's a business for that.

When it comes to the tedious task of registering hundreds and sometimes thousands of youth sports league participants, making life easier is exactly online sports management systems can do. 

There are many service companies that specialize in online registrations for youth sports, background checks of volunteers and coaches, and even concussion management tools, all of which are critical assignments and duties in the youth sports league process for everything from little league to church youth organizations.

"Every year, registration was a nightmare," said Melvin Slough, director of membership for the Glen Allen, Virginia, Youth Athletic Association, one of thousands of youth sports leagues across the country. For Slough, that means annually registering 1,100 baseball and softball players in the spring and more than 900 basketball players in the winter. All previously done by hand.

"Oh, it was overwhelming," Slough said. "We did everything by paper, so you can just imagine. I figured there had to be a better way. You read so many stories about people applying for this or registering for that online."

It is a paradigm shift of changing preferences. According to Internet World Stats, 76% of the population in the United States is Internet users.

The benefits of putting the registration process online are plentiful and can reduce costs by as much as 45%. To wit:

 Less man-hours in processing hand-written forms via elimination of data entry

 Reduced cost of postage paper, ink and postage

 Increased productivity

 Reduction of errors

 Increased responses, attendance and revenues

 An e-mail database that allows easy participant notification

"The benefits went from our registration being a 10-man job to a one-man job me," said Tom Gilbert, director of registration and technology for the Deerfield, Illinois, Youth Baseball Association. 

"We love using an online registration system and the setup was so easy" said Mary Anne Decker, Administrator of the Visitation BVM Church Youth Organization. "It has made the process of registering our players such a joy. We have had nothing but great reviews from our parents and coaches." 

The process of registering just one child for a sports team or event takes an average of eight sheets of paper, including, among other items, the registration form itself, a parental/guardian consent form, medical waiver, league information form, special notices, and flyers to advertise the league.

Now think about how many children are playing recreation sports. According to childstats.gov, there are about 50 million children in the U.S. between the ages of 6 and 17. The Sporting Goods Manufacturers Association's annual participation study on team sports estimates that in 2011, 70% of those children between 6 and 17 or 35 million played organized team sports. That's a lot of paper.

Oh, and just a couple of more numbers to throw at you 128, 3 million, and 339 decillion. These give you an idea of the safety of all the information you'll be giving out online, including credit card numbers.

The 128 is for 128-bit encryption, which most use a secure server. Think of it as a combination padlock. If that lock had a 2-bit key combination, it means there are only four possible number combinations (or 2x2) to the lock. If it was 3-bit, it would have eight possible combinations (2x2x2). And so on. Well, 128-bit encryption has 339 decillion combinations (that's 33 zeroes) and, according to inet2000.com, it would take about 3 million years for a computer to crack a 128-bit encryption code.

An online sports management system is fiscally feasible, socially and environmentally conscious, safety-centric and easier.

Rich Thomaselli is a freelance writer for SportsSignup, which provides secure, easy-to-use online applications for online registration and payment processing, coach and volunteer background checks, tournament (team) registration, and database-driven member management systems for national organizations, www.sportssignup.com.

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