Participation numbers are down in the most youth sports, including the “traditional” ones: baseball, football, and soccer. Though many factors are at play with this decline (including safety concerns for football and increased competitive teams at younger ages), one reason is because today’s families simply have more options for sports and other activities. A youth league that isn’t on top of its game (pun fully intended!) risks losing players. Lose enough players over the years, and your league could dissolve.
In the 2010s, a youth league without a website simply isn’t an option. Sure, you might remember a time when leagues didn’t need homepages to be successful, but those days have passed. Most millennials grew up finding any sort of information they needed online. This generation is beginning to register their kids in sports en masse, and they will be suspect of any youth league that doesn’t have a website. Here are some reasons why a league can fail without one:
New Families Can’t Find the League
Consider a family that is new to a city and has a 5-year-old who wants to start playing soccer. The first thing these parents might do is to search the Internet for “local youth soccer leagues.” Without a website, they won’t find your league—but they will find other organizations. And although you might not be directly competing with those other leagues, parents will not even know yours is an option. Your organization needs visibility; a website can provide that, thus informing prospective families of everything your league has to offer.
Parents and Coaches Can’t Find Any News
The coaches and families already involved with your youth league require a trove of basic info: schedules, rosters, registration details, and so on. A website—and the communication features offered in league management software that helps you establish a site—is a perfect disseminator of this information. Without a website, parents are calling and emailing coaches and administrators, and your coaches often are bugging admins as well. And though you want to foster good communication, too many emails are a hassle; parents and coaches who feel hassled will be more likely to search for another league next season.
Registration Becomes Difficult
Today’s generation of younger parents are used to buying, paying, and registering for things online. Manually filling out registration forms (and then writing checks) for a league seems like a waste of time for these families. Furthermore, paper registrations can be easily lost, misread, or misfiled, thus creating headaches for registrant and administrator alike. If a parents don’t feel confident in the registration process because it’s too 20th century, they will find another league. Online registration isn’t the future: It’s now, and organizations that don’t adapt will be left behind.
The League Appears Too Old School
Again, parents are bringing different expectations to the recreational youth league experience. They don’t want coaches screaming at their kids, instead teaching. They want an organization that stresses fun and development over killer competition. They want a social experience for their children as well as themselves. And they want convenience. Without a website, these parents may think a league is old school—too set on an experience that went out of style a few decades ago. Your organization may not be like that (in fact, most leagues today aren’t), but without a homepage, how can families be absolutely sure? Create a website and show these parents that you run a modern youth league that they can be confident trusting their kids to.
Why do you feel a website is important to a youth league?