Sating the insatiable demand for real-time T-ball action…
…is a former Cleveland Indians single-A pitcher named Ted Sullivan who says he’s got an iPhone app that will track your kid’s games so you can assuage your guilt at not showing up. From the upcoming issue of Forbes:
GameChanger–due to roll out Mar. 1 in New York, Washington, D.C., St. Louis and Orange County, Calif.–is working a sizable audience: An estimated 25 million kids ages 18 and younger play competitive baseball. “College and pro fans take for granted that they can get game information anytime,” says Sullivan. “But there’s huge demand for that real-time content for youth and high school sports, too.”
Here’s Sullivan’s pitch. Each baseball squad has a scorekeeper who logs every at-bat, mainly on pen and paper. GameChanger’s friendly interface uses straightforward language instead of baseball lingo. Example: Rather than describe a shortstop-to-second-baseman-to-first-baseman double play as a “6-4-3 DP,” GameChanger lets users click on parts of the field where the ball traveled. It can also track customized statistics like “hustle points” or strong defensive plays.
Once logged in, the scoring data flows to Fungo’s servers, which can beam it, in the form of text messages, to the phones of all those busy parents and relatives–as well as to the hundreds of Web sites, newspapers and TV affiliates looking to beef up their news coverage on the cheap.
Forbes points out two problems that Sullivan readily acknowledges. First, with a price point of $2 per month, he has to sell 1 million subscriptions to reach his goal of $8 million per year. Forbes estimates there is a one in 15 chance, based on iPhone sales, that a scorekeeper would have one. I would say given the technology prowess, or lack thereof, of the youth volunteers I’ve seen (unlike Sullivan, my pedigree is not the high clouds of St. Alban’s in DC, Duke and Harvard Business), the chances are far less than one in 15. But even assuming those odds, you can’t assume there is a) a scorekeeper to begin with (in my leagues, a coach keeps track of his or her team) and b) a scorekeeper so inclined to use the iPhone to enter all the information Sullivan wants.
However, I think participation would increase if Sullivan promises to track the following in real-time:
— Right fielders picking dandelions.
— Parent/coach/umpire arguments/ejections.
— How often the coach pitches his son when it’s damn clear your son is better.
Also, in targeting only guilt-ridden parents, Sullivan is ignoring a few obvious markets:
— Ice cream truck drivers, so they know when to show up to a game and park and play their grating song OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER and OVER until you HAVE to buy FUCKING SPONGEBOB ICE CREAM BARS just to GET THEM TO GO AWAY, GODDAMNIT.
— Coaches who think they’re running a friggin’ major-league team and want to use it for “scouting.”