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Posts Tagged ‘Count Me In

Top youth sports stories of the year, part one

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Dec. 31, 2009, will be a momentous occasion — the one-year anniversary of when I began blogging about youth sports. You expected something else?

Being as I started this blog elsewhere, taking this moment to look at the top 10 youth sports stories of the year is not only a cheap way to create a little content, but it’s also a chance for you all to see what my fingertips have obsessed over since Dec. 31, 2008. I’ll break this up over two days: five today, and five tomorrow. And then the regulation youth-size ball drops on a new year of new youth sports wackiness.

10. “Beware the Green Death”

Poor Michael Kinahan. Here he was, trying to inject a little humor into his introductory note to parents as a coach of 7-year-old girls’ soccer in Scituate, Mass., and instead he loses his gig and becomes a worldwide cause celebre. Then again, if you didn’t know the guy, and you got a letter like this, you’d do a little cause celebre-ing yourself. Among the highlights:

… According to my wife, my emails get too wordy, so for those of you read too slowly, are easily offended, or are too busy, you can stop here. For the others……

OK, here’s the real deal: Team 7 will be called Green Death. … I only expect 110% at every game and practice. We do not cater to superstars, but prefer the gritty determination of journeymen who bring their lunch pail to work every week, chase every ball and dig in corners like a Michael Vick pit bull. Unless there is an issue concerning the health of my players or inside info on the opposition, you probably don’t need to talk to me. …

Some say soccer at this age is about fun and I completely agree. However, I believe winning is fun and losing is for losers. … The political correctness police are not welcome on my sidelines. America’s youth is becoming fat, lazy and non-competitive because competition is viewed as “bad”. I argue that competition is good and is important to the evolution of our species and our survival in what has become an increasingly competitive global economy and dangerous world. … I expect that the ladies be put on a diet of fish, undercooked red meat and lots of veggies. No junk food. Protein shakes are encouraged, and while blood doping and HGH use is frowned upon, there is no testing policy. And at the risk of stating the obvious, blue slushies are for winners.

…[I]t is imperative that we all fight the good fight, get involved now and resist the urge to become sweat-xedo-wearing yuppies who sit on the sidelines in their LL Bean chairs sipping mocha-latte-half-caf-chinos while discussing reality TV and home decorating with other feeble-minded folks. I want to hear cheering, I want to hear encouragement, I want to get the team pumped up at each and every game and know they are playing for something.

Lastly, we are all cognizant of the soft bigotry that expects women and especially little girls, to be dainty and submissive; I wholeheartedly reject such drivel. My overarching goal is develop ladies who are confident and fearless, who will stand up for their beliefs and challenge the status quo. Girls who will kick ass and take names on the field, off the field and throughout their lives. I want these girls to be winners in the game of life. Who’s with me?

Go Green Death!

Lesson to you coaches out there: parents are humorless, and they will forward you witty emails to the media.

9. Leaving early for a pro career — real early

In many nations, young players leave home at young ages for professional sports academies, or apprenticeships, or junior leagues that are clear in their status as hothouses of future pros. America is not one of those nations. We, unlike the rest of the world, like to pretend our young athletes are students first and just happen to be in sports for the pure joy of it. (Michael Kinahan would like to have a word with you about that.)

So that’s why it became a big deal when Jeremy Tyler of San Diego went pro after his junior year — of high school. He went to play basketball in Europe after high school competition for a 6-foot-11 dunking machine was a little unchallenging. Meanwhile, Bryce Harper of Las Vegas one-upped Tyler by declaring he would leave high school after his sophomore year, get his GED and play at a community college so he could get into the Major League Baseball draft earlier.

Will they be successful? Who knows? Who cares? As far as the American student-athlete complex goes, few are even remotely talented enough to try this, whether Tyler and Harper succeed or fail.

8. The bankruptcy of Count Me In

Never heard of Count Me In? Then you didn’t have an affiliation with a youth sports organization that got its money sucked up by the Seattle-based company. Count Me In was sued and sent into bankruptcy by some of the organizations that sent it $5 million that the company never returned. How did that happen? Count Me In sold league-registration software. So someone would register for a league, pay the fees, and Count Me In would forward that money to the league. Except that it ran into financial troubles, and didn’t. One New Jersey soccer club that sued Count Me In and founder Terry Drayton said it was out $142,000.

As it turned out, in May a savior emerged for Count Me In: Terry Drayton. He formed another company that paid $200,000 to buy Count Me In out of bankruptcy. Drayton says he still plans on paying everyone back (if he hasn’t already). Being a self-described serial entrepreneur is never have to say you failed.

7. H1N1 screws up the sports landscape

Swine flu ensured in many areas that your little piggie stayed home from the game. H1N1 hysteria was especially evident when it first broke out in the spring, with school districts across the country canceling sporting events. Most notably, the organization running Texas high school sports created a scheduling clusterfuck when it postponed all activities in the first two weeks of May, a timeframe that included the state track and field championships. When H1N1 broke out again in the fall, cancellation fever didn’t follow (even though there were postponements here and there). Instead, the emphasis was on making sure the illness wasn’t spread at events, which threatened to make the post-game handshake an endangered species.

6. Kids and/or parents and/or fans fight at games

This isn’t necessarily newsworthy. I figured I should include it because whenever I post video of youth sports fights, people flock to it like sports porn.

Later: the top five youth sports stories!

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Written by rkcookjr

December 28, 2009 at 12:02 am

Count him in

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For the youth sports leagues who lost money trusting it to Terry Drayton’s Count Me In, a savior has emerged… Terry Drayton.

drayton

That’s right, bitches. I’m gonna own 2009 after all.

From John Cook (no relation to your humble blogger) at TechFlash, who has done a great job breaking news on the Count Me In saga:

Let’s call it a comeback. Count Me In founder Terry Drayton is leading a new effort to buy back the assets of the troubled online payment processing company.

The move comes a little more than three months after Bellevue-based Count Me In was forced into Chapter 7 bankruptcy by some of its non-profit customers for losing roughly $5 million in registration fees.

Drayton has now emerged as the leader of an entity called Rainier Software that appears to be in the pole position to buy the assets. It’s the latest twist in a saga that has drawn considerable chatter on this blog. According to court documents, Rainier recently made a $200,000 “stalking horse bid” for Count Me In’s domain names, technology, contracts and other assets.

The owner whose incompetence and/or malfeasance (depending on what league you talk to) led his company to bankruptcy and screwed up the finances of organizations across the country gets to buy Count Me in back for a song? This can’t be legal, right?

Oh yeah, it is, though by the time you get through the ridiculousness of how this can happen, it’ll make sense that the trustee assigned to the Count Me In bankruptcy is named Ed Wood, because the process seems as strange as an Ed Wood movie.

Basically, what happened was. On March 20, about three months after Count Me In was forced into bankruptcy, a company called Rainier Software filed something called a financial statement, or UCC-1. It’s filed by a lender with the state’s secretary of state as a means to secure property owned by the debtor. So Rainier Software was saying it lent money to Count Me In, and that Count Me In put up property as collateral — thus bringing it to the head of the bankruptcy line as a secured creditor. Ed Wood was OK with this because he determined that the youth leagues who used Count Me In, and were still using it, would be out more money if the company shut down than if he allowed it to continue on.

Meanwhile, Ed Wood was determining that he couldn’t find a buyer for Count Me In. Ed Wood “determined that businesses of the type and sophistication of the debtor’s are dominated by a few businesses, including the debtor,” according to the latest bankruptcy court filing. “The Trustee has been in constant contact with most of these companies, but only one company, Rainier, negotiated a purchase and sale agreement.”

The operator of Rainier? None other than Terry Drayton.

So for $200,000, less the approximately $49,000 discount Rainier (Drayton) gets for its secured-debt level on Count Me In (Drayton), Rainier (Drayton) is first in line to buy the assets of Count Me In (Drayton). Rainier (Drayton) has 60 days to give the court a list of contracts from Count Me In (Drayton) plans to assume — meaning the possibility exists that leagues that are owed money by Count Me In (Drayton) not only might never see it again, but that they might be tossed overboard by the new owner, Rainier (Drayton).

Of course, a “stalking horse” deal such as this means that others can bid a higher price and take Count Me In (Drayton) out of the hands of Rainier (Drayton) — as long as Rainier (Drayton) gets a break-up fee of $65,000.

John Cook’s story notes that the Washington Secretary of State has gotten numerous complaints about Drayton. But all of this, while crazy, appears to be perfectly legal. Which means your league could soon be perfectly fucked. And that’s why Drayton is a serial entreprenuer who gets on magazine covers, and you are not.

Terry Drayton’s latest legal trouble

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The beleaguered owner of Count Me In, which was forced into bankruptcy after running up a $5 million in IOUs to youth sports organizations that used it for online registration services, is now extra beleaguered. The Seattle tech news site TechFlash reports that a company called The Active Network has sued Count Me in for patient infringement. (The lawsuit itself is here.)

(By the way, I should apologize for getting to this a few days’ late. Given that Terry Drayton and Count Me In are very popular search terms for this site, you’d figure I’d be all over this at least in the name of giving the [very angry] people what they want.)

draytonIf cruel irony is what you readers want, here it is.

San Diego-based Active claims an affiliate of Count Me In has infringed on its online registration-related patent, titled “METHOD AND SYSTEM OF ELECTRONICALLY RECEIVING AND PROCESSING MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION
OF AN ORGANIZATION.” (Apropos of nothing, it was granted Sept. 11, 2001.) Active is saying that Arena Group, Count Me In’s parent, used this patent as part of its own online registration program — and used the Active registered trademark to boot.

Active says Seattle-based Count Me In had prior knowledge of its patent before using it, through the lawsuit doesn’t spell out how anyone at Count Me In knew about it. Drayton and Count Me In have not yet responded to the lawsuit.

The Active Network filed this case in federal court in Seattle. A similar lawsuit Active brought in federal court in southern California, was dismissed in February, only a few weeks after filing. That doesn’t speak well for Active’s chances of winning. Even if it won, what would it get out of a bankrupt company that can’t pay the bills it already has?

But that might be beside the point. Active is a Count Me In competitor and has its own competitive reasons for wanting to crush a company already forced in bankruptcy by the some of youth sports organization to which it owed money. Actually, Active has been, um, active on various web sites doing a little grave dancing on Count Me In and trying to sell its own product, which is used by Little League Baseball. (Look at the comment sections here and the last paragraph of this story. Certainly, even a mention on this little ol’ blog will make Active executives smile.

Belated Terry Drayton update

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Here is a Jan. 28 release from Terry Drayton of Count Me In Corp., which came up about $5 million short in paying back youth sports organizations and others that used its services to collect league fees and such. Drayton continues to assert that everything would have been just fine and dandy had leagues not been so gosh-darn impatient. (Like any reader impatient it took me a few days to get around to this.)

Count Me In Corporation (CMIC) today announced it was unable to prevent an involuntary Chapter 7 bankruptcy petition and expects the court to appoint a trustee to take over the online registration and league management software company and handle liquidation of its assets.

On January 8, three Alaska-based sports club clients asked the Federal Bankruptcy Court to take over CMIC’s operations on January 28 unless the eight-year old organization could show it was paying its obligations as they became due. Those clubs are among 220 clubs and organizations across the country that CMIC owes about $5 million in outstanding online registration fees.

“We’ve been working for months in this incredibly difficult economy to find a buyer for CMIC that would allow us to repay our clients,” said Terry Drayton, CMIC CEO. “We got very close in November and were very close again this week to securing a deal but the immovable deadline of the involuntary bankruptcy petition put us in an impossible position.

“We asked the three clubs to withdraw their petition, as we didn’t think it was in the best interests of all clients, but they refused,” he added.

According to Drayton, CMIC was working with one well-qualified buyer, but the company withdrew their bid on Monday, concluding it could not complete the transaction by the January 28 deadline.

As part of Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the court appointed trustee will now take charge of liquidating CMIC’s assets and distributing the proceeds among the company’s debtors.

Drayton also announced that CMIC’s parent company Arena Group, Inc., which is not part of the bankruptcy filing, will keep all client Web sites up and running and continue to provide technical support, allowing the clubs and teams to continue to function normally while the trustee works to find a buyer.

“At least we can keep supporting the clubs for the time being and minimize their pain, including helping clients process credit card charge-backs,” Drayton added.

“This is an incredibly sad day for our Count Me In Corporation clients,” continued Drayton. “It was my intention to repay every penny we owed to our clients. Unfortunately this involuntary bankruptcy won’t help achieve that, but now it is out of my hands.”

In the company’s eight years of operation, CMIC collected about $175 million for its clients and remitted $170 million, or more than 97 percent.

According to Drayton, the company can account for every penny of the $5 million shortfall, noting the funds went to normal operating costs in incremental amounts such as improving technology and paying staff salaries over the past eight years.

Geez, it gave back 97 percent of the money it was sworn to reimburse. Is that not enough for you jackals?

No.

The Nordic Skiing Association of Anchorage was one of the three organizations that forced Count Me In into bankruptcy. It’s owed $150,000. From the Anchorage Daily News:

“I don’t see this as a victory until everyone gets their money back,” skiing association executive director Dianne Moxness said.

Moxness said the association has not talked to Count Me In, although there have been written communications.

“They sent us an e-mail, later a letter, asking us to withdraw our petition” to force Chapter 7 bankruptcy, Moxness said. The association e-mailed back that Count Me in should “speak to our attorney,” she added.

“And they never contacted him.”

An 8-year-old company, CMI was set up to handle registrations and online credit card payments for sports and youth programs. The company took a percentage of the payments for handling the online bookkeeping and passed the bulk of the money along to the organizations, many of which are — like the ski club — nonprofits.

Up until this year, the system worked fine, said Moxness. But then Count Me In stopped sending checks even as it continued to collect payments.

It has been reported the company was diverting funds that should have gone back to its clients in order to help pay for a pricey new computer system, although it remains for an independent, court-appointed trustee to determine exactly where the money went.

Written by rkcookjr

February 2, 2009 at 4:50 pm