Fragmentation = Opportunity in High School Sports Data

March 29, 2013

From the smallest town newspaper in rural Alaska, to ESPN – high school sports stats are seemingly everywhere, and the demand for the data is voracious.  While it seems high school sports data is abundant, there is no single source of data with over 10% market share.  High school sports fans are forced to go from site to site to piece together this incomplete information (much of which does not exist on any site or publication).  As a result, millions of fans of high school sports across the country have settled for the incomplete access to athlete stats as “par for the course” or “too difficult of a problem to solve on a massive scale.”

There have been services created to solve this problem but they fell short and continue to fall short on execution and market share growth because they have been attacking the problem from the wrong angle.  The approach of these companies has been a failed attempt to force-modify the deeply ingrained habits of tens of thousands of high school coaches across the country by requiring the use of the company’s proprietary application or website to track/report stats.  Other companies such as Rivals and Scout have poured huge dollars into staff and 3rd party reporters to generate their high school stats and recruiting content, but this method too is flawed by the sheer volume of dollars required to record all the statistical data with paid reporters.

The truth is, nearly all high school sports statistics are self-reported to newspapers by the coaches themselves.  It is a system that has been around for over 80 years.  So, it’s not a problem of action, it is a problem of ingrained habits and scale.  Currently every team for every competitive sport has a stat-tracker assigned to track the stats for each and every event.  These stats are then sent to the local and state-wide news publications to be reported to the public.  The reporting method is not broken, but there has never been a successful aggregating method for this data.  Even if one were to crawl the web for each published statistic, it would not account for the newspapers that chose not to publish the stats for that game, or only publish the stats for prep sports on a weekly or bi-weekly publishing schedule.  The resulting data would be incomplete, old and useless.

We have a solution that our team has been working extremely hard on.  I can’t stop smiling about it.  The task is huge, but it is equally inspiring.  I decided to share this because we will be looking for some enthusiastic, smart, hard workers to help us as we grow in the coming months.  I have been filled with so much energy the past few weeks as we have been coding the architecture and preparing a launch strategy I am ready to jump out of my skin.  If you love sports, enjoy working on hard problems and are looking to get involved in something absolutely HUGE – contact me.  Even if we don’t end up working together, honest input on the product will be extremely valuable for both of us.  It’s going to be a wild ride folks – stay tuned.. :-)

Expand the Radius | The Journey from Good to Great

March 24, 2013

Over a decade ago I remember reading the book Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap…and Others Don’t. I have most definitely forgotten much of the meat of the book today, but a key premise has been bubbling up in my subconscious repeatedly the last few days:  “Good is the Enemy of Great.”  This is a concept that can be just as true for people as it is for companies.   It means that “good” can turn into complacency and slow the drive for innovation, growth and personal improvement.  I’ve spent a lot of time thinking recently about how that concept applies to us as humans, our respective growth curves and what we ultimately ‘get out’ of the short time we have on this planet.

When we are young we all have a vision of our ‘great’ future selves; a wish-list so to speak.  Many folks are thrown off the scent of their ideal when entering adulthood and being forced to ride the roller coaster up and down cycles that all humans tend to go through emotionally, financially and spiritually.  The fear of repeating the lows in any of these categories can force a gradual recalibration of goals and dreams (often subconsciously).  This process over time completely reroutes the vision of what a “great” life is, and what is possible.  The new ideal becomes one not of growth, challenges and infinite possibilities, but one of seeking equilibrium to avoid the discomfort of the roller coaster downs.

This comes down to the classic pain/pleasure principal.  People by nature will seek pleasure but will go to great lengths to avoid pain/discomfort.  Growth is uncomfortable and that fact poses a problem if we run from the pain necessary to achieve our ideal pleasure.  My conscious solution to this has been a conditioning of my mental image of what growth is and what it means to me.  I have been doing this by envisioning myself standing at the barrier of my present capability/comfort level in any one skill and making myself take a step over the barrier (see primitive diagram above). The programmed reward for me is the act of mentally stepping over that barrier.  The feeling of discomfort becomes a mental reward for the expansion of the skill radius.

By doing this exercise over the past several days I have found myself slowly pushing through some previous stagnated mental blocks I had conditioned in both my personal and professional life (many of which I did not know existed).  Instead of avoiding the discomfort, I am finding myself seeking opportunities to test my resolve to take that step.  As a result, some incredible progress has been made in the past week that has translated into an even deeper quest for conscious personal growth.

We all have goals (conscious or unconscious) for our personal and professional lives, and I came to realize that my conscious ideal for each is impossible to reach without exercising forced discomfort in a frequent (daily) cycle to improve upon various skills.  I wrote a note to myself that I keep in my office next to my monitor that reads “Expand the Radius” as a reminder to not just accept the good in my life but to consciously step over the perceived barrier of comfort to put myself in a position to discover the better version of good.