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Refs, umps and apps: Mobile apps for school sports
The school year has started and with it is a wide array of sporting events! From players to parents, students to fans, everyone wants to be in the loop on game day! What better way to keep people connected than with the help of mobile apps?As of March 2012, 48 percent of Canadian mobile phone users had a smart phone, up from just 33% the year before. Clearly, that number is only going up! Why not take advantage of that fact to connect with your fan base?

App features
First thing’s first, what do you want your mobile app to do? What functionalities do you want it to have? Think about who will be using it and what features would be the most useful to them. Here are some ideas about features that may be useful when it comes to athletics.

Who: The team. “Extra extra, read all about it!” Give fans all the information they’re looking for on the team and its players. Provide the team’s record (wins vs. losses, final scores, etc.) along with bios and stats on each player.

What: The schedule.
With so many sports, not to mention the various teams for different grades and skill levels, it’s hard to keep track of what’s happening and when. Provide mobile users with an up-to-date listing of each team’s schedule so they can mark their calendars.

Where: The location.
It’s game day! Home or away? Provide fans with the address and an interactive map they can use for directions. Once they’ve made it to the game, let fans “check-in” on the app so all their friends know they’re there to support the team!

When: The change.
Games get cancelled, the location can switch, etc.—send out push notifications to keep everyone updated. An internal alert or update feature on the app will stay in-tune to important information so nothing gets overlooked.

Why: The buzz.
Give app users a little extra by posting videos and photos of the game. Show key plays, a snippet of the half-time performance, photos of the fans cheering on their team, etc. Then, let people upload their own photos and leave comments and well wishes for the team below!

With the 5 W’s covered, fans will be lining up for an invite to use your app. As long as you make the content useful and engaging, you can’t go wrong.

Spread the word

After the app is made, it’s time for launch. Let people know about this great tool and start to build its user base.

Get the word out at pep rallies. Throw mini footballs or basketballs into the crowd. On them, have information on what the app does and where to download it. Get the cheerleaders involved by passing out branded bandanas or foam cheer noodles that everyone can bring to the next game.

Create buzz on game day and have the players wear T-shirts promoting the mobile app. Place a large QR code on the back of the T-shirt so that people can scan the code and get direct access to the app.

Use game day to distribute information about the app. Place information about it in the sports programs or print a large banner and attach it to the bottom of the score board!

Now that you have potential users intrigued, make sure you’re available to field their questions. Most smart phone users won’t have problems figuring out how to access the app, but be ready for those who do. Set up a booth inside the gates that will have volunteers ready to help users answer any questions they may have—from download to usability.

Do what you can
While a mobile app may be the most user-friendly option for sharing your team’s information, it may not be feasible for schools on a tight budget. If so, don’t worry. Many of the app features discussed can be realized for FREE via various social media platforms such as Facebook®, Flicker®, Foursquare® or YouTube®.

Sporting events are a great way to build school spirit, camaraderie and community support. A mobile app may be just the ticket for growing your fan base and winning the game!

Canadian Wireless Telecommunications Association. “2012 Cell Phone Consumer Attitudes Sturdy.2012 Cell Phone Consumer Attitudes Survey. CWTA.ca, 23 April 2012. Web. 3 Aug. 2012.

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