Best Practices for Selecting Vendor Partners for Youth Sports Organizations

vendor agreements youth sports contracts

Several years ago published an article titled “How to Choose the Right Software Vendor”, which offers some valuable insight to help organizations decide on some of the most important relationships that impact their daily workflow.

The article breaks the decision-making process down into several important areas, which we further shed light on below, especially as it relates to the growing youth sports industry:

  • Figure out what it is you really need – Before talking with any potential new business partners, get your team together internally to discuss any current hurdles or challenges, along with desired improvements to your workflow. As Steven A. Lowe, Principal Consultant at ThoughtWorks indicates, “If you know what you want, ideally separated into a must-have list and a nice-to-have list, it will be much easier to figure out if any given solution fits your business–and to resist ‘shiny’ things.” In simple words, make sure the solution you’re considering actually meets your needs.
  • Check the software provider’s credentials and certificates – This is especially important in today’s volatile youth sports technology market. With the amount of consolidation, acquisition and unfortunate failure; it’s crucial to understand the foundation of the companies you’re partnering with: How long have they been in business? How has their technology grown over time? What types of partnerships do they have? Are they PCI Certified? How sound is their infrastructure? What is their data model and how will they protect your member data?
  • What do other customers have to say? This may likely be one of the most critical questions. Ask for references and find out how long they’ve been a customer, how their technology needs are being met, and how supportive, responsive and knowledgeable their team is. Chat with other organizations in your network to find out what the company’s reputation is.
  • Can it scale? This is an important question as it relates to future growth and emerging technology; has the company shown the ability to scale over time to meet market demands and to grow with your evolving needs? Malcolm Cowley, CEO of the Performance Horizon Group, hits the nail on the head when he said, “The last thing CIOs and other technology decision-makers want to be faced with is the need to re-evaluate and invest in a new solution two or three years down the road, when the existing system can’t handle the company’s emerging needs.” Before talking about price, first make sure the solution will meet your needs, both now and according to your growth plan. If the solution doesn’t meet your needs, cost is irrelevant.
  • Check for hidden or additional fees. Make sure you understand the full financial impact of the partnership:
    • Evaluate setup fees, recurring fees, and usage fees such as per player/per team fees.
    • If you’re processing online transactions, it’s imperative to calculate the total cost of credit card transaction fees – not only the various percentages across card types, but also per transaction fees, monthly gateway/account fees, etc.
    • Review the fine details of the agreements’s termination clause. Are you locked in for multiple years? Are there any early termination fees?
    • Equally important is to understand any additional fees you may incur due to any software deficiencies you uncover. Will there be any third party costs you’d have to incur to fill any gaps? Will there be any extra hard or soft costs due to lack of integration across platforms?
  • Who gets custody of your data? Most especially in the world of youth sports where member data has turned into a perceived “gold rush” of the current decade, it’s important to remember that your organization owns your member data (or at least you should). Be sure to find out before you enter into a new vendor agreement what they will do with your valuable member data while you’re a client, as well as after you leave. These are crucial questions to ask to ensure protection and privacy of your members.
    • What is the vendor’s privacy policy?
    • Will they use your member data for financial gain?
    • Will they market to or sell off your data?
    • How easy will it be to get access to your data after you move on?
    • Will there be a fee to obtain your data once the partnership is over?
  • Take a test drive. Now that you’ve had a chance to identify with your team what your must-haves and nice-to-haves are, make sure the software you’re considering meets your needs. Go through a full demo of how the tools will address your specific needs. Ask the vendor if they will provide access to a demo site, or if there’s a free trial option that will allow you to test the system before you commit to pay.

Navigating the waters of vendor research can be cumbersome and even frustrating at times, but these steps will guide you to help ensure you’re making the best decision possible, given the specific needs of your organization.

Demosphere has been serving the youth sports community since our humble beginnings in 1990, and we commit to bringing experience, authenticity, integrity and a strong sense of community to the conversation. If you’re interested in evaluating integrated solutions to help solve some of your complex technology needs, we invite you to contact us today!

Demosphere’s mission is to provide authentic, industry-leading technology solutions for organized sports, accommodating the needs of all levels of organizations, and all levels of users, with an ethical approach in how to impact the greater community.


Post-NSCAA 2017 Recap

NSCAA 2017

Demosphere attended the National Soccer Coaches Association of America Convention (NSCAA) in Los Angeles last week and we’re still recovering from a whirlwind of a trip! Our team pulled off an amazing feat to prepare for the convention and bring everything together in order to have such a successful experience at a convention that large.

Demosphere has attended the NSCAA for 14 years and this was one of the best yet! Despite the anticipation that a West Coast show would not be as heavily attended, this year’s event was the second-most well-attended convention in the organization’s 76-year history – pretty amazing!

This annual event is by far the best networking event in the soccer community; a who’s who of soccer in the United States, and the growing momentum in 2017 was palpable. The week began with the annual Women in Soccer Symposium where a collection of highly respected contributors come together “to celebrate diversity in the beautiful game as it acknowledges the long road ahead to equality”.

Later in the week attendees had an opportunity to see the live draft for the National Women’s Soccer League (NWSL), as well as the 2017 SuperDraft for Major League Soccer, along with hundreds of educational sessions geared toward soccer coaches, hosted by both NSCAA and U.S. Youth Soccer.

Several award ceremonies throughout the week also honored various members of the soccer community, including one of Demosphere’s longtime friends, Louise Waxler, Executive Director of McLean Youth Soccer and one of our newest friends, Greg Mauch, boys coach at Canterbury School in Fort Wayne, IN; both of whom received a Long-Term Service Award for their contributions and service to both the NSCAA and the game. Tennessee Soccer Club’s (TSC) Ronnie Woodard also took home the prestigious Coach of the Year Award – TSC has been a valued customer of Demosphere’s for many years, initially beginning in 2003, years before their re-brand into the Club they are today.

During our many conversations throughout the week, a few things were clear: soccer in the U.S. is growing at a rapid pace, the community is still trying to figure out how things will evolve (most especially from the top down), and the youth sports market specifically is looking for a more integrated way to handle their growing technology needs to allow them to focus on what they do best: creating and growing programs dedicated to the development of our youth.

Demosphere is dedicated to serving these needs, and our mission is clear:

To provide authentic, industry-leading technology solutions for organized sports, accommodating the needs of all levels of organizations, and all levels of users, with an ethical approach in how to impact the greater community.

Through experience, authenticity, integrity and a strong sense of community, we’re excited to continue serving the needs of youth sports organizations for many more years to come.

Thank you to NSCAA, U.S. Youth Soccer and all the amazing members, attendees, exhibitors and contributors we had the pleasure of connecting with last week!


There is a layer of the atmosphere where we all live, work and play…where all global activity occurs, and where together we share in the spectacle and triumphs of participatory sports.

Sports thrive in the demosphere®


Youth Sports Injuries on the Rise

Earlier this month, CNN reported on a study released by the journal Pediatrics, finding that the annual injury rate for young soccer players jumped by 111% from 1990 to 2014, with older children between 12 and 17 years of age being more than three times as susceptible to injury.

youth_soccer_injury_prevention_programsWith this said, the increase in youth soccer-related injuries coincides with a significant rise in participation for the sport. Groups like US Youth Soccer have seen close to a 100% increase in participation during the study years and many other youth sports are also on the rise.

As you may imagine, concussion-related injuries spiked almost 1,600% from 1990 to 2014. Suspected reasons for this include increased participation, more awareness surrounding concussions, and better recognition of concussions by doctors and coaches due to passing of youth sports concussion laws.

While no one wants to see injuries on the rise, the fact that participation in youth sports is increasing is a good sign – better for kids to be up and active versus the alternative.

Parents can protect their young athletes by ensuring the Clubs in which they participate have good policies surrounding concussion awareness training, good facilities management and emergency action plans. It’s also important to afford children the opportunity to try a variety of different activities during the off season to let their muscles rest and recoup.

Lastly, parents can also protect their wallets by insuring participation fees through groups like NextWave Insurance in the event of injury. Last month we posted about how these insurance policies work, and how to sign your organization up to offer these services to your members through Demosphere.

For more information on Next Wave Insurance, contact our Sales Team at

Protect Your Organization from Email Scams

A few years ago, Demosphere posted about the topic of Email Scams and how to protect yourself. This issue has recently re-surfaced with a few of our clients reporting being the victim of email scams.

In one recent situation, the scam involved an email being sent “from” the President of the Club to the Club’s Treasurer, asking for money to be wired into a specific bank account. Unfortunately, the wire transfer was processed and the money has thus vanished from the Club. Local authorities are working to uncover the source, however it’s improbable that the funds will ever be recovered.

These situations are real and it’s important to learn what you can do to prevent them. Below are some recommendations to help protect the Demosphere community:data privacy

  • Keep passwords secure:  It’s important to keep your passwords safe to avoid unauthorized use of your accounts. Check out our previous post for some tips on managing password security.
  • Verify all financial transactions: If someone in your organization asks you to transfer funds, always question and verify the validity of the request first. In this case it truly is better to be safe than sorry.
  • Don’t post personal email address on your public website: Demosphere recommends using one generic contact email address for your organization on your public website, such as Keep board member, administrative and coaching staff emails private.
    • Demosphere’s WebWriter® CMS  product allows you to create protected content pages, so you can ensure your members have access to the info they need, without exposing your organization to potential phishing scams.Data Privacy
  • Protect your member data: Be sure to review the Privacy Policy of your database provider(s) to ensure contact info, such as email address, are kept private and secure.
    • Part of Demosphere’s mission is to maintain an ethical approach to data privacy to protect the privacy of the children and volunteers in our youth sports community.

Have you had a related experience? Post a comment below and let the Demosphere Community know what to watch out for!

The Travel vs Club Soccer Conundrum

School is out and summer is in full swing. This means pool days, ice-cream, summer camps, and registering for fall sports!

Every parent with a child enrolled in youth sports at some point faces the travel sports conundrum. With all of the options, opportunities, and outside pressures – deciding if competitive travel sports is right for your child is often a stressful decision.

Youth soccer is one of the sports where the more competitive and intense versions are often suggested by coaches, players, and peers.

The sheer volume of options available in the U.S. is often overwhelming, and numerous questions arise. Is my child ready for such intense competition? Will they want to play soccer that many days of the week? Will it be too much pressure for him/her?

If your family is contemplating joining the competitive soccer ranks, there are multiple factors you’ll want to consider to help guide you toward the correct decision for your child.

Time Commitment

A true dedication to travel soccer often means much less time and opportunity for athletes to play other sports. If your young player enjoys participating in multiple sports, enrolling in a travel program might cause scheduling conflicts. Before fully committing to a travel program, you want to make sure that he/she is ready to potentially put other sports on the bench in order to dedicate more time to soccer.

Financial Commitment

financial-equipmentIt’s no secret that travel sports can be quite expensive, and travel soccer is no exception. Between the equipment, team fees, coaching fees, and travel expenses the dollars can really stack up. The more involved your child becomes in the world of travel soccer, the more money and time will be required. Before you and your athlete choose travel soccer, be prepared for a greater financial commitment in exchange for a competitive playing experience.

Physical Toll

Players and parents new to the travel soccer scene often realize that the play is much more intense and often more physical. You want to make sure that your child knows about, and is ready for, the elevated intensity and aggression that comes with competitive soccer.

Learning Experience

learning-experienceThe higher level of competition and lack of guaranteed play time helps young athletes learn discipline and determination. Coaches and players alike take the sport more seriously at the travel level. The teams practice frequently and the players are often required to come to training and games prepared and ready to give 100%. The competitiveness usually requires the players to practice more, both by themselves and with their team, in order to keep their fitness and technical abilities at a high level.

Opportunity To Play More

If your child truly loves soccer, the opportunity to specialize in soccer can be extremely helpful in their soccer-development. If you know your child has the talent and love of the game, the chance to play year-round and sharpen their skills for more than just a few months at time is priceless. Specialization can sometimes be a negative, but if your child is serious about competing at the highest level possible, travel soccer provides the opportunities that other organized sports cannot.

Chance To Improve

improve-skillsAt the end of the day, travel soccer is meant to provide young athletes with the chance to become better soccer players. The increased competition, intensity, superior coaching, and better players around him/her will make them better soccer players. A child who is ready to take the next step and improve his/her game, must have increased competition and better training. While you must be careful to choose the right club, travel soccer as a whole provides the higher quality training and competition that recreational soccer cannot.

Deciding if travel soccer is right for your child is not a decision that you should take lightly as it’s definitely a choice that will effect your entire family. That being said, the fundamental reason for travel soccer is to make your child better at soccer. If your son or daughter has a love for the world’s game and a desire to become a better player, travel soccer (as time consuming and costly as it can be) is your best bet.

Speaking from personal experience, I am extremely appreciative of my parents for giving me the opportunity to play travel soccer and compete against some of the best. I know that they had to make some sacrifices to give me the opportunity, but it gave me the chance to mature and grow both as a player and a person.

What do you think? Have you been involved in travel soccer or are you thinking about getting involved? Be sure to share your stories/thoughts in the comments below!