In the past several years, technology has played an increasingly integral role in high school and recreational athletics. Websites such as MaxPreps give parents, friends and fans the ability to track their teams from anywhere in the world, including Westchester County.
Moreover, coaches, officials and reporters have begun to post results to these sites immediately after games and some even upload play-by-play results during the game so others at home can follow along with the action.
Several Westchester area high school and rec teams, including Ossining High School’s baseball team, have made use of one such service called GameChanger. Co-founder and CEO Ted Sullivan said technology provides a previously untapped resource for fans.
“I think there’s still lots of opportunity. Like in any market, especially in media, technology is just drastically changing everything,” Sullivan said. “There’s just a tidal wave of new opportunities to enhance people’s existing experiences around amateur sports.”
Sullivan pitched at Duke University and played for a few years in the Cleveland Indians' minor league system. After that, he went back to school, received his MBA and worked at a mobile apps company in New York City in 2006 and 2007.
While in New York, Sullivan coached Little League and felt that the amateur sports market was underserved by mobile and web outlets. To that end, Sullivan founded GameChanger in 2009 and launched it with his business partner, Kiril Savino, in early 2010.
Sullivan pointed to the relative lack of information available to a parent or fan sitting in the bleachers at a high school or little league game as a problem that technology can solve. Information such as pitch count, the name of the batter in the on-deck circle or a player’s batting average can all be disseminated through a service such as GameChanger.
“The only information or context you have (at a youth or high school game) is, if you’re lucky, a small scoreboard that shows score, count and inning,” Sullivan said. “There’s really so much more that you (can) get from that experience.”
GameChanger provides reporters, parents and fans with the choice to sit at home and follow along with the game rather than physically sit in the stands. But Sullivan is not worried that his service will cause a dip in attendance.
Instead, he sees GameChanger’s primary presence on mobile devices such as iPads, iPhones and Android devices as a way for those at the games to have a better experience. It also allows parents who might be at work and unable to attend the game to check up on their child’s performance.
“We don’t necessarily think that we’re replacing the experience of being at the game,” Sullivan said. “A mom or a dad is going to be at the game if they can. What we offer is a solution if they can’t be at the game.”
According to Sullivan, 30,000 teams from around the world used the service last year and 15,000 have used it to this point in 2012.