Adult Sport Leagues Have Found Their Golden Ticket: Millennials

Image credit: Martin Steinthaler | Getty Images

Millennials get a bad rap. I disagree with their critics, most recently Bill Maher, who label millennials as lazy and entitled.  In my experience, the vast majority of millennials, those born roughly between 1980-2000, I've worked alongside with have been hard-working and well-adjusted employees.

But make no mistake, a generational shift beyond the workplace is happening. For those in the adult sports league industry, this shift is a boon for business. 

According to Sports Marketing Surveys USA, a research company that provides data for the Sports and Fitness Industry Association, millennials are twice as likely as their Generation X counterparts to participate in team sports as adults.

The already highly-fragmented adult sports league industry will continue to widen as more start-ups hope to capitalize on this market shift. Will your adult sports league be positioned to take advantage of this trend?

Keep this in mind as you start your venture...


Mobile Is King

Today's smartphone, especially for millennials, is a portal to the world. They expect their smartphone to be their primary channel for all communication and engagement. Connecting to their virtual world off the court is becoming table stakes for successful adult sports leagues.    

Make sure your website is mobile-friendly and easy to navigate to your scores, schedules and other key information. Keep it simple.  


Highlight your customers in social media 

Save your $10 off promotional deal for email. Millennials expect your social media channels to be about them. How are you serving them? How can they rally in support of your purpose? Capture photos and videos of your customers engaging in your business and share them on your accounts. Make sure you tag them.

Your customers are the stars of your social media strategy. Millennials will thank you by returning each season...and bringing their followers with them.


Simple, seamless online payment

We are quickly becoming a cashless society. 23% of millennials are already carrying less than $5 of cash in their wallet, outpacing the Gen X and Baby Boomer generations before them. Luckily, companies like Square make online transactions for small businesses a layup.

If you want to be truly progressive, make online payments the only option. If you want to keep accepting cash for payments, fine. Just expect quizzical looks from your millennials participants when you collect cash from Gen Xers at your grand opening.


Use a technology-enabled sports facility

One of the many benefits of Ultimate Hoops being acquired by Life Time is our adult recreational basketball leagues operate in the most-innovative, forward-thinking facilities in the world.

Millennials expect high-speed wi-fi at sports facilities.  They expect smartphone charging stations. Clean courts, scoreboards and glass backboards, once a key differentiator for adult sports leagues, are table stakes in 2018.

Rent the best technology-enabled facility you can find, even if it's the most expensive, and price your league accordingly to preserve your target profit margin. 

Highlight the technology features to your millennials players the moment they enter the facility. They will respect you for considering their technology needs. You will drive your acquisition and brand awareness strategy the simpler you make it for millennials to share their league experience on their social accounts.

If you are an adult league sports owner, It's time to start celebrating the millennial generation. They are your golden ticket to building a profitable foundation for the next generation (hello, Gen Z!) to follow.