sunrise over soccer fields

Soccer in the trust economy

Who do you trust?

It’s not an idle question for us. From the very first day we launched TourneyCentral, we wanted the tournament systems we created to be about the tournament event, not our own self-promotion. Our mission has always been an attempt to solve one problem; get that one player to the right game at the right time. When we do that well, everything else falls into place.

We vowed back then — 19 years ago — that each event would own its own data, its own advertising and sponsors. We would never resell or share your hard-earned data in any way.

Our rock-solid software and support would be OUR branding, that we would support your marketing efforts; because your success is our success. Your branding of quick scoring, accurate scheduling and the information teams need to attend and compete readily available would keep them coming back — win, lose or draw. While we sometimes take some heat for being a “template” solution, we know deep in our bones that the teams breathe a sign of relief when they get to your tournament website and see everything there, with no nonsense to get what they need to do; apply, register, view the schedule and maps and get their scores.

You deserve to trust that when you have a question or issue about your event site (or just want some advice) we are there to help you; not as an email 48 hours later, but a human being who cares as much about your event as you do.

It has paid off and we continue to support these values even as the trend has been to collect and monetize data. That’s just not how we roll. We will never sell your data.

With that in mind, we hope you’ll check out and support the tournaments we care for each season. The QR Code below will bring you to our calendar.

We’ll see you on the pitch!

TourneyCentral at the 2018 United Soccer Coaches (NSCAA) Convention

TourneyCentral will be at the 2018 United Soccer Coaches (NSCAA) Convention, in booth 618. Stop by and say hi…and grab some free stuff, like a game starting coin that spins.

Our booth is being run by the folks at Premier Athletic Advertising so while you are looking for hosting software to power your tournament, take a look at their services for tournaments as well as their calendar of events for your teams.

See everyone in Philly.

Favorite Places: (list might grow)
Tony Luke’s (cheesesteak… don’t do Pats or Genos… break the cycle)
Jim Steaks (second best, but only by a tiny sliver..within walking distance)
Sarcone’s Bakery
Anthony’s Italian Coffee House
Bank and Bourbon

Contact us:
If you saw us at Booth 618 or heard about us through the convention grapevine and are interested in TourneyCentral for your soccer tournament, drop us a line.

How the repeal of Net Neutrality rules could affect soccer tournaments

I recently had an informal meeting with one of our Ohio-based soccer tournament directors and the issue most raised during our conversation was the various ways we helped bring value to their event was by being available as human support. As I watched the FCC take a vote to repeal Net Neutrality on Dec 14, 2017, I couldn’t help thinking how that decision could potentially affect the soccer tournament industry, which has fully embraced the internet as the de facto platform to market, communicate, register and manage games through websites and apps.

I crafted this letter to my elected Ohio representatives with that conversation still fresh in my head.

Since 1999, TourneyCentral has been the front door for close to a million soccer players, their families and fans each year. Furthermore, since we are based in a military town with WPAFB as an integral member of our community, our soccer tournament websites have afforded parents who found themselves stationed in Iraq, Afghanistan and other places around the world to engage actively with their kids as they played in soccer tournaments. We have stories we could share; they are heartwarming.

Our business depends on a stable and predictable access to the internet.

As a small business incorporated and based in Ohio — one that provides jobs, tax revenue and increases the economic impact of other small businesses — I am concerned about the cost of providing affordable access to the tournament websites for our tournament directors. But more importantly, I am concerned that my customers have ready access to human tech support when they most need it, so they can provide a quality tournament-going experience for their guest teams, players, families and fans.

As a company and as an active member of the soccer community, we do not support the repeal of NetNeutrality. The Net Neutrality rules are not perfect, but anything less than the protections and access they currently afford the soccer community is untenable.

As a company that believes strongly in the superiority of human support over chat bots and AI, we also seek out suppliers of hosting and other services that share our values. We believe that even as the line-item cost of purchasing these services is higher, it reduces our overall costs due to increased productivity working with skilled people.

Our soccer customers (many who are volunteers who do not develop technology) also want and need human-supported help for their tournament technology. TourneyCentral provides this much-needed service. With the FCC’s repeal of Net Neutrality in yesterday’s vote, we will most likely be forced to continue to seek out providers and services that reduce our costs elsewhere so we can continue to provide the human touch our customers tell us they need and want.

We recognize that the trends are towards automation and we’re not fighting evolution. However, at some point, we as a society need to recognize when we need to provide a human touch for human activities. The goal here is a balance between automating those things that computers do well with human skills that humans do better. Few things are more human-centric (or as satisfying) for us than talking a tournament director through a critical tech process at 11pm on a Friday night, with only a few hours before they host a soccer tournament for thousands of players, their families and fans, and the local community.

It is our official position that our elected representatives introduce and pass legislation that protects access to all of the legal parts of the internet, regardless of content.

While access to the internet is foremost a human issue for us, it is also a business issue. The lack of open access to the internet endangers not only the soccer tournament business and the soccer community, it stands to limit all organized youth sports, including football, basketball and the most American sport, baseball. It also endangers the small businesses that rely on their support.

Soccer is a welcoming, benevolent community. Help us continue this fine tradition of supporting and engaging in our communities through sport by keeping this in mind as you take up votes regarding the repeal Net Neutrality many in our community now rely on for access to their teams. For many, their soccer team is their life’s purpose.

I understand that national laws operate at a 30,000 ft level. I just wanted to give you a small example of the unintended consequences of these regulations at a ground zero level. In the whole scheme of what Net Neutrality means for the entire internet, TourneyCentral is a tear in a rainstorm. But for that one grandparent who only wishes to see his grandkids play at a local event, it means everything. That is what drives us and what I hope sticks in your mind as you review potential legislation regarding Net Neutrality.

I urge you to vote with this in mind; to think not only of the wider arc of the health of the internet, but also the health of the businesses that rely it, including your own Ohio-based, TourneyCentral.

if your soccer tournament isn;t real time, you missed out

The 90 minute attention span

Your soccer tournament has a 90 minute attention span. In and of itself, this is neither a good or a bad thing, it’s just how it is. By understanding what this means across all your channels — on-site and on-line — you can capture your soccer tournament audience attention where it lives; in real time, in the moment.

Here’s how.

We bleed our heart and soul into our soccer tournament. We sweat the details of seeding, scheduling, coaching conflicts, having enough port-a-johns, sourcing and scheduling referees, ordering trophies, attracting sponsors and local media. The teams should be able to see all that hard work and appreciate your event for the marvel of organization that it is.

The truth is, though, they don’t.

The truth is most soccer tournament participants have a 90 minute attention span for your event; an event that you’ve poured your heart and soul into for the previous 362 days leading up to it from last year.

It doesn’t seem fair.

It probably isn’t fair, but that is your reality. Knowing that, how will you steer your event?

Every participant — on site or online — is a micro-influencer. Every participant is creating content for their own audience, regardless of how small or large it is. How are you leveraging that knowledge and connection?

Lots of graphic content is being captured at your soccer tournament, but unless you are connected to the social streams of your participants, you aren’t seeing any of it. It is being shared in the layer of connection under the radar, between friends and teammates, between and among parents and cliques. But mostly, even when you have “official” social channels, few people are connecting, friending, downloading and sharing. Little that is posted “officially” is interesting and sharable.

Your traffic flow
Are you managing your on-line traffic the same as you did five years ago? Here are some general traffic patterns we see. (This is Memorial Day Weekend, but choose any two days prior to and after your tournament and you will see roughly the same pattern.)




The world is mobile; it is real-time. Your marketing and sponsorship exposure needs to move there as well.

Basically, what is happening is you are now probably going to get as much traffic as you will ever get to your website. In fact, it may even decline somewhat over the next few years before it plateaus. That is neither good nor bad — unless you are starting now to sell general traffic to your sponsors. That would be bad, because that is not where your engagement traffic is today. Your audience comes to your website to get transactional data; when does my team play, what is the score, is that a rule, can I get a DEAL on the place down the street… Once they get what they want, they bounce.

Most of the time, they bounce into their social streams; mainly Instagram, Facebook, sometimes Twitter. If you do not have a presence there, you missed engaging your audience when you had their 90 minutes of attention.

You missed it.

Our advice: Get your soccer tournament on glass. If you don’t have an Instagram account, get one and post a mix of shareable content (this was #1, this was #2, this was #3 for engagement. Study them, figure out why.) A good Instagram account has a mix of photos and videos, very light game action, some unique sponsor angles, heavy personal interest and an early trust that the person running the Instagram account, pointing the camera at the participants, will show them in their best light. Trust is key.

Everything is real time. Plan in advance for what you want to cover. Edit as you post, but don’t plan on post edits. Stay flexible and loose. Keep your batteries charged and your data plan fat. Once the teams advance into the finals, you will lose 2/3rds of your traffic. As the finals wrap up, you’ll lose the rest. Plan for that traffic pattern. There is no, “I’ll post that tomorrow.”

Be funny, be witty, be clever, but never be mean. Ever. Never embarrass someone. If you have doubts about whether or not to use the shot, ask! If there is any hesitation, delete it from the phone/camera for good, in front of them and move on. You’ll get more good shots.

But mostly, be there, be all there. There is no second chance, there are no added minutes to score.

Tiny details make a big difference

Recently, to accommodate a larger holiday meal, another batch of forks were added to my cutlery drawer by someone who thinks a fork is a fork is a fork is a fork.

The fork on top is thin and well-balanced, with long, tapered tines and a flat handle that rests against my palm. It feels like an extension of my hand as I deftly navigate my way through the food on my plate to my mouth.

The fork on the bottom has short blunt tines, with a thin handle where I struggle to keep the fork aligned with my knife. It feels like I’m fighting my fighting my food, bludgeoning it to give up its home on the plate.

What do forks have to do with a soccer tournament? Everything!

Our Advice: If you are using TourneyCentral to manage your soccer tournament event, you are already honing the user experience for your tournament. We are obsessive about sharpening the tines and shaping the handle so your web site and management tools feel like an extension of your event.

But you can do more.

Make sure your news on the front page is clear and concise. Keep updating the news for your event during the tournament. On the ground, make sure your signage to the parking is clear and visible. Make sure all your volunteers know the web address, the twitter, facebook, snapchat and instagram accounts. Update the scores as quickly as you can after the games. Post the standings in real time. Dedicate one or two people (depending on your tournament size) to posting scores during the tournament–that is all they do.

Broadcast about your vendors and sponsors on a schedule. Make this part of their sponsorship package, especially the vendors who rely on you for foot traffic to their on-site booth.

Build a media team.

Highlight some of your guest teams. Write short personal stories about them. Include human interest photos. Crop your photos well; don’t just slap up a team photo. Show your tournament personality. Capture the fun and excitement, the agony and the joy of being there. Shine a spotlight on some of the attendees by picking them out of a crowd and showing an interest in their story. (Get permission from their parents, please, if you are posting photos of minors… preferably a release your media volunteers already have. It’s 2017; be mindful.)

Make stickers with your tournament logo and social channels, maybe even establish a special “secret” instagram or snapchat account they can join. Kids love stickers. (Their parents secretly love stickers, too. Really.) Make sure your volunteers have a ready supply and hand them out generously.

Create a program/yearbook and publish it using CreateSpace, then push it to the Amazon store where participants and their families can buy it for a nominal price. Make it special so it is worth buying by designing it. Yes, hire a graphic designer… a good one.

Give your guest teams a seamless experience, from registration through posting the schedule and field maps to finding the games to enjoying the social activities to connecting with you on social to chatting about your tournament on the ride home to not being able to wait until next year to participate in your tournament. Expand the 90 Minute Attention Span a few more minutes.

Tiny details, huge user experience difference.