The 'Language Barrier' in Sports

Sports are a great way to build new connections with all kinds of people from different or similar walks of life. But too often, we feel like we need to know someone in the sport before we try to participate in it. 

When I look back at my sporting experience, I see how true that is. I consider myself a very independent person, and for most of my life, I've organised many of my own and others' sports activities. Some sports I know better than others, but I am generally quite confident that I will quickly learn any new sport without much difficulty. But what prevents me from trying out new sports is not a lack of confidence in my physical ability. It's mostly just that I don't know how to get into it. I don't know the systems and processes used.

But for tennis, I can safely say that I can take the initiative to find and book a tennis court or tournament almost anywhere. I've been involved in tennis for long enough that I know how tennis works. I know what to ask for, and I know the systems that most tennis clubs use. That is until I move to a country where I don't know their language very well. 

When I was in France for a few months, I relied solely on the people I knew and people who could speak English to book tennis courts for me. Trying to book a tennis court in French felt like such an unknown territory that it almost made me think I didn't belong on a tennis court anymore, even though the processes involved were still basically the same.

But that all got me thinking. In a way, trying to book a tennis court in French felt just like trying to find a place to play a new sport for the first time. Separate sports all use different systems and processes to organise and manage their facility and activity bookings. And most of the time, even separate clubs in the same sport use different systems. And that leads to uncertainty and confusion on the user's side, which leads to people playing less sport. In a way, separate sports use different languages.

That means that we need to effectively learn a new language when we try out a new sport. And that means that there is a hurdle that stops people from trying out new sports. I call it the 'language barrier' in sports. And just like we rely on a friend who speaks the language in a foreign country, people want to rely on a friend that speaks the 'language' of a sport before they try it out. And that causes people to play less sport than they'd like.

But that hurdle is overcomeable. We need a tool that 'translates' the 'languages' used in different sports, or a tool that unifies the process used to try out new sports. A tool that people use to organise or try out all sports. Something easy to use and can be used anywhere and for any sport. And something that takes away some of the confusion and frustration of organising sports activities.

And one tool that will achieve that is a uniform online booking system that lists all sports facilities and activities and allows all users to book any activity with the same easy three or four steps. Such a tool will break down the barriers of entry into sports. And it will inevitably cause participation rates in all sports to increase.