Field Of Dreams

Team Spirit

Success in a sporting event franchise rests mainly on two skills: salesmanship and organization. For most sports enthusiasts, the first one comes easily. If you love the game, it's not hard to sell it. "Pool is the one sport anyone can play, and no matter how good you get, there's always room for improvement," says Brooker. "I feel good knowing I've brought my style of therapy into the lives of literally hundreds of people whose days are hopefully a little brighter because of it." If you're having fun running your business, it won't be difficult to convince customers it will be fun to participate.

Organization is just as important. "There's a series of many things that have to happen behind the scenes for the [events] to work," says Dave King. "The timeline is well out in front." Once the season starts, you have to keep up with your current players, score and run events, and simultaneously plan your next season by finding venues and new recruits.

"Anyone who gets involved with sports [franchising] has to realize you're involved because you love sports," says May. "You're going to put in some long hours because your job is to cater to people in their recreational time."

Though a sporting event franchise may not yield you millions, it's relatively inexpensive to get into and offers room for growth. The APA currently has 164 franchises, with only 50 percent of the nation covered. With an estimated 4 million Americans playing pool every week, it's not surprising the largest APA franchisee leads more than 1,000 teams.

Triple Crown Sports plans to slowly franchise the territories the corporate headquarters currently runs in 35 states, though Dave King says the company is in no hurry to do so. "We're a little different than a lot of companies because we're in no hurry to sell the next 10 franchises. We want to get the right 10 franchisees."

Looking back over the past 20 years of the computer age, it's not surprising so many people crave both a social and physical outlet to participate in outside of work. And with new sports popping up all the time, there'll be even more choices for weekend warriors. "There are so many levels of opportunity to participate within the existing sports that we have," says May. "When you throw in the mix of new sports that have come on the scene in the past 10 years--in-line skating, in-line hockey, snowboarding--the number of people who are involved in some type of grass-roots sports effort has probably never been higher." With so many sports and so many players, maybe it's time for you to get off that bench and see how competitive you really are.

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This article was originally published in the July 1999 print edition of Entrepreneur with the headline: Field Of Dreams.

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