Proving that big money isn’t limited to the professional leagues, i9 Sports, the world’s first and fastest-growing youth sports franchise, has uncovered a goldmine of opportunity in community youth sports programs and continues to score profits in a down economy.
Clearly dominating the game in markets nationwide, i9 Sports and its growing network of franchisees are cashing in on the multi-billion dollar sports and recreation industry where more than 42 million kids participate in youth sports around the country. Focusing on equal play for every child, good sportsmanship and building self-esteem, i9 Sports boasts more than 180,000 members in 750 communities across 28 states, and projects to reach 1,000 in 2009.
Despite economic downturns, membership numbers have grown by 350 percent in the last two years. Company executives attribute the growth to parents who would rather cut back on spending for themselves, rather than sacrifice activities for their children. In addition, due to lack of staffing or trim budgets, there is a continuing upward trend of local parks and recreation departments, schools, and churches wanting to partner with private entrepreneurs, such as i9 Sports, to operate their sports programs.
“Our franchisees have chosen not to participate in the recession,” says Christy Atlas, Director of Marketing, referring to the i9 Sports’ sustainable business opportunity. “In looking at our revenues and enrollment figures, we’re not just surviving in this economy, we’re actually thriving,” said Atlas, noting that based on its phenomenal success in the United States, international expansion is in the i9 Sports game plan for 2010.
Founded in 2003 by Frank V. Fiume, i9 Sports has redefined youth sports by putting the focus on having fun, versus winning. “Instead of teaching the kids to win at all costs, i9 Sports teaches them that when everybody plays, everybody wins,” Atlas said. “While other leagues are riddled with cut-throat competition and inconvenient multi-day practice schedules, i9 Sports teaches kids how to be leaders, make friends and learn how to be both good winners and good losers.”
i9 Sports offers flag football, basketball, soccer, cheerleading and a host of other programs for kids ages 4 to 14. Unlike other leagues, i9 Sports has no tryouts or drafts, and provides an opportunity for all kids to play in each game, in all positions. Each week, the league gives out sportsmanship awards for the best listeners and the fairest players.
“No child is ever told they can’t play because they missed a practice or because they simply aren’t good enough,” Atlas said. “i9 Sports is all about building up a child’s self esteem and giving them the skills to be a better person as they move into adulthood.”
Parents are also major fans of i9 Sports philosophies. Because the league typically holds practices and games on weekends, allows friends and siblings to play on the same team, and features a web site boasting easy registration and weekly schedules, parents find i9 Sports policies a refreshing change of pace from traditional sports leagues.
Because i9 Sports is a home-based opportunity that requires no upfront inventory, and no real estate or long-term lease commitment, the initial investment for the franchise is significantly lower than food or retail franchise concepts, ranging between $50,000 and $80,000. New owners are set up to succeed in their markets with a customized 12 month strategic game plan that includes a demographic study for the territory, software that manages nearly every facet of the business and on-going technical and merchandise/marketing support.
About i9 Sports
Founded in 2003 by Frank V. Fiume, i9 Sports (i9sports.com) is the world’s first and fastest-growing youth sports franchise, offering flag football, basketball, soccer, cheerleading, and other sports for kids ages 4 to 14. i9 Sports leagues put an emphasis on having fun and not on winning. There are no tryouts, drafts, or fundraisers, and i9 Sports encourages equal playing time for all kids in an effort to boost self-esteem. The name i9 Sports is based on nine principles that best symbolize the company’s franchise and core ideology: imaginative, innovative, interactive, integrity-driven, impassioned, inspirational, instructional, insightful and inclusive. With more than 180,000 members in 750 communities, i9 Sports is planning an international expansion in 2010. The Franchise Business Review named i9 Sports the #1 mid-size franchise for 2008 and the #1 Sports, Recreation and Fitness franchise two years in a row. Entrepreneur Magazine recently ranked i9 Sports as the 15th Top New Franchise in America.