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Social Sports Becomes Growing Business


Scientists say nothing benefits human health and longevity as much as physical exercise and socializing. The benefits of fitness have been well known for quite some time. But new research shows that people who have a lot of friends are less likely to suffer from depression, colds, heart disease and cancer than those who are socially isolated. For many Americans, social sports clubs provide the opportunity to combine physical activity and social interaction.

Such clubs - for people of all ages and fitness levels - are popular throughout the United States. There are leagues for both fun and traditional sports. Physical prowess is seldom required, and the leagues provide the opportunity to engage with other people and make new friends. In fact, at the DC Social Sports Club people can play games such as darts, hoops, or skeeball with a beer bottle in hand.

Lisa Michelle, a day care teacher has enjoyed her first season of participating in social sports. “Social sports are awesome because you get to meet new people, have a few drinks, hang out, play cool games. It is a really fun experience,” she said.

It’s always possible to arrange something like a soccer game on your own. But a club structure frees the players from handling administrative tasks, such as ordering team T-shirts or renting locations. It can also help promote interaction.

For DC Social Sports Club director Jack Fan, the objective is to make organization easier so participates can focus on the entertainment. "We are out making sure that people are having a good time. If they are not you find out why. For instance, if they are lonely, ‘Hey let me introduce you to another team captain’ and they start talking,'” Fan said.

A lawyer by training, Fan stumbled into the social sports scene by chance. When he was studying for the bar exam, his friends invited him to play kickball.

“So, I ended up signing for kickball league," he recalled. "From there on I ended up becoming a volunteer board member, I became an organizer for the program and that what gave me an opportunity to branch off and form my own kickball organization.”

Two years ago Fan’s club had one full-time and four part-time employees. Today DC Social Sports Club is a 20-person operation, with more than 8,000 participants playing 20 different sports. After joining the social sports industry, Fan finds it hard to imagine he could have done anything else.

“One of the best things in my job is to see people happy and excited about what they do and come back and say ‘This is the best thing ever. We are so happy we found your organization,’” he noted.

Fan says social sports have even more appeal during the current economic downturn, because people have more free time and need to network to expand their opportunities. And social sports are cheap fun, compared to many other forms of entertainment. Participation in a league, a program which lasts up to two months, can cost between $25 and $65.
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