Testing out WePlay, a Youth Sports Social Network

Hat Tip to Mashable for posting about WePlay, a social network focused on youth sports for players, coaches, parents and fans. The site features profiles from big-name athletes such as Lebron James, Brandi Chastain, Derek Jeter, Shaun Alexander and Peyton Manning.  As Mashable pointed out, it doesn't look like these athletes are actually participating much with the site, other than having a basic profile--though they do have a few pictures and videos for people to see on their profiles. Still, this isn't really enough to keep people coming back for more--but hopefully this will change.

According to Mashable the site recently raised $1.87 million in their first round of financing. This sort of thing is big news for sports social networks so I decided to test out the site and see what it was like.

Upon arriving at the home page, I first thought that this was a general sports social network, and was unsure if I was supposed to sign up as a player or fan. Then I noticed that it was for youth sports, and signed up as a fan. According to WePlay, I can do the following things:

WePlay sign-up screen for youth sports fans

After I signed up they offered me an interesting option - I could get a family account and get the kids signed up (and be able to regulate what they do, I think). No little Jason's running around for me, so I declined the family account option. It's a good idea though.

When I arrived at the main dashboard (like your Facebook home page) I already had a friend request from the one and only Lebron James. I'm guessing everyone who selected basketball as their favorite sport received this, but the kids will probably still think it's cool. The design and layout of the dashboard looks pretty slick, as you can see below. I was glad to see there was only one ad, which wasn't obtrusive or obnoxious.

weplay main dashboard

From the dashboard there are links to see/join groups, view your friends' profiles, upload pictures (video coming soon) and write on your blog. Since I don't have any friends on the site, there really wasn't much for me to do.

Overall I really liked the design of the site but I'm not sure how it plans to attract users--beyond just the celebrity athlete profiles and ability to "connect" with my friends and family. There are already enough sites for people to connect, in my opinion. They're going to have to attract kids' away from Facebook, which is probably going to be tough. Maybe by going after the coaches and parents they have a shot. From the first screenshot above, it looks like they may offer some games, so that could be a way for the site to attract kids and make the site viral. I guess we'll just have to see what happens.