Canadian amateur sports leagues are turning to software development tools to bring their online administration systems into the big leagues.
The Greater Toronto Hockey League, Mississauga Hockey League and the Minor Hockey Alliance of Ontario have all begun standardizing on an application
developed by Mississauga, Ont.-based BladeNet Communications Inc. The software allows the organizaitons to post real-time team scheduling changes, league standings and statistics on the Internet. BladeNet began marketing the application two years ago.
In the past, league administrators entered schedules, scores and statistics into spreadsheets, then turned them into HTML files to be on the Internet every two or three weeks. Now administrators can enter the scores directly into a content management system that allows daily, automatic updates.
“”We actually have a lady who does it from her home at one o’clock in the morning every night,”” says Scott Oakman, executive director of the Greater Toronto Hockey League. “”The game scores are phoned in to her every night after the games are completed, and she sits at home and enters them into the system and they are available to our members immediately.””
Jason Bonnyman, general manager of the Minor Hockey Alliance, says BladeNet has dramatically changed the way his organization operates.
“”Administration has become a lot more efficient and less time-consuming,”” he says. “”We have been able to streamline all of our processes, and cut costs.””
Oakman says parents and players have been pleased by the upgrades to the system. Previously, the only way to notify people of scheduling changes was by telephone.
“”In some families hockey dominates the family time table,”” he said, adding that the increased frequency of the online updates have helped them better plan their schedules.
The up-to-date online standings and statistics have also been useful research tools for hockey scouts, adds Bonnyman.
The entire application was written in Java using Borland’s JBuillder development tools. Kevin Dean, BladeNet’s chief technology officer, says Java had all the components necessary for this type of application.
“”You can deploy pretty hefty administration programming to the users across the Internet in Java,”” Dean says. “”There really is no comparable technology that would do all that in one environment.””
Online security is maintained by multiple firewalls, Dean says. Only league administrators have access to the system.
John Fisher, president of Borland Canada, says BladeNet is popular with leagues because administrators can easily enter information from anywhere. “”Without that type of ease of access that only Java currently provides, I think it would have been too difficult to get the information into the system.””
While early development of BladeNet has been limited to amateur hockey leagues in southern Ontario, Dean says the application can adapt to many different sports.
“”They are servicing a potential Canadian market of many, many hundreds of thousands,”” Fisher says.
In the future, Dean says the BladeNet application could be expanded to include an online registration system for leagues. Next fall he says they are hoping to include a feature that would automatically send e-mail notifications of schedule changes to members.
BladeNet offers the application free to leagues, clubs, associations and major sports organizations.