In 2019, less than 40% of 6-to-12-year-old boys regularly played a sport; nearly 50% had regularly participated seven years earlier. Girls played even less, with 33% competing regularly, according to the Sports & Fitness Industry Association.
Then COVID-19 hit. Kids have spent nearly seven fewer hours each week playing sports, with children in lower income households participating even less frequently. The key to a bounceback, one startup believes, lies not with the children but with parents, who coach up to 90% of youth sports teams.
“The way to impact the most kids is to go through the teacher,” MOJO co-founder Reed Shaffner said. Launching this month, MOJO will offer parents and coaches customizable practice plans and instructional videos.
“Our feeling is that somewhere along the way, youth sports got broken,” MOJO co-founder, CEO and former Disney Media Networks co-chairman Ben Sherwood said. “From 4-to-13-year-olds, we feel like that segment … is ignored by the sports industrial complex.”
Offering a free version and a premium one at $19.99/year, MOJO aims to make coaching easier and more fun for parents, with season-long curricula based on variables like player age, practice length and experience level, plus tweaks made as the season progresses. The app is launching with soccer tutorials, though other sports are expected within a year.
MOJO has already built a talented roster of its own. Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson is an investor and board member, while former USWNT stars Julie Foudy and Brandi Chastain have also invested. Alpha Edison Ventures was a lead investor on a 2020 Series A round, joined by Jeffrey Katzenberg’s WndrCo, Fenway Sports Group chairman Tom Werner and UTA Ventures, among others.