Everybody loves kickball

Everyone loves the idea of kickball, especially kickball on the National Mall, but as today’s front page article in the Wall Street Journal shows, the actual application of it in this competitive town is a whole other story. This story has WAKA, the dominate kickball company, given a run for its money and players by DCKickball, an upstart group that says its taking adult kickball back to its nonprofit & social connections roots.

As a long-time WAKA player, I was happy with my $60 a year fee, for I got what I want for my money: the best excuse to drink on a Tuesday in DC. Now, I’m not so sure. To quote the article:

“The sport has also become a profitable business. WAKA… says it will gross nearly a million dollars this year from player fees.”

A million dollars a year and all I get is a lousy T-shirt, many times in some horrid hue that I wouldn’t dare wear otherwise? A T-shirt that a previous WashPost article said was paid for by the post-game host bar, not even my $60? That and division-wide parties in lackluster bars like Irish Times or Recessions? For a mill, I want all you can eat & drink Animal House-worthy parties at H20, Dream Nightclub, and Sequoia with free valet parking to boot.

You wanna stay a profitable business WAKA? Then show me the money!!

4 Comments so far

  1. Jamie (unregistered) on July 11th, 2005 @ 12:53 am

    Funny. Why are you surprised that 15,000 x $60 is about a million? Yeah, $1M sounds like a big number, but even if WAKA spent the entire $1M on your kick ass party for 15,000 people, that’s still only $60/player. That would be on par with one of those New Years hotel parties, and that’s not including any kickball costs. $1M is not going into someone’s pocket… that’s the *gross* amount. 20% already goes to divisions for parties. The article also said WAKA has 12-15 full time employees and a bunch of part timers. Field fees, insurance to protect volunteers (so you don’t get sued when reffing), bar negotiations, a custom website that makes it easy for captains and division officers to manage stuff, and I’m sure other costs. Stop whining. DCKickball is only $10 less.

  2. wayan (unregistered) on July 11th, 2005 @ 12:47 pm

    Then let’s do a breakdown:

    200K = 20% goes to divisions for parties, cool

    100K = 15% for insurance (got a better number and a source to go with it?)

    20k = 2% for field fees, because we’re not talking FedEx field here, but places like the Mall, which we’re not even registered for (or haven’t been in past years)

    $10k = 1% for website & negotiation costs, because I’ve seen the WAKA website & gone to the bars – neither costs more than that.

    $730k = what’s left for the 12-15 full time employees, which by the last job ad I saw them post, make 20-30k per year. With bennies, 15 staff at $25k average only come up to $450k, being generous. Not that I’ve ever seen or interacted with a WAKA employee. Have you?

    So that leaves $280k for….? Four buddies to split with smiles as they’re probably also paid staff too? Nice.

    Yet, don’t confuse. I love me some WAKA kickball, but like DCKickball, I think they can provide more bang for the buck or they should think about a few less bucks in their bank account or few more bennies for us.


  3. Jamie (unregistered) on July 12th, 2005 @ 3:28 am

    Yes, I’ve met several of the WAKA employees. Become a captain or join your division board and you’ll see how much they do for the division.

    How can you do a breakdown with partial info?! Who knows what insurance totals. Field fees are $3-5 per player (5-9%) in some divisions, and free in others.

    One thing I do know about is websites, since I run a web development firm. They probably pay about $10k just in hosting fees per year, not including development of the actual site. The registration, team management, and division management features would cost at least $50k. I agree the site doesn’t look great, but it appears they are rolling a new site design. I’m sure some of the features of DCKickball.org are causing them to add features to their own site.

    There are probably dozens of costs you and I would never come up with, not to mention equipment, travel costs (tourneys, new divisions, etc.), advertising.

    As for whatever is left, so what if it was $270k? Why shouldn’t each of four entrepreneurs get $70k or so (in fact, that’d be pretty low for something that successful in its 7th year)?

    But the truth is, you and I have no idea of what they make, or how many years of losses they incurred at the beginning. In fact, when WAKA was just one division, it was $35/player, non-profit, and run by volunteers (those volunteers are now the owners of WAKA).

  4. wayan (unregistered) on July 12th, 2005 @ 8:41 am

    You make several good points, ones that I hope WAKA hears:

    1) “I’m sure some of the features of DCKickball.org are causing them to add features to their own site.” – repond to the marketplace & continously improve all aspects of your product or we’ll go to the competition.

    2) “when WAKA was just one division, it was $35/player, non-profit, and run by volunteers (those volunteers are now the owners of WAKA).” – don’t forget your roots. Many of us remeber that division and its feeling & that’s what keeps us coming back. Go too corporate, and we’ll find a new game.

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