Sunday 8 August 2021

RIP #FixturesLive

So it's only been a week since it's closure and I'm already missing the website for hockey fixture management :(

Like any good friend it wasn't perfect, at times far from it, but it was always there and supported us in some many ways, quietly getting on with the things that needed to be done - the unglamorous linchpin of club sport for so many, utterly indispensable for hockey competitions. 

I've just spent a few hours adding the families' junior & senior fixtures for the season into our family calendars, and boy this is painful, especially finding the venue location information (why do so many clubs manage to hide their pitch locations on their websites???)

Well just what am I missing right now?

  • Sync - The ability to simply synchronise a team's fixtures into my Google calendar seamlessly - the one click that instantly added (and kept updated with changes) dozens of fixtures into our schedules
  • Fixtures - The ability to easily synchronise a team to a league and have all the fixtures automatically added into the club's Pitchero membership system - and then later seamlessly have the results appear
  • Info - Easily and simple place to locate other club's venue locations and people contact information easily - yes I know the leagues have this but it's much easier for players / parents to get it without needing to engage with leagues
  • History - The history archives, whilst reviewing the coming season it's always important to look at the league's historic and fixture results over the years. Not just a historic archive of fixtures, players and events (including many current GB Elite squad player records from their early careers), but also a real treasure trove of information for current game prep.

Like all solutions, their demise reminds us of a couple of key topics:

  • Data - Who owns, curates and safeguards the data in the sport? Leagues & clubs were advised multiple times to download their historic fixture & player data (although looking at the extracts not all data was possible to be exported), It will be interesting to see what happens to these fragmented archive records. As times move forward it's going to be increasingly important for participants to take accountability for their own 'player passport of data', especially when the sport overall doesn't have a data strategy.
  • Resilience - Is the provision of any key solution/service within the sport secure, protected and resilient? The things we rely on to run and participate in the sport need to be there when we need & use them, don't just assume it's somebody else's responsibility to ensure they are!

With the upcoming new England Hockey centralised Game Management System (GMS), based on SportLomo I believe, I'm looking forward to seeing how it addresses the different user journeys of the sport's participants - hopefully it's going to focus on the needs of the many not those of the few.

The key to the benefits of such systems is not the app or the web user interface, it's not how many niche complex features it can address, BUT rather it's that many people use it, that it addresses the basics well for all and makes life simple for the various participants. An advantage that the new GMS should at least have is that it is required for use with all England Hockey affiliated competitions, so should have even more people using it, making it's information ever more usable & useful.

Equally with a revised, hopefully harmonised, set of competition rules from the AGM Governance works over the last few year (over)due for release from England Hockey for the new season in a few weeks, I'm going to be very intrigued as to how eligibility, data ownership & rights and image rights are addressed within these new rules.

So it's time to say a big thank you to those that originally conceived, developed, supported and maintained #FixturesLive - an essential tool/service that will be missed but not forgotten.

And of course time to look forwards, in hope, that the new system is at least as useful as FixturesLive was! (and yes I'm hoping that the history archive resurfaces somewhere soon)

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