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Smalls is sitting on his front porch fiddling with his broken baseball glove. Benny “The Jet” Rodriguez walks up with a glove and bat in hand.
“Hey, I’m gonna play some ball. We need an extra guy. You wanna go?”
The days of going to your friend’s house — like in this scene from The Sandlot (1993) — and asking if he or she wants to have a catch, throw a football or go for a run are long gone. Today, a simple text can do the trick.
“Pickup. 3pm @ the park. Cya”
But even now that seems out of date. As Bob Dylan famously sang, The times they are a-changin.
Now playing pickup basketball, a round of golf or going for a jog with a partner can be arranged through an app. ATLETO helps users coordinate more than 40 different sports and workouts by interest, location and skill level.
“This product came about because of my passion for sports and passion for bringing people together to do sports,” CEO and co-founder Patrick Lundgren said. “I spent lots of time coordinating these activities with my friends. One day, I was sitting next to a friend of mine who was on Tinder, and I saw how easily he connected with women he wanted to go on a date with. Then it hit me — make a product as simple as a dating app but the end result is sports instead of a date.”
The app, which is available on iOS, Android and online, is used in a similar vein as dating apps. Users create a profile, select which sport(s) they are interested in playing and then browse nearby activities they can ask to join. If nothing piques their interest, users can host their own activity.
Activities and events can be public for anyone to join, or private to remain just among you and your friends.
“In today’s society, we want to connect with people, we want to share things and we want to live our lives through others or share our lives with others,” Lundgren said. “We want more people to find compatible matches to do their favorite sports because sports are much more fun together.”
ATLETO isn’t just for finding sports and activities in your own backyard, though. He said it comes in handy when traveling around the world as well to remain active and find like-minded individuals.
“Sports or activities you do every day won’t be put on pause when you travel,” he said.
Lundgren said he and the ATLETO team plan on taking the app to college campuses and businesses in the next 3-6 months, utilizing these markets as a way to connect students through pickup and intramural games, as well as getting co-workers out of the office to participate in activities together and exercise more.
“I think sports are more fun when you do it together, that’s why we say #SportTogether, and we want to encourage the social element of sports,” Lundgren said. “When I was growing up, I was so happy when I knocked on that door and my friend was home to play. But things are easier now with how we are able to connect with each other.”