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Story #65Philadelphia Sports NetworkPhiladelphia, PA

If somebody wants to play sports, wants to do something fun after work, wants to meet people, we want them to think of Philadelphia Sports Network.

Former architects Jason Cooper and Ryan Ward bonded over a common interest in basketball, and started a pickup group with some of their friends to play after work. Neither one foresaw that a few years later they’d be running their own adult recreational sports league full time. Philadelphia Sports Network (PSN) now manages over 200 sports leagues each year and over 20,000 participants across the city of Philadelphia.

Philadelphia is a city that takes its sports very seriously – professional or not. Without realizing it, Cooper and Ward were fulfilling a need among professionals like themselves who wanted an after-work activity, a way to meet new people, or just to play a sport that they love. As word of mouth spread about their pickup basketball league, people began requesting other sports, and “it just went crazy,” says Cooper.

Cooper and Ward made the decision to transition the sports network into a full-time business “to make it the absolute best it can be.” It allows them to perfect all of the pieces it takes to provide high-quality games to their vast and growing number of players – from insurance, legal advice, weather coordination, and the management of all the locations, sponsors and people. Players took notice and membership skyrocketed. Walking down the streets of Philadelphia, you can usually spot someone sporting their league t-shirts on and off game days. It’s not just about sports. Players take pride in being a part of this community.

Though Cooper admits to missing being an architect at times, he’s happy when he looks at what he and Ward have accomplished. The pair recently expanded PSN to Pittsburgh and plans to expand to other cities, and perhaps start a league for kids.

“It’s awesome to see the impact you can have on people,” says Cooper. “When I think about all of the people having a good time throughout the city, when I hear a team cheering over a game-winning goal, when I see someone new to the city making friends at the games, or when I watch teams returning season after season, it’s the most rewarding feeling.”

 

Photos by Shaul Schwarz

  • PHILADELPHIA, PA: Participants of the Philadelphia Sports Network play basketball at an indoor court. Owners Jason Cooper and Ryan Ward coordinate 15 different sport leagues in the city for a variety of teams. (photo by: Shaul Schwarz)

  • Philadelphia Sports Network participants celebrate after a game at a local bar. For each location where they hold games, they have an associate sponsor bar where everyone can hang out after the game.

  • Participants in the Philadelphia Sports Network play a game of ultimate frisbee on an outdoor field in center city Philadelphia.

  • The owners of Philadelphia Sports Network recently expanded their business to Pittsburgh, Ward's hometown. They plan to expand to more cities in the future. They also hope to start leagues for kids in the future.

  • As owners of Philadelphia Sports Network, Cooper and Ward handle a wide variety of responsibilities, including coordinating game locations and equipment, assigning referees, monitoring the weather, wrangling sponsors and marketing the leagues themselves.

  • Participants of the Philadelphia Sports Network play soccer on an outdoor field in center city Philadelphia. Cooper and Ward are among three full-time employees of Philadelphia Sports Network, but they also manage part-time photographers, 100+ referees, grounds crew and commissioners for each sport who help oversee the leagues.

  • Jason Cooper and Ryan Ward, owners of the Philadelphia Sports Network, stretch on the rooftop of their office in center city Philadelphia before their weekly game of one on one. Though Cooper admits to missing architecture, he says, “I love doing this. I have never worked harder, but I never feel like I am working, ever.”

  • Jason Cooper and Ryan Ward, co-owners of the Philadelphia Sports Network, work in the office coordinating league games. The two met when they were both working as architects, and bonded over their common interest in basketball.

  • Participants of the Philadelphia Sports Network shake hands following a basketball game. Basketball is one of 15 sports PSN manages leagues for, and they have over 20,000 participants.

  • Participants of the Philadelphia Sports Network have a team huddle before a basketball game. For many working adults, the league is a great way to meet people and be active at the end of the workday.

  • Participants in the Philadelphia Sports Network play basketball at an indoor court. The city of Philadelphia takes sports very seriously, professional or not. What started as a casual pickup league grew exponentially as word of mouth spread among adults looking for an after-work activity.

Business Details

Proprietor: Jason Cooper, Ryan Ward
PO Box 22458 Philadelphia, PA 19110
PH: 267-291-4PSN / Website
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