What Happens When I Ask Siri To Find A Basketball Gym Near Me?
What Happens When I Ask Siri To Find A Basketball Gym Near Me?
My friends and I want to play basketball. So, I do what anyone over the past decade would do. I say “Hey Siri” and after the respondent tone, I confidently ask her to find a basketball gym near me.
She thinks for a moment, and boom! Like magic, up pops a list of around twenty options. At this point, it’s time to lace up my Nike basketball shoes, select the perfect court-worn Spalding TF-1000 basketball, and start stretching the ole calf muscles out.
Not so fast. A closer inspection of the search results is now producing some red flags. Right away, I recognize about five of the search engine listings as CrossFit gyms. Unless we’re going to throw kettle bells over a pull up bar to score points, this won’t work. Looking deeper, I see another six to eight business listings for fitness centers. Again, great for basketball training but not what I need right now.
Alas, my goal of finding a basketball gym was a total bust. The only result even close to solving my problem was a local listing for the YMCA. Normally, this would be great news but they won’t allow anyone in to play except for paid members. Fail.
BASKETBALL GYM NEAR ME
Like the vast majority of Apple iPhone users, I appreciate Siri. She is great at finding restaurants, helping me with directions, and repeating silly (sometimes off-color) things that I say. But when it came to finding a gym where my buddies and I could play basketball, she bricked the shot as it were.
It’s not totally her fault. See, Google has done a remarkable job indexing businesses and landmarks on its almost universally used Google Maps platform. But Google learned something interesting over the past decade or so, and that is the importance and regularity of what’s known as local search.
I won’t spend too much time on the details here, but if you want to learn more about Search Engine Marketing for Local Business, I have written several articles on the topic over at The BridgeHouse Blog.
The bottom line is, Google and the other search engine companies realized that we all spend a lot of time searching online for local places nearby. In fact, a massive amount of our daily searches are devoted to finding something in close proximity.
The problem is categorizing every local landmark in a way that search engines can relate what we are searching for to the right place (if it exists). And what I learned about searching for a basketball gym near me clearly illustrated a problem with actually finding a local basketball court.
THE PRICELINE OF BASKETBALL COURTS
The problem started with finding a basketball gym near me. But the real problem is, I want to go play basketball right now and I can’t! Unfortunately, this problem is not new. It isn’t easy to get a group of people together in one place at one time. But when no one knows where to go, the whole plan goes down just like bouncing a flat basketball.
Introducing Let’s Go Ball. I thought it would be pretty cool to help as many people as possible play the game I love so dearly. So my two sons and I set out to locate every basketball court in Redding, CA where we have lived for many years. Our plan was to catalog these basketball courts in a way that shows you exactly what you will see when you get there, so that you can play the game when you want and how you want. Think of us as being the Priceline, Trivago, or Hotwire of basketball courts (that’s our goal).
Here’s the interesting process that started it all. I grew up in Cottonwood, CA which is about 20 miles south of Redding. I have lived in Northern California all my life. After decades of both playing and coaching the game of basketball, I said to myself, “I know where all the hoops are in Redding!”
Before the dawn of the Internet, I took pride in organizing basketball games all over Shasta and Tehama Counties in cities like Redding, Anderson, Cottonwood, and Red Bluff. Because I would play anywhere at any time against anyone, I catalogued every basketball court in my personal memory banks taking particular note of features like full courts and half courts, 3-point lines, rectangle backboards, breakaway rims, lighting, etc.
Most of all, I loved to play dunk hoops. You know, where the rims are lower than regulation height so most or all of the players can get up above the rim and dunk the basketball. Those were the games! I can remember having twenty or thirty players meet up at a basketball court we had scouted with the right equipment. We would play for hours and hours, sometimes all day.
WHERE ARE THE BASKETBALL COURTS IN MY CITY
So when my two sons, Danny and Tommy, and my wife Kelly all sat down to start making a list of the basketball courts in Redding, I was certain it would be easy and that we could accurately produce a complete list from memory. Ummm, not so much.
In fact, we were stunned to learn we only knew about half! After making our own list, I then started deep dive research online to find more. I started with easy targets, places like city parks, schools, and churches. But most of these local places, which by the way are easily found on the Internet, are not in any way classified as a basketball court!
That means a simple Internet search was nowhere near enough to get the job done. I had to use multiple variations of keyword searches, review social media posts from people in the area, sift through tons of incorrectly categorized listings in Google Maps and other mapping platforms, and rack my brain to think of everywhere I have been in the city that might have a basketball court. It wasn’t easy!
When I was done, believe it or not, I had uncovered over 50 basketball courts in Redding, California alone! Our first family brain trust meeting had only produced about 25 or so. What’s even cooler, we are still uncovering ‘new’ basketball courts in the area (new to us, anyway) which means our directory of local basketball courts and gymnasiums continues to grow.
GOOD FOR THE COMMUNITY
I admit, the idea of building out a directory of basketball courts is not new. Bits and pieces of our original concept for Let’s Go Ball are strewn about the Internet in the form of websites, mobile apps, and online directories.
But what I could not find, was a thoughtful and detailed list of basketball courts. I couldn’t find someone who matched my family’s passion for the game willing to spend hundreds of hours collecting data and digital assets, organizing a system, building the infrastructure, reaching out for constructive feedback, and launching a resource designed for the community. And not just the basketball community!
We live in a digital age where kids play video games and adults watch TV and both spend so much time scouring the Internet for useless information, that we forget to go outside and have fun. Many of the city parks we toured feature playgrounds, barbecue pits, beautiful lawn areas, and more than just basketball courts. These are landmarks our community should be taking advantage of.
Adults and children of all ages can benefit mentally and physically from basketball, no matter who plays competitively, or at all for that matter. Our job is to harness the modern technology to present these basketball courts in a meaningful way. And, we are just getting started.
LET’S GO BALL
As of this writing in October 2018, we are preparing for initial launch of the Let’s Go Ball website. The first city directory for basketball courts will be focused on Redding, CA. We know and understand that in order to create a solid resource for the community to use and find value in, we need feedback. So please, take some time to review the website and let us know what you think would improve it.
If you would like to help us build out basketball court directories in other cities, we would love to talk! Simply visit our contact page and drop us a line.