Sports start-up of Olympic scale

Source: Press Photo

Source: Press Photo

In anticipation of the Olympic Games 2014, they launched the Igcontest.com in Russia, a unique resource dedicated to the development of mass sports. Anyone can take part in the tournament by uploading a video of their performance to the site, and win a cash prize

The idea of this start-up was devised by Aleksandr Chernozubov, President of the National Endowment for Mass Sports and Russian national champion in gymnastics. There are no analogues to IGcontest.com in the world, so in 2010 the project was patented in the U.S. Library of Congress, and in 2012 it started permanent operations.

“The first thing kids do when they come to the gym is filming each other on their phones, and then they upload these videos onto social networks. There is a competitive process here – this is the main engine of development for our society. Perhaps, it would be wise to provide these videos with an official status, so that, for example, children and extreme sports lovers would have an understanding of how they can compete with each other,” Mr Chernozubov talks about his brainchild.

This is how IGcontest.com works: a person visits the website, signs in and selects his sport. There is a special tournament named after some of the great athletes for each sport. The description of the tournament specifies the conditions, age qualification, the prize and three professional judges. Then the person goes to the combinations collection page and forms his/her own, sending their requests and videos to the website – all for free. As a result, the performance is evaluated by the judges and the audience.

The jury consists of famous Russian athletes; however, often spectators and professional judges disagree in their assessment. “This periodically annoys sports federations, because we have developed it so that the opinion of the audience is more important than the opinion of the judges. The aim of our project is the development of mass sports, rather than high performance sports,” explains Chernozubov.

As a result, the jury determines the top three places on the podium for every tournament, and the users determine the Audience Award. All winners receive cash awards, and the largest award, $600, goes to the favorite of the public. As for the judges’ picks, the 1st place gets $500, the 2nd – $400 and the 3rd – $250. “This is small money by Moscow standards,” says Chernozubov. “However, if you consider Chelyabinsk, Ulan-Ude, or Balashov, this is fantastic money for them.”

To date, the creators of IGcontest.com have prescribed rules in a clear language for all individual sports where a numerical score can be applied, and there are over 30 of them. Another advantage of the project is that participants can try their hand at different sports. For example, if a person goes in for gymnastics and can do somersaults, they may take part in diving events, as they also do somersaults there. And if a person goes in for diving, they can try to jump on the trampoline – this greatly expands the sports horizons and earning opportunities for athletes. There is only one gradation for the participants – i.e., age categories: 12–16 years, 16–22, 22–27, 27+, and in the category 27+, people can upload their videos of past years.

Based on the analysis of the website, the creators concluded that the bulk of the participants would be formed by athletes who have made certain achievements in their field of sports. “I think extreme sports will be most popular: I am sure that snowboarding (half-pipe) will be the first, parkour the second, and workout the third. Parkour is not a recognized sport and probably it never will be, but we have transferred it to its own plane, that is, people will not break their necks jumping from five-story buildings. We have made it easier and transferred them to the 'Dynamo' gym. These elements have been assigned the top difficulty points,” says the president of the National Endowment for Mass Sports.

Another important part of the project is 3D methodological manuals. In these applications, users can specify combinations and watch animated performance of sports elements in slow motion, from different angles. This is especially relevant for the trauma-dangerous parkour. After a few weeks, the option of uploading real videos will be added to the application – that is, at first, you can see the quality animation and then the actual performance, and then one will have a chance to compare what it was six months ago and what it is now.

The development plans of the start-up include an increase in the number of users to up to 300 million people in two years. Representatives from 137 countries are already participating in the project. Thus, more than 150,000 people from China alone have visited the site in the past two weeks. If 50–100 persons participate in the competition, then no less than one thousand people vote for each athlete. In the near future, $500,000 will be invested into the advertising campaign of IGcontest.com.

“The only way we can collaborate with the state, and this is not necessarily Russia, or federations – we can offer them this platform for conducting competitions,” said the General Director of IGcontest.com. “The first thing they will save is money spent on travel, installation and dismantling of equipment, and time, of course. Reaching the audience is quite a different matter, that is, if 10–20 people come to a competition, in our case, this is the whole audience present on the website.”

So, IDcontest.com is a truly unique project that makes big-time sports accessible, greatly simplifies the organization of competitions, gives athletes an opportunity to earn extra income and, more importantly, attracts young people to sports – one can upload a video and win a prize, sometime in just one day. Who knows what the Olympic Games will look like in a few decades?..

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