Remember those recess and after-school hours during elementary school spent playing kickball, dodgeball or flag football?
Well, now you can recreate those times through 808 Sports Leagues – except it’s even better than when you were a kid because games are followed up with drinks. 808 Sports Leagues is a social sports league for adults that acts as a platform for players to get their exercise in a way that’s more interesting than a gym while providing a casual space for networking. To make it feel like more of a team effort, those involved can get custom fit shirts for the players so it makes it more fun for them to play.
“I love playing sports, and it is kind of a natural way to meet people versus going to a networking event or online,” says 808 Sports Leagues founder Yvonne Jones. “Basically, you’re set up with instant friends, in a way.
“You’re placed on a team, and you experience this fun, exciting thing together,” Jones adds. “Because you have that experience with (your team-mates), it breaks down some of those social barriers of meeting people.”
Jones founded the group in 2007, shortly after she had moved back to the Islands following a stint in New York City. It began with just eight kick-ball teams, and throughout the years has added dodgeball and flag football. In the fall, the league also will add volleyball.
The group now is comprised of about 2,000 players, most of whom are young professionals. Games are held once a week, usually on Monday or Wednesday evenings, and typically end with happy hours at various bars.
“It is a great way to meet people, even for myself,” explains Jones, who is a project manager at Hawaii Health Information Exchange. “When I moved back here, I didn’t really know anybody here. A lot of my friends had left to the Mainland, or it was hard to relate to people I had known in high school.”
Another main reason Jones wanted to start the league was to use it as a vehicle to raise money for local nonprofit organizations. Here’s how it works: Each team partners with a corporate sponsor, and the winning team from each division gets to donate the money to their charity of choice.
“That is huge for us,” Jones says. “It’s important to me to give back to the community, especially the Hawaii community. Not only do people get to have fun playing sports, but we get to donate a lot of money to charity.”
Teams can choose any nonprofit – as long it’s a Hawaii-based 501(c)(3) group. To date, the organization has donated $40,000 to Hawaii-based charities that include Alzheimer’s Association, Easter Seals, Meals on Wheels and Big Brothers Big Sisters.
Jones currently is in the process of growing the league – she hopes to add additional sports to its roster, as well as host more events including barbecues, pub crawls and tournaments. But more than anything, Jones wants the league to expand its reach in order to give more people the kind of social experience she’s seen it have.
“It sounds cheesy, but so many people have told me that they have met their best friend or significant other there,” Jones says. “I think that is the most rewarding piece.”
The league currently is registering players for its summer flag football season. Participants must be at least 21 and register by April 27 at 808sport-sleagues.com. Companies or groups of friends can register together.
For more information, find 808 Sports Leagues on Facebook.