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Weplay partners with Pop Warner, bringing more little jocks to the Web

July 16, 2008 |  3:08 pm
Pop Warner football

Finally, someone has come up with an easier way to figure out whose turn it is to bring the oranges to the youth soccer game. Weplay, a social networking site backed by Creative Artists Agency and Major League Baseball, aims to provide kids who play sports -- and their parents -- a safe place to chat online about games, logistics and dreams of becoming a Yankees third baseman who gets to dilly-dally with pop stars.

Today, Weplay announced that it was endorsed by Pop Warner, meaning one of Southern California's youngest tech companies will be working with the country's oldest youth tackle football and cheerleading association to make parents' lives easier (it also make it ever easier for football players and cheerleaders to flirt online). Pop Warner is the first youth sports network to officially recommend that players in its leagues and their parents use Weplay.

Steve Hansen, chief executive of the Long Beach and NYC-based company, said he knew Weplay would be a hit when he took his son to his first Pop Warner practice in Long Beach and saw the masses of people that were involved. "There was no sort of technology linking together everyone associated with my son's team," he said.

Hansen hopes that Weplay will help parents figure out carpools and game schedules as well as post pictures and scores. It will also be a safe place for 6- to 16-year-olds to chat online without worrying about any predators more dangerous than that hulking linebacker on the other team who hit puberty early.

Weplay has raised $4.375 million from Pequot Ventures (now know as FirstMark Capital) and athletes such as Derek Jeter, Peyton Manning and Lebron James. CAA and Major League Baseball are putting in "sweat equity," Hansen said.

Major athletes are involved to remind kids about the importance of practice, humility and sticking with their sport, Hansen said. Well, two out of three ain't bad: One member's profile brags, "I have played football since elementary school and haven't been benched since 4th grade."

-- Alana Semuels

Semuels, a Times staff writer, covers marketing and the L.A. tech scene.

Photo by Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times

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