Two years ago, the Lansing Sports and Social Club was looking to provide a fun reason for young professionals to stay in Lansing. When StartupLansing featured them as a Spotlight, (2 years ago almost to the day!) Josh Sherry had started the Lansing leg of the club in partnership with those in Grand Rapids and Ann Arbor. Today, Josh has branched off and started the stand alone, MI Life Sports. While their name may be different, their mission is the same. “We want to bring more economic value to Lansing by bringing new faces into the city through tournaments and partnerships.”
A sports league for those who want to play games, socialize and drink, MI Life Sports is a big city concept right in Lansing. More than a simple networking group, they offer the chance to socialize and meet new people in a laid back environment.
“Since it’s not a typical networking event, you’re not talking about your spot in life,” says Josh, “You can simply say, ‘I just kicked your butt, let me buy you a drink.” It’s easy conversation since everyone already has something in common and the environment offers a casual way to meet new people, make new friends and even possibly form relationships. And, even if you’ve lost the game you’ve just played, Josh says, “You just won in life because someone bought you a drink.”
But, MI Life Sports is looking do more than simply offer a place to launch a Kickball at your friend’s head then buy them a drink. As they grow, adding bocce ball, co-ed soccer, beach volleyball and more to their list of games, they’ve also stretched out into new post-game gathering places around the city such as MBC, Dublin Square, Harper’s, Renos and more. “The city is struggling with their identity between Lansing and East Lansing. We want to create a mentality that unifies the city as a whole and bring them together.” They also want to appeal to the MSU students that feel like they need to leave Lansing as soon as they graduate. “We want to offer reasons for them to stay,” says Josh. To do this they provide things other sports clubs may not such as groups rates, corporate rates and affordable prices. “I think we have an amazing ‘product’,” says Josh. “There’s nothing else like it in Lansing.”
Josh is hoping that, though they hit a lot of red tape here and there while planning their games and events, the city will eventually see the advantage of having a club like theirs. “We bring business into these places on weekdays where they wouldn’t normally have it,” he says. “We want to bring business downtown and wherever we play we want to partner with a bar within a mile.”
It’s also important to Josh to keep things light and easy-going. Even though they are playing a game, “We want to teach them how to play sports as adults.” To make sure the overly competitive attitudes don’t interfere with the socialization, the group has a standing rule that the winning team buys the losers a drink. If someone gets hit in the face or head with a ball, the hitter buys them a drink. “Buying a beer is a way to apologize and could open a new relationship.”
So, while the rules of the group are few, the ones that are in place are there to make sure MI Life Sports offers a fun and social environment where you can also play a little Kickball or Dodgeball. As they grow, they are continuing to branch out and hope to be able to bring even more business into Lansing by orchestrating tournaments with the groups in neighboring cities. But most of all, they want to keep providing a place where diverse groups of people can come together, kick each others butts and then drink together.