Peer pressure is a dangerous thing. And it’s everywhere a kid turns — including, these days, the internet.
Andy Moss thinks that’s a good thing.
At least, it can be.
He envisions an online social networking site where student-athletes can help each other. Positive peer pressure, he says, can provide both mentors and mentees with role models, solutions to problems on and off the field — and prizes.
Now he’s put his pixels where his mouth is.
ESMZone.com went live last week. Although he spent 17 years with Microsoft — launching new businesses, tracking digital media and working with social media — the Westport resident was as excited as a kid on baseball’s Opening Day.
The ESMZone concept is this: Young athletes sign up, then fill out a profile indicating their athletic and academic interests. They can ask or answer questions — about sports, school or anything else. There is a “like” button for questions and answers. (No “dislike” — that’s too negative.)
Points are awarded for “likes.” At the end of each sports “season” (fall, winter, spring), the winners in 3 age groups (7th-8th grades, 9-10, 11-12) earn rewards. They could include a VIP pass to a pro football training camp, gift certificates to a sports store, even textbooks for college.
There are 2 ways to ask questions: public and private. Topics range from finding the best cleats and the difference between NCAA Divisions I, II and III, to help with algebra homework.
Of course, Moss admits, “You never know what will happen. We don’t encourage or discourage anything. We just create an environment where people feel comfortable — and have fun.”
Fun is nice. But how will someone show Moss the money?
The site will including advertising and sponsorships. Eventually, Moss says, there will be an annual user subscription fee. He’s talking with Westport groups like the WSA, PAL and Gridiron Club — offering a 10% donation for every registered athlete.
But for now, ESMZone.com is free. And “06880” readers are invited to click here, then register using a special code: woog2010-1.