Using WordPress for Sports Websites: Free Plugins & Advice
At WPlift, we like to explore plugins that allow users to extend WordPress and add uncommon but very useful functionalities into it. An average user with little or no knowledge of PHP, HTML, and CSS, can create a complex but efficient and purpose-built CMS for their web publishing needs. In the past, we have covered events and calendar plugins, collaboration tools, and user access control plugins. With a combination of plugins and highly customizable themes, WordPress users are creating their own CMS platforms that specifically serve their purposes.
During the London 2012 Olympics, I thought about writing something related to sports and WordPress. But other things came up and this idea slipped through my mind. I wanted to explore how WordPress is used by people to organize sporting events, create sports related websites, online communities and portals. This is done mostly with the help of different plugins, and when I tried to look around I was surprised to see how many sports related plugins are out there in the repository.
In this post we will look at some plugins that allow you to extend WordPress and create Sports related websites.
League Manager is a sports league management plugin. This plugin allows you to manage league, add teams, add matches and manage statistics. It currently supports hockey, football, rugby, tennis, etc. Other sport leagues can be managed with the plugin manually. League Manage currently does not allow you to add players to the teams, however this can be achieved by using ProjectManager, which is another plugin by the same author and works really well with League Manager.
All the plugin data can be exported and imported. The plugin also comes with unlimited widgets, shortcodes and template tags to easily integrate it into any WordPress theme. There is also extensive documentation that comes with the plugin, which makes it easier to use.
PHP League for WP
PHP league is another plugin that allows you to manage sports leagues, teams, players, results and fixtures. The plugin creates its own table in your database so it is easy to import and export data. You can manually enter logos and flags for the teams. Enter player details, team descriptions, display results in widgets, and do lots of fun things with the statistics. The plugin is currently available in English, German, French and Polish languages, it is also translation ready and anyone can contribute translation of the plugin into any other language.
Game Schedules is a plugin for a sports team website to display their game schedule. It is a very simple to use plugin. It creates a custom post type with a post editor of its own, there you can create and manage Game schedules. These posts are then fetched in an HTML table and can be displayed inside posts and pages with shortcode or with widgets. The plugin comes with two widgets, the Games Schedule plugin displays a table of games with time, opponent, location, etc. The other widget is a countdown timer that displays time till the next match.
The post editor for creating schedules has media fields where you can give URL to a place where people can go and see details. Like for example, these fields can be used to display photos from the game, or to a post with commentary about the game, etc. The plugin author has contributed another plugin called Game Locations, which creates a table of addresses with links to Google map or any other mapping service. The author has plans to extend this as a set of plugins for the development of a sports team website, so if you are a developer and want to contribute please reach out.
Game Schedules »
Fixtures and Results Plugin
Butterfly Media’s Fixtures and Results is a premium plugin to add sports fixtures and results into your website. The plugin provides an extensive set of features to record scores, display them, collect and maintain data, manage and organize competitions, teams, venue, etc. It also allows you to add formations for teams and clubs. The plugin uses shortcodes and widgets to display data on the front end. The latest result widget and next fixture widget can easily be placed in the sidebar. While you can also display results inside posts and pages.
Fixtures and Results Plugin »
Developed by the folks at Bikes.org.uk this plugin is powered by GPSies which is an online GPS track sharing service that works with GPS devices. This plugin allows you to share tracks, trails and routes on your website. GPSies also comes with apps for most smart phones so you can create a route on the go, map it, and then share it on your activity blog, sports website, or anywhere you want. There is one problem though; the plugin adds a link back to plugin developer site with a powered by Gpsies. But the information you can add with this plugin and the usefulness of it for many sports would probably be incentive enough for most people to tolerate the link.
To use the plugin you need to create the route on GPSies or get the ID of an already shared route and use it in a shortcode inside your posts or widgets. The plugin adds information such as distance in miles and kilometers, altitudes, climb and descents, track types, coordinates, etc. Maps are printable, can be exported into a Google Earth file, GPS routes in GPX format, and can be used on many other devices and online services.
Google Maps GPX Viewer
Google Maps GPX viewer can be labeled as an easy way to insert Google Maps into your posts. However, this plugin does a lot more than that. It allows you to create routes, use KML or GPX files to upload tracks and routes, show topographical information, display terrain, choose between many different map views. It comes with lots of icons and symbols and a full-fledged map editor so that you can create your maps, put signs and labels on the map and share the map in your posts. For people who didn’t like the WP Routes plugin, they can use this plugin by visiting GPSies, exporting their routes in GPX and uploading them to their website with this plugin.
The plugin adds a button in tinyMCE so if you are not using visual post editor you will not be able to see it. The plugin comes with configurable shortcodes so you can add maps into your Widgets as well. However, if some users find shortcodes difficult to understand they can insert the map in visual post editor and then copy paste shortcode from post editor to a simple text widget.
Whether you are training for marathon, cardio, or just for fun, Runners Log allows you to publish your running activity on your blog with lots of details, statistics, calculators, graphs and charts. You can track your performance, use calculators to adjust your acivities, track activities over the time, and do lots of other things. The plugin uses pChart and Google Charts to create graphs and charts. It has weather calculator, so if you can record and track the weather during your running activities.
After installation the plugin adds meta fields for activity under your posts. So if you are writing an entry for your running activity you would need to add this shortcode into your post
[runners_log_basic]. You can see a full list of shortcodes here.
Easy Chart Builder
While reviewing sports related plugins in the repository, I noticed that the visual display of scores is a big feature. People maintaining sports related websites use charts, graphs to show scores, compare players, and display other data. Easy Chart Builder helps you manually add charts into your blog posts. This plugin is particularly useful for people who are not maintaining some tool to collect data and automatically generate their charts. If you have the data, you can manually create chart and embed it into your posts.
The plugin uses shortcodes to generate charts. The plugin author has provided extensive documentation on how to generate different types of charts with this plugin using shortcodes.
Easy Chart Builder »
WordPress is used by so many people around the world, so whatever you are going to create with WordPress there is a good chance that someone has already created a similar website and there might be already some tools available for you to use. There are many other awesome sports related plugins available for WordPress. If you have used some other plugins, not mentioned here, please add them in the comments below.