There’s nothing like a good sporting event to promote sportsmanship and friendly competition. When it comes to sports event management, you might have some questions about what’s required in terms of logistics and venue layout.
Whether you’re planning a charity run, a company outing, or a just-for-fun competition, we recommend starting with these tips.
Here are 7 tips to make sports event management fun for spectators and athletes alike:
1. Organize varying styles of competition for your sporting event.
Organize a few different variations of one main sport to spice it up. At a basketball tournament, how about organizing a three-point shooting contest between games? For a flag football game, how about a side activity seeing who can punt the ball the farthest?
This is just a nice way of mixing things up a bit, allowing competitors to test their skills in a different way, and getting spectators involved. You can also hold separate trophies or prizes for these side events.
2. Give out trophies or medals for your sporting event.
Speaking of prizes, be sure to award the winning team or athlete something more than bragging rights. This makes the winners feel like they really accomplished something. Meanwhile, friends and families can celebrate and take pictures.
Here are some ideas for your sporting event awards:
- Hand out trophies, medals, or ribbons, to the top three teams or competitors.
- Acknowledge the top competitors on a winner’s podium.
- Offer a trophy customization station: For a small fee, participants can add their name or the date to their award.
For youth sporting events, it’s recommended that you hand out participation trophies to everyone. If some kids get prizes and others don’t, it could discourage them from competing in the future. (Not great PR for your organization, and definitely not helpful for next year’s event!)
3. Don’t cut the game short during your sporting event.
Regardless of the type of sport, the gameplay should be long enough for participants to at least break a sweat. If it’s a golf tournament, make it a full 18 holes. If it’s a triathlon, make it a challenging course.
We get that you might want to squeeze in more matches or wrap up the event early. But participants shouldn’t feel like they’re getting the short end of the stick just so you can maximize profit.
When you’re juggling many athletes and games, it’s possible that a game or round will be delayed. And it’s very possible that the event as a whole may end later than expected. Even if this is the case, don’t compensate by shortening the game time. Instead, try to shorten the halftime break, or speed up the venue clean-up instead.
4. Offer dressing rooms or lockers for your sports event.
When searching for a venue, look for a location that has a locker room or another “getting ready” space where athletes can change and store their belongings. The rooms should be comfortable and have a gender-neutral option available.
If the venue doesn’t already have locker rooms, that’s not a deal breaker. Are there extra rooms — like as a large storage closet or empty conference room — that can be turned into as a dressing area? Ask the venue administrator during your site visit.
It’s also important to make sure these rooms are actually open on the event day. The facility’s custodian should have the keys to all the rooms. It will not reflect well on your organization if participants have to change clothes out in the open — all because you didn’t bother checking to see if dressing rooms were open.
On a final note: If lockers are available, encourage guests to use them and bring their own lock. Emphasize that you’re not responsible for lost or stolen equipment/gear.
5. Require a waiver of liability for your sports events.
There’s the real possibility of someone getting hurt at your sporting event. Injuries can cause serious liability issues — and as the point of contact for all the contracts, vendors, and attendee communications, this responsibility is yours!
This is why event organizers should require all participants (or parents of participants) to sign a waiver of liability as part of the registration process.
On the subject of injuries, you should also have medical personnel on standby. Have a first aid kit available for minor injuries like a cut or scrape.
Ideally, you should also have someone on your staff that has some medical training or is at least able to identify common illnesses like dehydration or heat stroke.
6. Stay calm when handling sporting event complaints and grievances.
Sporting events should be about fun and not just about winning. However, it’s inevitable that you’ll have a few participants complain or dispute the results. This is especially common in youth sports, where parents will argue a judge’s or referee’s call on their child’s behalf.
There’s a simple solution: Bring in someone who’s knowledgeable in the sport and can calmly address these grievances. In most cases, they should back up the official’s decisions.
This keeps the focus on the fun and your organization’s mission — not the fine details of a single call.
7. Market the sporting event.
Your event won’t be a success if no athletes are there to compete! Here are some marketing ideas for sporting events:
- Reach out to coaches and instructors of the sport in your area. You can find them through schools, park district leagues, and private leagues.
- Market your event at a gym or fitness studio to find the right audience, gather interest, and get word-of-mouth marketing going.
- On social media, you can look for tagged, sports-related clubs within your area to directly target your demographic.
The marketing material is also a great place to find volunteers (if you need them). For youth sporting events, ask the parents to help, perhaps in return for a waived entrance fee for their kids.
Now You’re Ready to Create a Sports Event That’s a Home Run!
A “big game” is a terrific way to bring everyone together in the spirit of competition. However, like any event, the sports event planning process can be taxing. You want participants and spectators to leave with a positive experience. An event that is carefully coordinated ensures safety, a good time, and a good workout.