Hosting Successful Sport Events in Your Own Backyard

Is your organization looking to host a championship event? Whether your proposed event is international, national, provincial, or local the decision to host an event should be given serious consideration. Hosting a successful sporting event in your own backyard is not that simple and is often underestimated in terms of its scope and impact. It’s not just about some athletes showing up and playing games; there can be serious financial, legal and brand repercussions if you don’t do it right. The event is often viewed as a reflection of your organization and any perception, good or bad, can stay with you for a long time. If you’re going to do it, do it to the best of your abilities and in a way that maximizes the resources that you have available. Produce an event that your organization can be proud of for years to follow.

Here are a few tips when looking to host a championship event:

Select the right event: The most obvious beginning is to determine which event to host. In many cases you may have a choice of pursuing different types of events, each with their own scope (Regional, Provincial, National, International) and expectations from a governing body (PSO, NSO, IF). Deciding which event to bid on or host is a very important decision and should be aligned with the capabilities of your organization and the resources and facilities that are available to you. As an example, in my former organization I elected to bid to host a World Under-23 Championships versus a National Championship, because it involved fewer teams (40 vs. 60) and therefore a more manageable budget and resource level. Even more important, it was more aligned with our strategic priority of enhancing playing experiences for athletes under the age of 25. Which leads to my next tip…

Align with your organizational values: Your championship event should be synced with your organizational values and objectives. My colleague Dina Bell-Laroche has written a number of articles on value-based management and decision-making; here is one sample of the role that values play in sport organizations: https://sportlaw.ca/2011/05/values-lets-get-personal/

If you don’t have an organizational vision or set of values and goals, then create them! Take the time to ask the questions that will guide your decision-making and influence your bid. You can engage your Board of Directors, other event hosts, potential volunteers that you have identified for your Tournament Organizing Committee (TOC), etc. The Sport Law & Strategy Group can also help you develop these values, a vision and goals for a defined successful event.

Create a plan of attack: Once you’ve decided which event you’d like to host, you’ll need to put together a bid and/or plan of attack. This is essentially a business plan that outlines the steps that your TOC will take to achieve your defined success, the resources that you will utilize, stakeholder benefits, and a financial outline. The plan is a multi-layered approach that addresses both the formal and informal aspects of the event and highlights how your organization will establish and measure pillars of success.

The bid/plan also reflects who you are and how serious and professional you will be in executing the event. Take the time to prepare a professional and articulated bid. Not only does it look good, but it helps you to transition to the planning stage of the event’s life cycle. It establishes your infrastructure and asks the important questions right from the get-go.

Focus your resources on the critical elements that will make your event successful: All too often, I have witnessed event organizers try to add additional amenities at the expense of the core elements that participating athletes consider the most vital. For example, producing the perfect athlete village at the expense of allocating enough time to proper field/surface preparation, or investing more in technological gadgets and less on athlete transport. If one of your core elements fail then you’ve got serious problems! In the end the athlete is more likely to remember the 75 minute wait for their shuttle (which led to their poor performance in a high stakes game) than they are the cool promo toy they tried out between games. Bells and whistles are nice, but never at the expense of overextending your resources.

These are just a few tips to get you started and there are many elements to hosting a successful championship event. If you are considering hosting one in your backyard, why not contact us? The Sport Law & Strategy Group can help you build and deliver championships that will enhance your legacy. Or, if you are already hosting events and are looking to take them to the next level, we can support you as well. Feel free to contact me at jer@sportlaw.ca

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