What I Wish I Knew Before Hosting a Sporting Event

Sporting events are incredibly popular and usually draw large crowds, which is why they are a worthwhile project, but require careful attention. If you’ve never planned one before, there are a few things you should know before starting.

Every planner makes mistakes, no matter their experience level, but hopefully we can catch a few and save you the time and money in advance. 


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Pay special attention to the award ceremony

In most cases, award ceremonies are performed near the end of the event, just when you thought you could relax and all your planning is almost over.


This is a big mistake event planners for sporting events usually make; they forget to plan the ending ceremony or do so with a casual mindset.

This part of your event actually requires the most detailed planning and consideration over the sporting event. 

four women showing off their medals

Where are your participants?

Where is the ceremony being held?

Does it require extensive set-up?

Technical equipment required? etc. 

This requires a lot of communication between you and your staff, winners, participants, and the audience/attendees.

Make sure everyone involved knows when and where the ceremony is taking place, the audience is directed to their seats, participants and winners know where and when to arrive and what is expected from the event.

I would highly recommend running a rehearsal prior to the event to make sure all technical equipment is working, crew and staff know what is expected of them as well as the athletes.

You have to plan your media coverage

You can’t just expect the media to show up to your event (it’s okay,I thought you could too). If this is a relaxed event and you don’t care about coverage, well frankly you shouldn’t be hosting a sporting event. Get media not only for your benefit, but for your athletes.

Media can make or break your event, so instead of relying on just one source, reach out to a variety of reporters and resources.

media covering an sporting event

Reach out to your local newspaper or magazine, promote your event through local listings or event discovery sites, put out a press release, reach out to local bloggers/influencers, etc.

There is so much you can do to get the coverage you deserve, just don’t expect it to show up at your door unless your athletes already have a big following they are bringing with them. 

Creating a powerful marketing campaign also helps with your reach and how visible your event is to the world. If you have athletes or your participants are well known in the industry, highlight them in your campaigns, and use their influence to your event’s advantage. 


Establish clear communication and expectations from the start

If you are enlisting the help of volunteers, it’s important to be clear with your expectations and use efficient forms communication. Start by putting together an agreement document that helps outline the various expectations that workers are to abide by, leaving nothing up to speculation.

It needs to incorporate common issues like attendance, a code of conduct, required dress code etc.


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In addition, the contract needs to specify the amount of time for which it will be in effect and if there are conditions under which it can be broken prematurely. This will create a more professional atmosphere that your volunteers take seriously to encourage a more efficient work environment.

It will also clarify what is expected of them and what they can commit to. Nobody likes to be left guessing what their responsibilities are, therefore supervisors needs to explicitly lay out who is suppose to be doing what. Each task should have a set of action steps needed for its completion, and the lines of communication should be open to address any areas of confusion.

By defining the rules up front, you are eliminating any “empty time” for your volunteers and making sure no task is left unassigned. By doing this step, your event not only became more organized and controlled, but you can have a clear head to focus on the bigger-picture of the event.


Collect important contact Information (staff, volunteers, athletes, etc.)

 As you are making plans, be sure to collect all points of contact and add it to a master spreadsheet or list as you go along. This might be a given, but there are people we forget about getting in contact with before the event such as: 

  • Facility maintenance (they have the keys) 
  • Facility staff and clean-up crew 
  • Parking maintenance 
  • Equipment rentals if applicable


Triple check equipment and ensure proper storage methods

Certain electronic equipment is required and relied on for hosting sporting events, so make sure everything works properly before the event. You don’t want to make technicians scramble last-minute looking for the missing cord or source of battery failure.

Check all of this equipment once it is set up, consecutive days before the event, and hours before in the event day. 

Technology to check:

  • Scoreboards
  • Walkie-talkies/headphones/ radio
  • Microphones
  • Power Cords
  • Buzzers/Timers

Pay special attention to the way that the equipment is stored before the event.

Ensure everything is covered and protected, clean, stored properly and undamaged in advance to prevent any problems the day of. 


Do multiple sound checks

Check one, two, three. Sound checks people, why do we forget this?

Sound checks are important because they are a way to determine if the equipment is projecting the sound at the correct levels and that everyone can hear everything addressed over the sound system or PA.

Doing multiple sound checks in the days before the event and the day of the event will ensure that everything is ready to go without having to change settings. This is also a big time saver and helps prevent delays and poor audio quality when announcing or during the award ceremony; also saves you from embarrassment. 


Have established crowd control procedures

A sensible crowd control plan is essential for any event. Once you have determined the site of the event and the approximate attendance, you can put a crowd control procedures in place.

sports fans covered in body paints cheering 

For example, most events start registration lines using retractable belts at a variety of institutions and businesses such as the bank, public transportation systems, airports,etc. The idea is to help direct the flow of traffic in an area or prevent people from wandering into spaces that are restricted or where they could be injured. The belts are very cost-effective and a highly visible safety tool that can be reused at any event. 

The belts create an event structure and a sense of order, eliminating large crowds and confusion. Most retractable belt models are easy to use, set-up and change depending on the venue or personal preferences.

You should also plan for overflow parking and any emergency evacuation procedures. Make sure everyone handles crowd control has the same information and knows what to do in all situations. You also need to establish a communication protocol between crowd control officials before the event. 


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Take the time to select reputable game officials and referees 

Selecting a reputable, experienced game official is imperative when hosting a sporting event. Always research your possibilities and ask for professional recommendations from other event planners, team owners, or sport related organizations. Here are some tips when choosing your referee: 

1. Only accept someone with glowing references and ask their reference if they would employ them again. 

2. Double check that their information is all correct such as contact details, job titles and their availability. 

3. Match their skills with the skills and position you are looking to fill.

4. Choose someone familiar with your industry or with a background in working similar events.

Consider this valuable information next time you plan a sporting event to make sure you are fully prepared for game day! Play Ball!!

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