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Keys to Success in Sports Event Management

April 29

Sports event planning is a huge job. Events play a major role in generating income for sports organizations and, often, nearby restaurants, hotels, and airports. Sports event managers are responsible for planning and delivering on every detail. From community fundraisers and school sports to the major leagues and international competitions, they work at every level to ensure that each event goes off without a hitch and that spectators stay engaged.

It can be thrilling work. It’s also tremendously challenging and made more so in the last year by health concerns related to the coronavirus. As in-person events gradually come back, use these guidelines to create a successful track record in your sports event management career.

Build Your Master Plan

As you start to plan for an event, map out everything you want to include in it. Your plan might involve some or all of these:

  • Venue and logistics
  • Catering
  • Speakers
  • Entertainment and activities
  • Advertising
  • Registration
  • Sponsors
  • Paid and/or volunteer staff

Establish Your Budget

Include estimates for every important element of your event, including travel and accommodation costs for speakers, presenters and other special guests.

Set the Date

Once the date is confirmed, you’ll be able to book the venue, schedule staff, and start promoting the event.

Line Up Sponsors

Sponsorships help you cover costs. Seek out corporate sponsors and establish partnerships with community organizations. Many will gladly contribute in return for promotion of their brands and services.

Select the Venue

Choose a venue that meets your event’s needs and fits your budget.


Hire professionals to create a logo and branding for the event, build a website, establish your presence on social media, and buy ads in print, broadcast and online platforms.

Event Planning in a COVID-19 World

How will you meet your participants’ most basic needs—physical safety, access to medical care, and the ability to communicate? These were important considerations before the pandemic, but they have tremendous impact on event planning now. You’re responsible not only for protecting every person involved in your event, but for ensuring these critical elements, as well:

The Quality of the Experience

In addition to considering the experience you want to deliver, think of the one your attendees expect. Choose a destination and venues that offer them peace of mind, meet their standards, and engage them in the event. Be prepared to provide access to top-quality medical care for any need.

Conduct destination risk assessments at contracting and again prior to operation, and monitor any areas of concern throughout the event. Consider these factors at and near your venue:

  • Economic and political stability
  • Crime trends
  • Medical infrastructure
  • Transportation

Stay informed about national, regional, state, and municipal government regulation as it changes. At every point before and throughout your event, you need to know:

  • Whether attendees from certain states are able to fly to and from the event location
  • Whether attendees may return from your state without quarantining
  • The local occupancy and social distancing regulations at your location’s current stage of reopening
  • Whether your logistics and venue include any deterrents to such safety protocols as social distancing and access to healthcare services

Safety—and the Perception of Safety

Meeting recommended protection protocols is absolutely crucial, but it’s only part of the challenge. In order to attend events, guests have to feel that they’ll be safe in doing so. In addition to their safety, it’s their perception of and confidence in their safety that will restore the demand for in-person events.

Assess and respond to the confidence of all event stakeholders—sponsors, paying and non-paying attendees, speakers/presenters, onsite staff, and so on—while considering their varying degrees of motivation to attend.

The Bottom Line

Your event is a business venture, so a positive return on investment is key. Make sure that you have a clear picture of all event expenses, deposit schedules, and cancellation and attrition terms. How much is at risk if the event is cancelled, under-attended, or cut short? Put effective risk-mitigation plans in place, and make sure that they’ll help attendees and sponsors feel confident in attending.

There are three steps to health-risk mitigation:1

  1. Prevention. The most effective way to prevent the spread of illness at an event is to manage who can attend it. Establish a strong sick-attendee policy, communicate your strategies in clear, comprehensive ways, and schedule visible, effective cleaning and disinfection of all your function spaces.
  2. Detection. Determine your mask-wearing policy and methods for conducting no-contact temperature checks throughout the event. Strategically plan where and when to post staff so attendees always feel safe and secure. Consider having dedicated on-site health professionals test for flu, coronavirus, and other contagions. Establish procedures to use in case an attendee needs testing or treatment, and know where the nearest available clinics and care centers are.
  3. Response. This is another area with a sizable and vitally important checklist. In case of emergency, you need to know:
    • How staff should contact emergency services for help
    • Which of your on-site team members should be notified immediately
    • Whether someone who tests positive and is advised to quarantine will be directed to stay in their room and wait for a doctor or visit the nearest medical facility
    • Your privacy policy as it relates to on-site emergencies involving guests
    • Your processes for communicating directly with guests and with their emergency contacts
    • Your communication plan if someone tests positive for COVID-19

Technology can help you conduct contact tracing. Consider creating an on-site contact list and chain of command for distribution that adheres to all Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) regulations. By securing emergency contact information and permissions during registration, you’ll be able to compile and access the data from one central location.

This is your moment to take charge.

You’re ready to embrace important challenges, the need for your skill is growing, and the KU online master’s degree in sport management* can help ensure your success. Develop the expertise and the network you need to accelerate your career in sport management industries. Explore the curriculum and schedule a call with an admissions advisor today.

*This program is a Master of Science in Education (M.S.E.) degree in health, sport management, and exercise science with an emphasis in sport management.


1. Retrieved on February 16, 2021 from ita-group-white-paper-health-risk-mitigation-for-in-person-events.pdf