Organizing Successful Sports Events

Organizing Successful Sports Events

If you practice in sports. Whether you’re a coach, a physical education teacher or manager of a youth sports organization. You’re very likely, at one point or another, to be tasked with the responsibility of organizing a Sports event. It is not a matter of will it happens or not, it’s a matter of when will it happen.

You can, and probably should hire a professional to facilitate this process for you. Someone with background knowledge in Sports administration or Sports management is more than qualified to do the job for you. Conversely, if you can’t afford to hire a professional. This article outlines the 4 important phases of organizing Sports events.

  1. Bidding
  2. Planning
  3. Operations
  4. Closing

To host successful sports events, these four phases are of utmost importance.

A great deal of planning and attention to details is necessary. All the minor and major details should be considered. These may include transportation, the estimated number of people, consideration for partakers with disabilities and etc.

If this is all starting to sound overwhelming to you don’t worry. By the end of the article all will be simplified. Starting with the first step.


There are a number of questions you need to consider before wasting time and resources on an event that might be unsuccessful. The bidding phase can help you evaluate whether your organization wants or even has the capacity to organize the sports event. 

Before taking up an event. Consider these determining factors:
  • Is there an interest in the community for the sports event?
  • Do we have the necessary expertise?
  • Can the facilities be made available?
  • Do we have the necessary manpower and leadership?
  • Can we accumulate the finance to carry the project through?
  • What do we hope to achieve from hosting the event?
  • Do we have the necessary willpower?
  • Do we have the necessary time?
Consideration for the location of the event
  • Are the local people interested in this sport?
  • Are they likely to be supportive of the event?
  • Will the local media be interested?
Consideration of the history of similar past events
  • What other events like this have been hosted?
  • How successful were they?
  • What factors contributed to their success?
  • Can those factors be repeated or improved if you take up the event?
Think about acceptability
  • Is your organization in favor of organizing the event?
  • Are there any personalities or other problems within my organization that would inhibit the success of the event?
  • Is the government’s sports department aware that you have applied to bid for the event and will they support it if we are successful?

These questions and others should help you decide whether or not you want to take the next step or stop there. By the end of step one, you should also have a clearer picture of the reality that comes with organizing sports events.

If you still comfortable you may proceed to planning the event.

Planning phase

The next step is to appoint the team you need to work with to make sure the event happens. Then assign roles and responsibilities to them. This team is your organization committee and they will oversee the major operation areas and steer the planning process.

These areas to give your attention to could be:
  • Facilities and equipment;
  • Technical aspects – referees, umpires, training, schedules of events;
  • Liaison with sports bodies and participants – entry forms, information sheets,
  • Registration forms, eligibility;
  • Transportation;
  • Accommodation;
  • Medi and publicity;
  • Protocol – ceremonies, VIPs;
  • Hospitality;
  • Finance and financial control;
  • Social program;
  • Post-event clean up, evaluation and report;
  • Medical matters.

You do not necessarily have to tick all these boxes and you probably will not have to. Given the nature and size of your sports event, you might less or more boxes to tick than the ones we provide above.

The size of your team will also depend on the size of the event. For minor events, it is possible for one person to have more than one function. It is possible, for example, for the accommodation and transportation functions to be combined [1]. You can determine the combination of areas by thinking about the size of the event and the amount of time your team has at their disposal [1].

For the purpose of broadening the scope of the article. We will use a six months window for organizing sports events and count down to the actual event.

Six months prior to the sports event:
  • Meet with the convener and as many committee team members as possible.
  • Chairpersons need to create and present a list of tasks in their areas of responsibility.
  • Each chairperson sets a preliminary budget by the following meeting.
  • Establish methods of communication and regular reporting times.
Five months prior to the sports event:
  • Review all committee budgets and consolidate them into one.
  • Each committee chairperson presents a flow chart outlining tasks to be carried out, who will do so, and by when.
  • Book facilities and equipment as necessary.
  • Begin promotional plans.
  • Set up registration procedures.
  • Set up bi-weekly meetings with each chairperson to check the progress of their planning.
  • Complete all tasks that require lead time, e.g. promotion, printing, financing, attracting volunteers
Two months prior to an event:
  • Continue to meet with all committee chairpersons to share progress.
  • Review flow charts to make sure they are on track.
  • Send out entry and/or registration forms and other paperwork.
  • Begin weekly meetings/contact with chairpersons.
One week prior to an event:
  • Review all flow charts to ensure they are on track.
  • Discuss emerging problems and how to deal with them.
  • Coordinate final interactions between chairpersons.
Other activities

Special events by themselves are often only interesting to those who are directly involved in or have a special commitment to the event itself. However, if you add some “extras”, you can broaden your appeal and, therefore, people’s participation in the event.

Each country has its own unique cultural advantages that can make sport events special for large groups of people [1].

How to adapt the sports event to the context of the community or region.

Whether through photography, music, dance, the visual arts, food or clothing, your country or community can contribute a great detail towards adding something “extra” to a sports event [1].

To help plan these activities, consider the following:
  • Think about your particular country or region. What local, national or special cultural aspects could be linked to special events related to sports?
  • Which of the above would it be financially feasible to include in your sports event?
  • At which particular age groups would you like to target your special events? Why this group in particular?
  • Think of the special people in your country who are linked to the sport through cultural activities e.g. Media personalities, photographers and caterers. Would it be possible to have any of these individuals involved in your programme? If so, who might attend?
  • Think about people who have played a role in your country’s sports history. How might they be involved in your programme?
  • What other ideas come to mind related to how you might add a few “extras” to this special event?

Organization of the Event

The following steps might be helpful to get you organized for your sports event:

  • Set up a schedule with the names and phone numbers of the principal people involved in preparing for this event.
  • Set up your Gantt chart and stick to it.
  • Allow enough time to handle all aspects, such as facilities which must be booked early.
  • Set up a detailed agreement of duties and expectations for each committee chairperson. The event director uses this agreement to coordinate work with individual chairpersons and the entire committee of chairpersons.
  • Prepare more extensive checklists relating to procedures, necessary personnel, cooperative arrangements with other committees, and necessary equipment and supplies. Review these checklists so that every detail is covered.
  • Each committee should have a checklist of all the tasks to be completed in their area of responsibility. These should be checked off as they are accomplished.
  • Consider spectator needs as well as participant requirements.
  • Meet regularly to monitor progress. Hold a rehearsal sufficiently in advance to rectify unexpected problems.
  • Follow-up is as crucial as planning and the actual event. The final report could contain the history of the project, the committee structure, the program outline, results, and recommendations.
  • Delegate as much responsibility as you can without risking quality.
  • Continually thank and support all volunteers.
  • Maintain consistent and frequent communication between the event director and various committees.
  • Consider safety and risk management.
  • Ask for feedback from those involved.
  • Prepare specific written guidelines on how to record expenses, receipts, and invoices.
  • Use clear, well-organized registration forms that are easily organized and filed.
  • Be optimistic and realistic. Stay calm no matter what happens.
Information to and from participants

Each club, team or participant, depending on the type of event, should be sent an information sheet which details

  • The exact title of the event;
  • who is organizing it, with a name, address, and telephone number;
  • The exact location and details of how to get there;
  • The exact dates and timings of the events;
  • The conditions for entry;
  • The deadlines for entry and how to enter;
  • To whom entries and information required from participants should be sent, and;
  • Any other information, such as the format of the competition, prizes and entry fees.

Each team or participant should be required to complete the entry form and send it back by the appropriate date. Make this easy for them!

This entry form should ideally include:
  • Names of participants
  • playing standards (if required for seeding)
  • The signature of participants, agreeing to abide by the terms of competition,
  • The name of the team, club, and individual contact person, as well as addresses and business and home telephone numbers, and
  • Any entry fees.

Greet your guests! At the airport, try to make the arrival and departure easy for visitors. Meet visitors. Have information kiosks readily visible and staffed with friendly, helpful volunteers. Give assistance with customs and immigration if possible. Ensure transportation options are clear and make visitors’ trips to and from the airport as easy as possible.

This may seem overwhelming at first but it gets easier the more you do it.  Remember, the is no shame in having a guide or procedure for organizing sports events. You can print this guide out and use it as a checklist the next time you are tasked with the responsibility of organizing a sports event.

If this is your first event. No matter how minor or major. We highly suggest that you work side by side with someone who is trained to organize sports events.

Bringing it all together

Overall, to organize a successful sports event you need to follow the following four tested steps. These are Bidding, Planning, Organising, and Closing. These will guide you throughout the process of organizing and hosting the event successfully. Remember, you do not necessarily have to tick each and every box. Only those that apply to your specific sports event.

If you enjoyed this article. You might also enjoy these posts inspired by similar topics:

What ideas can you add to this process that we might have missed? You can share them in the comment section below. Finally, we publish articles like this every week and we would like to increase our readership to spread the word about how Sports and Exercise can be utilized to improve the quality of human life. Can you help us out by sharing this blog post? Don’t forget to subscribe. Until next time. Keep moving.

Works Cited
[1] R. Jackson, Sport administration manual, Lausanne: International Olympic Committee, 2014.
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Thando W. Dlamini, BA

Sport Development and Exercise Science Practitioner

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1 Response

  1. oprolevorter says:

    This really answered my problem, thank you!

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