Running a sports event

by frank-stuart

Sports event managers turn concepts into reality. Running an event requires a lot of planning and reliable people with a number of different skills to ensure the event runs smoothly. Whether it’s a local car rally or the Australian Grand Prix, a great deal of thought and preparation must go into all stages of the event management process.

Here are some things to think about when organising sports events…

Aims and objectives

One of the first tasks of an event manager is to determine what the event is trying to achieve. Once you answer that question, you can start planning how you’ll meet that objective. The planning stage involves identifying the resources needed to conduct the event, creating a timeline, setting up the necessary infrastructure, ensuring health and safety regulations are adhered to, securing sponsorship, and a number of other tasks.

Risk management

All sports events need to have contingency plans in place in case there are unforeseen circumstances. Event managers need to identify all the potential risks and know how they would deal with those hurdles. Inclement weather is one of the most common disruptions to sports events. Think about how often rain has forced the cancellation of matches at the Australian Open. There are contingency plans for those matches to be rescheduled to ensure the integrity of the draw is kept intact and the event stays within its two-week timeframe. Other risks can include security breaches, equipment failure, under-resourcing, medical emergencies and aggressive crowd behaviour.


A well-organised committee is crucial to the success of a sporting event. Committee members need to have relevant skills and attributes and be managed by someone who is a good communicator and a methodical planner. Committee members would usually be responsible for specific tasks such as operations, public relations and finance. Committee members also need to liaise with hired staff during sports events to ensure everything is running smoothly.


The scale of the event will determine how many people you need working at it. Some events are run purely by volunteers, while some require paid staff. It’s important for all sports events to have reliable judges, referees, security staff, customer service officers, and “behind the scenes” workers.

In the case of the biggest sporting event in the world, the Olympic Games, thousands of paid staff and volunteers are required to make it run successfully. The quality of service provided by the Sydney Olympic volunteers was reportedly one of the reasons it was declared the best Olympics ever.

Marketing and sponsorship

Sponsorship is often a crucial component of sports events. Even the most traditional and famous events can be endangered by lack of sponsorship. The Stawell Gift was in danger of folding in 2006, but was saved by a new sponsorship deal.

The key to securing sponsorship is convincing potential sponsors that it’s worth it. This is just one reason event managers must have a solid marketing plan in place – not simply to generate exposure to the public, but to show sponsors that they mean business.


Still interested in managing sports events? ACPE offers a Bachelor of Sports Business which incorporates a range of sports business functions including sports management.

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