8 Tips for Hosting Athletic Events (Part 1)

One of the best ways to raise money for each sport or for your athletic department as a whole is by hosting athletic events. This isn’t a big secret. Every coach and athletic director gets multiple emails and phone calls inviting their teams to tournaments, jamborees, and meets every season. The key, however, to making these events work for you is the execution. Anyone can get a bunch of teams together in one place to play, but the execution of your plan is what ultimately makes the event successful for you.

Read the other four tips for hosting athletic events in Part 2 of this article.

We’ve all been to events that are top-of-the-line, first-class experiences. Unfortunately though, we’ve all also been to some that were a giant headache for players, coaches, athletic directors, and fans.

Here is some information that we pray you find helpful for executing a first class tournament. You’ll get four of the eight tips today and the remaining four next week.


Consider Your Budget

This is athletic director 101. You want to make money on this venture. Therefore, basic economics apply: you want to take in more that you pay out. Your basic tournament costs include officials, trophies, facilities (this includes rental, cleaning, and maintenance), and extras.

Your income should come from:

  • entry fees
  • gate
  • concessions
  • sponsorships

Every athletic event is different, though. So consider what you are offering and what is normal before you set an entry fee. Don’t be scared to charge what you need to either. People will pay if it’s done right.

However, in the realm of small, Christian and private schools, no tournament you host should ever have and entry fee that exceeds $250.

If you can’t pull off your tournament for a profit while charging $250 a pop then maybe you shouldn’t be hosting one.

If we’re going to a tournament and we’re paying $250 or more. We better be getting “the works” in return.


Lock in Some Sponsorships

If the cost of your event is too much and you project a loss, don’t worry, you still may be able to host. You’ll need to get some sponsorships, though.

Local businesses usually look to sponsor events like this. Banks, sporting good stores, and small businesses may especially be interested.

Don’t waste your time soliciting national companies unless you have a good connection.

Most of their sponsorships need to go through corporate approval and require months of advance notice. They also are usually looking for something with a bit more publicity than what you’re offering.

If a business won’t donate hard cash to sponsor, see if you can get them to provide goods for one of your extras. This will help you cut down on the cost.


Provide an Experience

At our level, it’s easy to separate yourself from all the other events with a little extra work.

Provide an exciting, unforgettable experience for the athletes and coaches.

  • Pay close attention to the atmosphere of your tournament.
  • Do you have music?
  • What about an announcer?
  • Are the trophies displayed prominently so that the athletes know what hardware they are fighting for?
  • Is there a tournament logo, and if so is that logo prominently displayed as well?

Call in the local paper, and see if you can get a photographer there.

So many tournaments give you a bracket and schedule, play the games, hand you the trophy, and count the money. Make the atmosphere of your tournament so exciting that athletes enjoy being there.


Don’t Skimp on the Big Things

Whether or not you can lock in sponsors or provide an experience, one thing is for sure: if there are glaring holes in your tournament, people will not be happy.

The devil may be in the details, but don’t neglect the most visible things about your tournament.

Athletic directors might notice little things that are poorly done with your event. However, you really want to make sure that fans, athletes, and coaches don’t find anything wrong with the event. So don’t screw up the things that are easily noticed.

Don’t pay for the discount officials. Call your coordinator and make sure you schedule the best referees available.

Also, if you’re charging an average entry fee don’t ask schools to provide things like scoreboard operators or line judges. That’s tacky and very cheap. People might not say it to your face, but it’s not cool.

Make sure your facilities are clean and functioning properly. Nothing will derail a tournament faster than a slick court or unkempt grounds. Your officials and your facilities leave a big impression.


These are just four tips on hosting athletic events. We’ll have the other four next week. Hopefully, this will be a help to you as you plan athletic events at your school this year.

Want some more tips? Check out Part 2 of this article for the remaining tips for hosting athletic events.

Jeff is the athletic director at Victory Baptist Academy. He is also the founder and administrator of TheAthleticDirectors.com.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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