8 Tips for Hosting Athletic Events (Part 2)

Do you want your athletic department to make some money? Of course you do! Hosting athletic events is the best way to bolster your athletic budget. If it wasn’t for the athletic events that we hosted each year at VBA, our athletic department would drop into the red by mid basketball season. Last week we gave you the first four tips for hosting athletic events. Today we round out the list with the final four.

Read the first four tips for hosting an athletic event!

Execute the Plan

Plan the work; work the plan. We all know how easy that is said, but it’s still extremely hard to do.

Having thought ahead about each detail, you’ll be prepared to put on the best possible event.

Here is general list of things to consider when planning an event:

  • location/venue
  • parking
  • expenses
  • scheduling
  • publication
  • spectator prices
  • equipment condition
  • knowledge of facilities in case of emergency
  • communication
  • set-up
  • clean-up (you don’t want to be stuck by yourself)
  • volunteers

You will add or remove items from that list as you begin to organize your event and deal with the many differences in venues, competitions, and people.

Be on time. Overtimes happen and injuries can eat the clock. You can’t control that. However, make sure the tournament proceeds on schedule.

That is easier said than done. Due to Murphy’s law, you need to have a back-up plan. Weather, scheduling conflicts, misunderstandings, and a myriad of other problems will show up. When they do, you had better be ready.

This becomes increasingly difficult if you are also coaching a team in your tournament. If you are, it’s best to appoint someone else in your athletic department as the tournament director to avoid any conflict of interests. This will leave you to coach your team and let your director handle the administration.

Every event needs many people to help. Make sure that you over-communicate with your officials, participants, fans, and volunteers.

You especially want to make sure that everyone knows exactly how you want things done. The way that they perform their job is a reflection of the school athletic department. Be sure to share your vision for the event with them.


Know your Bracket, your Sport, and your Awards

Not all events are the same. Make sure that you know what standard operating procedures are for a normal tournament in the sport you’re hosting.

Volleyball tournaments usually have pool play and then a seeded knock-out round. Basketball tournaments usually guarantee at least three games. Cross country meets have different race distances depending on where you live. Football tournaments don’t exist.

There is a certain expectation for every type of event. Don’t fail to meet it when hosting yours.

You also need to figure out what awards you’re doing. If you have a consolation bracket then you need team trophies for first, second, third, and fifth. Then you need to figure out your individual awards. We recommend an all-tournament team selection per team and then a tournament MVP.

Once you’ve got your tournament style figured out, make sure you have enough teams to fill it.

Schools don’t pay $200 for a first round bye.

Make sure you get everyone the games they pay for. After all, that’s why people go to tournaments: the extra games!


Don’t Bite the Hand that Feeds

You’re two biggest income sources will be your gate and your entry fees. (unless you’re a beast at soliciting sponsors) Since they are your biggest revenue stream, treat those that pay them right.

Make sure you have some sort of fair gate prices. If fans are just coming for one game, charge them for one game. Have a fee that covers one entire day and then another that covers the entire tournament. You can print out tournament passes or do the old stamp-your-hand-for-reentry deal. Either way, don’t upset the fans.

Next you need to focus on treating the athletic directors and coaches right. Don’t charge them to watch. Take care of them. Coaches and athletic directors are the ones who will more than likely make the call on whether or not they return in the future.



Okay, here are the things that will cause your event to really stand out. They aren’t really anything revolutionary, but they may be things that you have not considered for your event.

1) Gifts for participants and coaches are a classy touch. The tournaments that will be remembered are the ones that give away t-shirts to players. This keeps your tournament on their mind year round. You could give away tournament polo shirts or gift bags to coaches that participate as well.

2) Provide a hospitality room for your coaches and athletic directors. You don’t have to break the bank, but provide sandwiches and snacks. You could also get your families to prepare some things for the spread as well.

3) Every team should have a dressing room that is theirs throughout the duration of the tournament. This gives them a place to prepare and store their things. It’s a nice touch.

4)Players will also enjoy your tournament if you provide some auxiliary contest that they can participate in. Three point contests, serve offs, home run derbies, whatever, be creative. You can charge a fee per entrant and make some money too. Remember, make it an experience.

5) Finally, make sure you have everything covered: equipment, personnel, etc. You want it to be a relaxing environment for all of your competitors. They should just have to worry about competing not calling lines or keeping score.

These extras will make your tournament a yearly destination for teams from the area and maybe even from out-of-state as well.


Put on a quality tournament and it will grow your reputation in the community as well as with your competitors. Hosting a tournament also gives your athletic department a chance to showcase what they can do.

What do you do in your tournaments? What’s the worst tournament experience that you’ve ever had? What’s the best one you’ve ever had?

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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