Planning and Organizing a Sports Event [Checklist + PDF included]

Organizing a sport or recreation event can be a daunting task, particularly for an individual or committee planning an event for the first time. While the scale of the events varies dramatically, the principles of event management essentially remain the same. This information sheet provides an overview of some of the major issues to consider when planning and running an event.

Planning and preparation a Sport Event

Effective planning and preparation are crucial to the success of an event. There are numerous elements involved in planning and preparation.

Purpose of the event

In planning an event it is important to understand why the event is being held, who it is for and who it will benefit. Having a clear focus and defined objectives will help direct the planning process.

Timing and location of the event

When and where an event takes place can have a significant impact on its overall success. When considering the best time of the day, month or year to hold an event, it is important to consider other events that may complement or compete with the event you are organizing.

With regard to location, there are many variables to consider, including the availability of facilities, accommodation, transport, and the support of local stakeholders.

The organizing committee and event manager

There is usually more than one person involved in organizing a sport or recreation event. In many cases, it is useful to establish an organizing committee and clearly assign roles and responsibilities to committee members. There should be an event manager appointed who has overall control of the event and is ultimately responsible for the major decisions and directions of the committee.

Event checklist

In order to allocate responsibilities to individuals on the organizing committee, the committee must have a clear idea of all the different aspects of the event, including venue, equipment, staffing, communication, catering, garbage, toilets, money handling, medical, hospitality, transport, prizes, trophies, and ceremonies.

It is useful to compile an event plan, or checklist, which will ensure that all aspects of the event are considered and adequately addressed in the planning stages. See the example event checklist at the end of this document to help you organize your event.

Finances and budget

When preparing for an event it is important that all sources of income and all costs are accounted for, including hidden costs and in-kind support. Developing an event checklist before the budget will ensure that all costs are considered.

The event manager or organizing committee should work closely with a financial manager or club treasurer to ensure the event follows the relevant financial procedures.


Once the event manager and the organizing committee have a clear understanding of the finances and budget, they may wish to secure sponsorship for the event.

When looking at sponsorship it is important that the organizing committee has a clear idea of what it is that they would like from potential sponsors (i.e. money, free publicity, discounts, goods and services). The committee must also be clear on what the event can offer potential sponsors (i.e. free advertising, publicity, naming rights, media coverage and exposure for new products).

Developing a profile of the event (i.e. a brief history of the event, number and type of participants, media coverage and publicity) will help the committee to target relevant sponsors and to highlight the benefits of being involved with the event.

Any attempt to secure sponsorship should be based on a definite sponsorship strategy that targets specific organizations and tailors the approach to each organization. A general mail out requesting sponsorship from many different organizations is generally unsuccessful.

Promotion and publicity

Regardless of the size of the event, it is important to consider the level of publicity and promotion required. While some events may require minimal publicity or promotion (depending on the aim, target audience and existing profile), in most cases event organizers will aim to maximize the profile of the event through promotion (controlled and paid for by organizers) and publicity (media coverage).

Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for this aspect of the event organizers to be overlooked or left to the last minute, which can result in poor exposure for the event, a poor turn out of participants and unsatisfied sponsors.

When looking at publicity, it is important to consider various forms of media (print, radio, online and television) and different ways to approach each of these.

If preparing media releases there are numerous guides available to help format the information in a way that is understandable and attractive to media sources.

Having a clear idea of the focus of publicity and promotion (i.e. increasing awareness and participation or increasing exposure of sponsors) should influence the approach taken.

Approvals and legal requirements

When organizing an event in a public facility, or on land owned by someone other than the organizing group, it is important to get the approval and any permits or licenses required by the property owners or land managers.

It is common for land and facility managers to ask for evidence of insurance and risk management procedures from the event organizer before approval or permits are granted.

In most cases, it is advisable that the organizing committee or organization responsible for the event becomes an incorporated body in order to limit the potential legal liability of individual members. If in doubt, the event manager should seek professional legal advice in this area.

Implementation and evaluation

Event delivery

If sufficient time and effort have been put into planning and preparation, the event should run smoothly. The event manager should have a checklist of tasks with time frames to keep the event on track.

Effective communication is essential to ensure the event goes to plan. There will always be minor difficulties and challenges; however, hopefully, most of these will have been considered and there will be contingency plans to address problems as they arise.

During the event, it is important to take the time to publicly acknowledge the contribution of staff, volunteers and sponsors.

Post event

After the event has been held, the following should occur:

  • Formally thank all those involved in organizing and running the event
  • Provide sponsors with a report on the event and thank them for their involvement
  • Contact the media with any final results and media releases
  • Pay any outstanding accounts
  • Review the event and keep an accurate record of the organizing committee’s methods and activities in order to learn from any mistakes and to make the process of organizing future events easier.

The event checklist below can be used as a guide to help manage your sport event

Sports Event Management Checklist

  • Planning sports event
    • Event overview
    • Event plan
    • Event manager and staff
    • Event description
    • Event objectives
    • Timeline
    • Budget
    • Identify the targeted audience
  • Operations
    • Event overview
    • Police contact
    • Permits
    • Public Liability
    • Insurance
    • Security
    • Health and safety permits
    • Emergency access
    • Ambulance and first aid
    • Venue cleaning
    • Parking
    • Transport
    • Risk management
  • Consultation with stakeholders
    • Consultation register
    • Planning meeting
    • Briefing – before event
    • Debriefing – after the event
  • Planning for the event
    • Selection of a venue
    • Site plan
    • Noise
    • Inclement weather contingency plan
    • Information center and communication
    • Catering, food and water
    • Lighting and power
    • Toilets
    • Fencing
    • Entry and exit details
    • Vehicle access
    • Disability access
    • Seating
    • Ticketing
    • Contract suppliers
    • Develop run order or event schedule
  • Publicity and promotion
    • Pre-event promotion: newspapers, radio
    • Media releases and media kits
    • Invitations
    • Programs
    • Posters
    • Flyers and postcards
    • Signage
    • Website
  • Sponsorship and merchandise
    • Sponsorship strategy
    • Potential sponsors
    • Evaluation of a sponsorship program
    • Merchandise
  • Management of alcohol
    • Permit conditions
    • BYO and non-BYO events
    • Responsible Service of Alcohol (RSA)
    • Minors
    • Beverage options
    • Beverage containers
    • Trading hours
    • Alcohol consumption areas
  • Compile a file
    • Documents to be kept

Also Read: 11 Event Checklists for Event Planners

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