Sports Event Management: Not Just Fun and Games

stadium_seats2The Super Bowl, NBA All-Star Game and March Madness are just a few of the thousands of sporting events held each year around the world. As a public relations student and sports fan, I have considered trying to get a job in the sports business, specifically event management. However, while a career planning these highly publicized sports events may seem thrilling, I’d better be prepared to do some serious work. There is a lot to be done before fans enter the stadium for the big game.

Just check out some of the planning it took to put on this year’s NBA All-Star Game:

Phoenix Goes All Out for NBA All-Stars

It’s not just about the All-Star Game anymore. This year, Phoenix hosted a three-day extravaganza with an elaborate schedule of festivities for fans.

Planning started in November 2007 when the University of Phoenix Stadium was selected as the venue for the 58th annual NBA All-Star Game. Gail Hunter, NBA senior vice president of events and attractions, wasted no time before starting preparations.

According to a Phoenix Suns press release, Hunter recruited Suns staff to help organize the event, as well as the assistance from city and government officials. Planning required collaboration and communication between all parties involved, in order for the event to come together.

Some of the planning responsibilities included:

Image courtesy of the NBA and Right Guard.

  • Preparing the first All-Star Block Party in the city’s downtown area, where all activities were free to fans;
  • Transforming the Phoenix Convention Center into the NBA playground for the 16th annual Jam Session;
  • Securing sponsors and volunteers for the all the events; and
  • Coordinating media relations that reached a record number of 215 countries in 44 languages, and hosted 300 international media members from 31 countries covering the game. (Imagine putting together that media kit.)

And all that doesn’t even include the planning tasks for the actual basketball games that were played this weekend. Successful sports events don’t just happen. These occasions require a significant amount of time and energy from planning and communication experts working together collaboratively.

The PR Playbook

Yes, the coach might call the shots on the court, but it’s the people behind the scenes who run the show.

A post on Behind the Spin read,

“Sport is both a major international business and a key structure in globalized society. It encompasses business communication as well as cultural and inter-cultural identity internally and externally to stimulate tourism.”

Event planning is a multi-dimensional profession, especially in the sports industry. Professionals coordinating these elaborate sports events must be able to manage various tasks and still remain detail-oriented. Special sports events, like the All-Star game, can affect more than just the team that wins or loses. If a strategic approach is taken and effectively implemented throughout planning process, these types of events can positively impact the environment, economy and the industry.

While it’s important to be innovative when planning these events, don’t forget to use basic PR knowledge:

  • Study the brand
  • Identify a target audience
  • Devise an event concept
  • Implement the plan.

Preparation and good communication are the keys to a successful sports event.

Experience could be the Tiebreaker

APTOPIX NBA All Star Basketball Game EventsThe sports industry is an extremely competitive field. From the athletes playing the game to the PR professionals working behind the scenes, everyone has to earn a spot on the team. Employers are looking to hire young professionals who possess creativity, enthusiasm, strong communication skills and hands-on experience in the industry.

Practice makes perfect. Internships give students the chance to improve basic public relations skills, and become more familiar with the communications strategies specific to the sports industry. An internship can also open the door to making relevant media and professional contacts. Building relationships with people who have already established themselves in the business can generate better job opportunities for a career in the future.

Rookie advice: Apply for internships before graduation and gain the competitive edge necessary to walk into that first job interview with your game face on.