We are a few short weeks off of hitting the one-year mark of dealing with this pandemic. This year has brought considerable volatility to our sports clubs and organizations. Most sports have had to heavily modify how they deliver and participate in their sports. For some organizations, this has placed significant stress on operating budgets and income sources. I imagine that for some, concern is growing about whether they will be able to outlast this time and return to normal operations. Concern is also growing about whether participants will return once we go back to regularly scheduled programming. Will people have the money and availability to return to our programs? How do we keep members engaged?
I strongly believe in thinking outside the box. I am all about re-evaluating tradition. If we look around at other sports or industries, is there anything we can borrow that would work well in our own environments? By borrowing good practices from others, we are thinking smarter, not harder. Below, I make 3 suggestions of 4 great ideas I’ve seen recently that your organization could use.
Earlier this month, Canada Soccer announced its first ever Toyota eNational Championships, which takes place this weekend and next. Esports are growing leaps and bounds in popularity, which makes sense, since it’s one of the sports that we can play, as designed, right now. They have 350 players signed up to compete in their tournament, and it will be exciting to see what the results are.
Boccia Canada got in on the action and hosted an online boccia competition in December. Boccia is played by Paralympic athletes, but this competition also included a category for family and friends. There were virtual opening and closing ceremonies and three competitions- a head-to-head competition using the Boccia Battle app, a skills challenge and a trivia challenge. You can watch the games on their Youtube channel. Perhaps your organization could run an esports tournament!
Several sports are getting into online competitions. Rowing Canada hosted an indoor rowing challenge in November. Participants could sign up for a range of events (500m, 1000m, and 2000m) in a variety of categories. As long as you had a Concept2 rowing machine and could submit your results in a 48-hour window, you could compete. There was live broadcasting and fabulous prizes. Check out the live recap here.
Rowing Canada was so happy with the results, that they just launched The Great Indoors, an online hub for indoor rowing resources, news and events. It’s perfect for those who have never used an indoor rower before and for those who do indoor rowing regularly. There are also six weekly challenges that begin next week. Very cool stuff!
Yes, ok, this does take big planning, and potentially big investments into infrastructure for things like software and online production. How could this work for you? How about a challenge on your social media pages? A live workout? Going where the kids are and starting a TikTok account to post bite-sized coaching and playing tips? There are many small-scale options that could simulate a sport experience.
Personal and Community Development
Shifting to off the competition floor, there are lots of other options to keep your membership engaged. You could host a webinar with an established player, a respected coach or official, or someone from your governing association. It could be a specialist to talk about one specific element of your sport, or someone to talk about your sport more generally. There are plenty of people who would be thrilled to be asked and impart their wisdom to your group.
Weyburn Soccer Association
You could offer development opportunities for your participants. Recently, I was invited by Weyburn Soccer Association to lead a session on goal setting with athletes who were aged 11 to 15. We had a great hour talking about what makes a goal ‘good’ and what we need to maintain a strong mindset and stay motivated when we get frustrated. We used an interactive workbook to brainstorm goals that we wanted to achieve in sport and in life. There are many topics that would be educational and could support the development of your athletes, coaches, and officials.
I hope the real-life examples of what other sport organizations have been doing to deliver sport differently to keep people engaged has sparked brainstorming for you. Are you doing something different to keep members engaged in your organization? I’d love to know- send me a message and tell me about it!