Running your own recreational league or tournament is one of the most rewarding things you can do. However, it is also one of the most difficult and stressful things you can do. If you’ve played in any type of league before that ran smoothly, chances are there was a mastermind or two that focused on each little detail to ensure the league ran smoothly. That’s what it takes to run a successful league or tournament, though.
Let’s jump right into what you need to know about running your own successful league or tournament.
1. Figure out your costs
Running a league is a lot of work, so you want to make sure you leave room for at least a 25% profit. The facility itself can take up about 35% of your cost. Referees and staff make up about 20%. The remaining amount goes to advertising, trophies, equipment and other miscellaneous expenses. If you can run a tournament for $5,000-$6,000, then charge a couple thousand dollars more for your profit and divide that by the amount of teams that are playing to get your total cost per team.
2. Find a venue
Prices of venues or facilities will vary greatly. Depending on the sport you play, you could look at parks, community centers, schools, sports complexes or even church centers. Finding a facility that is nice and close to the majority of your player base will help increase your turnout.
3. Hire referees and helpers
The quality of the referees that you hire can make or break your league. Try to find referees that have some experience in the sport that your league is about. Referees have the tough job of keeping the game flowing, dealing with heckling fans or players and enforcing the rules you set. Pay them at least the going rate and they will do their job a lot better.
4. Make rules/registration forms
Don’t reinvent the wheel with this step. Find some rules and forms from a previous league that you attended, or look online for a set of rules. If you try to create them from scratch, there’s a good chance you will miss something and it will take up a lot of your time regardless.
Print some flyers and post them around the local parks and around any other hot spots throughout neighborhoods. If you aren’t advertising on some sort of social media platform, then you aren’t doing it right. Know who your potential players are (i.e. kids or adults) and tailor your advertising to them. Encourage people to give you a call and stay engaged with anyone that are interested. If people don’t know about your league, then they aren’t going to sign up, it’s that simple.
6. Payment policies
Ideally, teams will pay you with cash or check when they send in their registration forms. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. Sometimes you will have a proactive team leader that trusts their teammates to pay them back, but other times you may have to keep bugging them to collect payment. Make the payment as easy as possible. You may have to invest in a Square account or other forms of payment that can make it hassle free. Otherwise, the hassle will likely be on you.
7. Create your schedule/brackets
Unless you are a seasoned pro at creating schedules and brackets, you would benefit from having someone else help you with this step. This is one of the most difficult steps because there are so many variables you have to look out for. The most embarrassing thing that could happen is scheduling a team to play two different games at the same time. Find some resources online that will help you create the schedule, but always get someone else to look over it for any crucial mistakes.
8. Manage your league and stay active
Once the league or tournament starts, it’s your time to shine. Make sure everyone sees your face and knows your name. Get feedback from the participants and don’t shy away from anyone. Be organized and prepared to answer any and all questions that people might have. When people know that you have all your stuff together, they will be more likely to sign up for your league in the future. And finally, follow through with your promises. No one likes to hear promises that can’t be kept. You owe it to yourself and to your participants to be straightforward and do what’s in the best interest of the players and the league.