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The Sport Information Resource Centre

How Sport Organizations Should Prepare for 2022: Events, Technology, and More

After the uncertain period we’ve all had, it can be hard to plan properly for next year. Even with a return to normalcy, some things may return forever changed. What does the new normal look like?

For sports clubs, events and organizations, it can be especially difficult to know what to expect given the fragmented nature of our economic and social recovery. After all, the sports industry has been hit especially hard by the pandemic. But we’re hopeful that the light at the end of the tunnel is near.

Lately, we noticed that our sports organizations are grappling with many of the same issues, so we broke them down below. They cover staffing, events, demand, finances, and sports technology. We hope you can use this information to anticipate some of the changes that await in 2022 and we would welcome your feedback and thoughts.

Staffing Issues

Due to the pandemic, most sports organizations have been operating on a shortage of resources and staff. As a result, the staff that are available are often overworked or burnt out.

Expect staffing to be an ongoing issue, and take steps to make sure your staff have the tools and work/life balance they need to contribute productively to your organization. Take advantage of the rise of remote work by experimenting with hybrid in-person and remote work, or even full-time remote work. You may be surprised by the results.

The Return of Events, 2.0

Sporting events are slowly returning, but expect them to look a bit different.

After a long lockdown, athletes, coaches, and volunteers are ready to return to their local sports clubs or events. Make the comeback worth their while by improving upon pre-pandemic experiences.

For events, focus on the guest experience from the moment they walk through the door. Ensure that athletes have enough time and space to connect with others — they’re craving those in-person connections now more than ever.

As event organizers, your responsibility is to keep participants happy and healthy so that they want to come back next year. Your events may feature social distancing, indoor mask-wearing, sanitization stations, and other mainstays of a post-COVID world, but that doesn’t mean guests will have a lesser experience. In fact, use post-event surveys to ask participants how you can make the next event even better for them.

Sport organizations and events should also be ready to deal with more risks related to health protocols. These include event cancellations or postponements, registrant cancellations, and health declarations and tracking. Clients will increasingly base their decision to register for events on the ability to purchase upgraded refundable terms as insurance against unforeseen future changes. In response, you should be prepared to integrate these upgraded terms into your event registration process.  Managing risk and liability are always important, so ensuring you factor in acknowledgment by athletes of health protocols that must be followed and confirmation of vaccine status/passport should be included in the registration process.  Having robust systems to ensure that as an event organizer you can prove later on that the participant read, understood, and agreed to these are very important as well as on the day-checking of vaccine passports.

Pent-Up Demand

In the wake of the COVID-19 health crisis, people are looking to get fitter and embrace local social interactions once more. Thus, we may see a big surge in new registrants — especially adults — to sports clubs and organizations. Our survey found that nearly 90% of sport administrators reported athletes having pent-up demand to return to their local club or sporting event.

Make sure to prepare the proper staff, resources, and facilities to anticipate this trend. Also, be aware that athlete preferences may have changed. Some sports, like cycling and running, have thrived during lockdown, while others — such as youth sports — may permanently lose new or current members. It’s a reality of our changing times, but once you adapt to these growing pains, you’ll be even better equipped than before to serve your community.

Financial Adjustments

Going forward, bear in mind that it’s normal to experience budgetary fluctuation due to inflation and additional costs associated with maintaining health protocols. Your sponsors, too, may be facing financial constraints, but they are open to new possibilities, such as virtual events. Operating under a tighter budget could also mean refocusing priorities on important issues in the sports world, such as gender inequality.

Even as sports organizations and sponsors face financial challenges, the average Canadian saved about $5,000 during the pandemic. So the good news is that, combined with pent-up demand to get out and get active, you can expect to see increased interest at your sports club or organization.

Increased Technologization

Perhaps one of the most significant changes we anticipate for 2022 is increased digitization.

In addition to streamlining processes, technology helps decrease physical touchpoints and improve public safety. For example, digital membership cards are replacing physical ones, and members will check in using QR codes or other touchless methods. Digital membership cards, in particular, are much more convenient and versatile for both users and administrators.

Technology will also help integrate every step of the registration process, from digital agreements to payments to waivers to COVID-19 declarations. Interpodia’s integrated system allows administrators and registrants to handle every step of the process on one easy-to-use platform. Doing so helps eliminate dropouts and human error during the validation process.

Conclusion

An unpredictable future can be a scary one, but we hope that these pointers help guide your event, club or organization in the right direction going forward. The pandemic has accelerated change in most industries, including sports, so use this time as a chance to grow and improve the athletic experience for all your members.

Be prepared for some major changes involving your staff, events, demand from members, finances, and technological capabilities. We can’t go back to exactly how things were before, but we can control how we create a better future for our communities. Embracing change — and uncertainty — is the key to thriving in 2022 and beyond.

About Interpodia Technology

The Interpodia Technology Corp is a sports management technology provider that provides sports organizations, clubs, and events with a variety of services that facilitate membership management and event registration. Their systems integrate with communication tools, management and fulfillment centers, and background check systems and allow officers and administrators access to features like digital membership cards, digital waiver management, and fundraising tools.


Interpodia’s sense of innovation gives them the ability to achieve the best possible results in creating sports digital platforms that make their client’s businesses easier to manage. If you would like to learn more about Interpodia’s sport-specific registration platforms or discuss best practices for registration processes, reach out for a free consultation here.