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How is technology aiding the return to sport? To find out, we surveyed executives across 25 different national and provincial sport organizations to gain insight into current and future trends in return-to-sport, risk management, and technology.

No doubt about it, the events of 2020 greatly impacted the sports world, and sport management technology was not immune. In 2021, we are all seeking certainty, and one trend we have noticed across our sector is the digital transformation in registration, waiver management, coach licensing, and club and event affiliations. With athlete participation being a number 1 concern for sports organizations, budgets are expected to be tight in the coming year. This puts decisions around technology and administration processes under more scrutiny than ever before. In the article below, we share insights from our survey and bites of wisdom from your peers in the sports industry sector.

Insights from our Survey

Sport is a unique sector in that organizations are not competitors in a traditional business sense. Everyone wants more participants, but at the end of the day, the majority of humans do not meet recommended activity levels and are missing out on the benefits of sport. The market for potential growth in sports is massive. Therefore, in the sports world, it is in everyone’s best interest to share best practices between organizations on how to reach potential athletes, fans, and make a swifter return to sport, especially in the light of a health pandemic.

So let’s take a look at our results!

Interpodia infographic displaying survey results.

As you can see the average for returning participants this last year was around 65%, so if your organization is around there- you are not alone! The majority of our respondents believe there is pent-up demand for their sport, and that once covid allows, participant uptake will be seen. This is great news!  As for the primary challenges sports organizations are currently facing, almost all respondents listed dealing with the swiftly changing landscape as a top obstacle. Shortly followed by reduced revenue streams and the need to restructure programs and services. 

As part of the survey, we also asked respondents to share their words of wisdom, asking what advice they would share that they have learned through their organization’s return to sport journey. As NSO’s and PSO’s undertake their return-to-play guidelines and policies, new requirements have created new responsibilities for every level of sport.

Here are a few highlights from what they have learned this past year!

Collect data from and connect digitally with your PSOs and affiliated clubs.

We’ve seen an increase in organizations leveraging technology to make athlete data collected by affiliated clubs, including their signed waivers, integrated to PTSOs. This presents many benefits including more direct communication between PTSO’s and their athletes and parents. As well as enabling the PTSO to ensure that every member has the correct memberships and waivers, and that coaches have completed criminal background checks. These types of integrations help remove the burden of compliance from clubs, which tend to have varying degrees of resources and technical sophistication. These integrations also help provide PTSOs with realtime accurate data for operational and strategic reporting purposes e.g. to funding bodies, sponsors, retention and growth efforts.

Graphic of BC Speed Skating quoteGraphic of BC Wrestling

Create a streamlined membership experience for your members and participants.

With participation rates being a primary concern for sport orgs, it is a great time to reduce friction for your athletes when returning to sport is possible. Are your athletes required to fill out one form for the club, then sent to the PSO’s website, then sent waivers to sign? This fractured process allows many opportunities for dropout, in addition to human error during validation. By using technology to integrate data vertically within the sport (from the club, PSO to NSO), you can provide your members with a streamlined registration process to join the club, the PSO, and any activities or programming all in one transaction. Saving time spent reconciling and validating memberships allows you to focus on the programs that really matter.

Graphic of NS SnowboardGraphic of BC Speed Skating

Track certifications/accreditations for people with technical roles to ensure safe sport standards.

Through the last several years we have seen tightened policies around complaint management and other safe sport processes. Stricter responsibility has been placed on sport organizations to protect their members by providing them a safe, fair, and trusted environment. Failure to meet these standards can result in loss of sponsorship, fanbase, and funding. Yet carrying out these processes manually can be burdensome. This is where we have seen most organizations moving to advanced technology such as our Certification Tracking System to automate and integrate data into their database. This switch also allows you to check off your to-do list faster by integrating your sport management system with third-party education and background check systems, meaning sport administrators have the tools and information they need together in one place.

Graphic of Badminton Canada quote

Grow a digital community & increase communication by leveraging technology.

Covid-19 has caused great uncertainty, elevated stress and anxiety, and has even created a tunnel vision, in which people focus only on the present. However, it has been observed that organizations that communicate openly and often with their members can create clarity, build resilience, and even catalyze positive change. A universal sentiment we heard from survey respondents was the importance of almost over-communicating with your members and participants. During this uncertain time members want to hear the latest sanctions, news, plans, what projects your organization is working on for the future. They want to hear about hope.

Graphic of Badminton Canada quoteGraphic of Cheer Manitoba quote

Summing it Up

Across the board, the advice we heard echoed was to stay open-minded and to think outside the box for different solutions. This year our clients created unique solutions to challenges such as creating virtual events and challenges, using digital membership cards for contactless registrations, and building new integrations with merchandise fulfillers to create new revenue streams. We’ve also heard the importance of remaining agile, the ability to constantly adapt to the moving standards is a huge advantage.  A few tips we learned from some agile sport organizations are 1) create smaller teams with end-to-end responsibilities 2) involve stakeholders early on and keep communication concise and constant 3) empower teams to create their own processes. 

We will continue to see changes through 2021 and we hope these tips and insights from our roundup will be helpful to you for what lays ahead. At Interpodia we have worked with sport leaders to implement technology solutions that respond to the need for streamlined processes that satisfy the requirements of insurance providers and return to sport guidelines. What are the objectives and the key results that your organization measures for your current or upcoming season?

If you would like to learn more about Interpodia, visit our site at 

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.

About Interpodia

Interpodia Technology 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.