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A Critical Debate on Key Management Success Factors for Various Sporting Events Analytical Essay

Brief introduction and general overview

This essay is written to demonstrate the various management success factors for the many sporting events. The current competitive business environment has created abundant challenges for event managers in ensuring success for their various sporting events.

As was established, from sprinklers to corporate boxes, toilets to food outlets, media to first aid, event and facility managers have to account for the success or failure of sporting events and venues. The preceding assertion emanated from the fact that event managers are required to keep track on all activities happening before, on and after the particular events.

In this study, the author made a follow-up on the above theoretical frameworks and went ahead to identify and critique key factors relevant in ensuring competitive and successful bidding as well as hosting for any sporting event. This essay therefore sought to answer the following argumentative questions: What are the justifications for the need to manage events effectively?

What are some of the key factors necessary for managing sporting events? What have various authors articulated to support or oppose the specifications that need to be addressed in each of the identified factors?

In choosing this current, critical and important topic, the author was motivated by the existence of the following reasons that justified the need for effective events’ management.

Firstly, According to the UK Treasury Report (2007), sporting events exhibited many economic benefits to host nations. This was so simply because other than the pure sporting reasons, major sporting events provided the opportunities of showcasing emerging nations’ or cities’ intangible benefits, economic regeneration as well as positive economic impacts (p.9).

To add, Damster and others (2006) did also support this view by asserting that in light of the large variety of sports played across the globe, mega sporting events have now become big business (p.15).

Moreover, Getz (2007) also came to the support of this view by making a summative statement that pointed out that “economic efficiency” was useful for bidding on and creating events, to the extent that they accumulated revenues or other tangible benefits for publicly owned and subsidized facilities and parks (p.88).

With reference to the above supportive articulations, Clark (2008) therefore arrived at the conclusion that proper planning was needed for any hosting country to realize both the discussed secondary and primary benefits associated with hosting events (p.24).

Despite the above supporting argumentations, the author found out that Fisher and his group (1991) reserved opposing views on the need to consider only the positive impacts when justifying the relevance of effective events management.

This was revealed when the group insisted that other than looking at the positive economic impacts (as Clark, UK Report and Getz did above), it was also important to perform cost benefit analysis on major events. This was important because normal free market economics often failed to take into account negative effects that were external to the specific events.

Again, Getz (2006, p.89) went ahead to support this differing view by listing examples of air pollution, accidents and noise as often caused by traffics-oriented events. Surprisingly, these were normally left out when comprehensive evaluations were being done on the specific events (Getz 2007, p.89).

In the author’s conclusive point of view, this should not be the case. Instead, the author recommends that both the negative and positive impacts should be given equal consideration in the justification for effective management of the various sporting events.

Identification and critique of the various factors

The author initiates this section by noting that though some managers, in assessing the quality or success of sporting events, have assumed that absences of some factors or problems (for instance, bad weather conditions) were the key to staging successful sporting events, different authors have opposed such notions.

As such, this essay paper went ahead to expound on this notion by identifying, listing and critiquing supporting and opposing views on each of the recommended factors of events management.

Understanding of the philosophy (mission statement) surrounding the events

According to Collins and Trenberth (2005, p.362), a statement expressing the purpose or the identity of the organization behind an event is vital at the start of any event plan. This mission statement should be followed by logic or reasons behind the staging of the event; the statement should clearly express the way in which strategies of an organization or agency fit into the particular event (Tonge, 2010, p.12).

Though the two authors gave valid reasons on the need for event managers to incorporate the understanding of the philosophy as a key factor, a recent study by Epstein and the group (2010) had contradicting views on this. These three scholars were of the view that there was need to provide relevant information to event managers.

As such, these scholars suggested that other than choosing the understanding of the mission statement, event managers should be re-directed to look at this notion as falling under the broader aspect of availing relevant information.

The author went ahead to derive that on insisting on the availability of relevant information, these groups of scholars were motivated by the fact that the availability of specific and relevant data and information was likely to reduce the many uncertainties surrounding the particular events.

However, though the two groups of authors expressed views that appeared to be slightly contradicting, the author arrived at the conclusion that the presence of relevant information (for instance from past events) was likely to provide equip event managers with a lot of knowledge. This can then be used in the formulation of the specific mission statements for the specific events.

Understanding participant expectations

A study by Parrish (2003) was of the view that it is pertinent that managers of particular sporting events pay attention to participant expectations (especially for grassroots or local events) and the various factors that might influence these expectations (p.171).

From a management perspective, participatory event directors should familiarize themselves with the “gap model” of service quality, and in particular, realize that participant expectations are a key component in participants’ event satisfaction (Parrish, 2003, p.171).

In assessing participant expectations, sporting event managers should make use of various variables, for example, the use of the participants’ skill levels (either advanced or lower) to clearly match these events with their appropriate sponsors; thus benefiting both the sponsors and the specific events (Nico, 2010, pp.2-4).

However, a study by Collins and Trenberth (2005, pp.361-362) stressed on the need of the event manager deriving the reasons or the expectations of the hosting organization as opposed to participant expectations. The views of the two authors were defended when they went ahead to re-state that it was from the clearly stated organizational expectations that the participant expectations can be easily derived.

Though the assertions by these last authors may appear as justified, the author of this essay proposed that a linkage need not to be drawn in such manner since this may present an uncertainty scenario to the sporting event managers. As such, the author points out that it would be of greater help to the sporting event managers if they went ahead to treat the 2 on independent basis.

Proper financial planning/ budgeting

In staging successful sporting events, event managers are required to brainstorm all potential areas of expenditure and income under the obvious catch all categories such as administration, marketing, event control, social events and merchandising (Collins & Trenberth, 2005, p.366).

In assessing the monetary sources associated with specific events, event managers are required to evaluate the hosting city’s attractiveness to corporate sponsorship; since this is a key factor along with the proposed television package for broadcasting the event in question (Woods, 2007, p.148). A good example of how event managers successfully “tapped” on this factor occurred during the staging of the 1996 Olympic Games.

The event managers, in their efforts to stage a successful event, chose on Atlanta, Coca Cola’s home territory, as the hosting city. As a result of its strategic positioning, the event was able to attract Coke’s corporate sponsorship when the giant multinational corporation seized the chance to advertise its products and services to the event’s global audience.

Other than evaluating the hosting city’s attractiveness to corporate sponsorship, a recent study by Ottova-Leitmannova (2008) had additional did establish that the financial aspects have proved to be complex roles for many event managers since they necessitated managing multitudes of activities within changing environments. For event managers to succeed in this role, both breadth and depth knowledge and experience are necessary.

As Liu and Ottova-Leitmannova (2008, p.xv) advised, “event managers’ training needs to be diverse and extend to areas within the realm of event management”. These additional areas include ethics, marketing, facility management, sponsorships and law.

The training need is important since the pressure that is created at major sporting events by the expectation of the worldwide audience and the media is enormous; and thus a contingency plans to address the financial aspects of the events are vital.

Moreover, as Collins and Trenbertha (2005) postulated, “the acceptance that for the participants, the event begins before they arrive and extends beyond the time they leave, has financial implications-presenting revenue opportunities that extend well beyond the typical entry fees, gate takings, hot dogs and programme sales.

In trying to overcome the financial constraints associated with staging major events, event managers are required to understand that their experience or knowledge is above the worth of the sporting event itself.

As such, their accumulated knowledge and experience can be used as a pointer to the many financial resources that include amongst others; pre-event functions, activities adjacent or outside the venue, parking, on site and post event merchandising and recordings or sale of event videos (Bennett & Baird, 2001, pp.100-103).

To conclude on this critical factor, the author points out that too often many sporting events have been held even when careful studies would have cleared revealed that the sporting events were heading for financial disasters.

In such cases, most event managers place poorly constructed and unrealistic budgets before them. The financial aspect in sporting events has been ignored mainly because the organizing teams assume that the events will be able to sponsor itself; especially from event ticketing. To sporting event managers, this should not the case for successful events at all.

Good infrastructure development

Infrastructure developments have proved to be the best exciting races against time nearly in all major sporting events (Freudensprung, 2008).

Before going ahead with their plans of hosting major sporting events, event managers have to develop most appealing infrastructure for them to be given event hosting rights. Legacies of developing unique infrastructures and initiating urban renewals have been legitimate objectives of most major sporting event bids.

Following on the above, event managers should therefore be tasked with overseeing the construction of major business and population centres and tourist areas to increase the chances of their events being successful.

When redeveloping the infrastructures in the various regions, event managers should consider making improvements on business resorts, business parks, hotels, housing, malls, venues and shops (Hans et al., 2002, pp. 303-319).

However, in critiquing the undertakings of most event managers on this factor, a latest research study by O’Toole (2011) highlighted that many had made mistakes of building new infrastructures and cities without understanding what participants need and want quality lifestyles (O’Toole, 2011, p.88).

In such circumstances, event managers are advised that re-developing infrastructure alone does not guarantee staging successful events but discussing the long-term infrastructure development strategy to assist the growth of events and create, what may be termed, as eventful cities (O’Toole, 2011, p.89).

An additional differing view on this was postulated by Bowdin and his group (2006).

This stated that in order to be able to manage sporting events efficiently and effectively, it is advised that event managers effectively liaise with local bodies and local communities to include developments in infrastructural areas such as transport, parking toilet provision, marshalling and safety of the improved structural facilities (Bowdin et al., 2006, p.366).

Ideally event managers are directed to consult the guidelines provided by various user group and sports bodies, for instance, Charity Fundraiser’s Institute. These bodies provide relevant source data for developing or improving sports infrastructure.

For instance if a sporting event has been associated with causing particular concerns, the event managers will be accordingly advised on the criteria to use to minimize the identified negative impacts (Humphreys & Howard, 2008, p.152).

To sum up the debate on this factor, the author derived the fact that it was important that event managers desist from carrying out haphazard infrastructure development. Instead, they should be encouraged to adopt long-term infrastructure development in this broad factor to win on the spectators’ dynamic preferences. This has come to be commonly referred to by a common business imperative as destination branding.

Risk or safety management

Pedersen and his group of scholars (2010) were of the view that this factor was relevant to event managers. This was so because it referred to the “the control of financial and personal injury loss from sudden, unforeseen, unusual accidents and intentional torts” (Pedersen et al., 2010, p.297).

From another perspective, risk management can be looked at as referring to the proactive efforts taken by a sport business to prevent loss-for instance financial loss due to a law suit or property damage, loss resulting from customers becoming unhappy with the event (loss of goodwill) and loss of market share (Masteralexis & Hums, 2008, p.300).

Event managers are required to initiate risk and safety measures to address the modern day challenges associated with sporting events. This is so because a study by Nohr, (2009) had revealed that current unstable world has exposed sporting events to the risks of terrorism, theft and fraud cases amongst others (p.54).

Some countries have established agencies to assist event managers to establish and protect participants from the many dangers that they are exposed to during their period of attending to the sports events (Vault, 2006). The USA, for example, has developed a Department of Home Security, to assist event managers to assess the vulnerability of sport and entertainment facilities to terrorist attacks.

Whether it’s a public or a private sporting event, event managers are required to establish event safety and protection measures to safeguard the participants. These measures can range from the provision of qualified first aid staff (use of St. John Ambulance or Red Cross is recommended), to the compilation of a comprehensive major incident or disaster plan (Bowdin et al., 2006, p.368).

From the above debated views, the author inferred that event managers are required to note that risk management does not just end with protecting their organizations from lawsuits, but protecting their organizations from the kind of risk or any wrong doing that could negatively impact on the customers’ perceptions on the specific event.

Competent “event steering” team

One of the most challenging tasks for event managers is establishing a competent “coalition” team to successfully steer the activities of the specific sporting event, whether the event is an exhibition, a festival, a street parade or a competition.

The competency aspect is enforced for the “bid steering team” since the chosen members are required to carry out the key roles of developing the event “vision”, conducting detailed job analysis for the “junior event steering team”, responding to the established constant changes ( especially in operational planning) and answering to the shifting communication needs.

This essay established that a critical debate had existed on the appropriate time of selecting the ‘steering’ team by event managers.

To start with, the author asserts that research has shown that successful event managers identify and hire event steering persons many months before the staging of the particular events (Black, 2004, p.200). This is the case because it is very important that each person in the “bid steering team” correctly understands his supervisory or management role in his/her temporary position (Haulihan & Green, 2011, p.446).

However, despite having supported the need to hire the steering team before the start of the event, Haulihan & Green (2011) went ahead to warn that it is important that event managers hire the steering team as early as in the bid steering stage for a temporary basis.

The team should then be disbanded if the period for the start of the events proves to be far away. This is in order to cut on the many expenses that are likely to be demanded by these experts.

Having reflected on the above views, the author derived a conclusion that though it is important to establish an event steering team many months before the start of the events, it is also important to consider the type of engagement contracts between the event managers and these hired experts.

Though the second study did recommend a termination of their services after winning of the bids, this study recommends that their continued presence should be extended as long as their services are still worthy and needed.

To avoid on their “excessive” salaries during the inactive stages of event staging, the author recommends that constructive discussions should be advanced between event managers and these steering team members to arrive at “affordable” figures.

Proper marketing or promotional strategies

Tellingly, sporting event managers are required to implement best and unique promotional strategies that capture and aid in availing event information to consumers. To achieve this, they can use promotional mixes. According to Schwarz and others (2010, p.163) promotional mixes include advertising, sponsorship, public relations and atmospherics.

To expound, this study established that a critical debate arose on the selection of the major promotional mix amongst the 4 that were identified above.

For instance whereas Schwartz and others (2010), stressed that advertising was the major communication process that event managers should use to relay event activities their consumers (p.164), Masteralexis (2011, p. 188) was of the view that sponsorship played a significant role of providing additional revenues, increasing awareness of the event on the target market, improving organization image, market share as well the sales share amongst other roles.

The author, being the moderator of this critical debate, points out that the 2 aspects are both endowed with rich benefits that can ensure success for their various sporting events and as such it would be irrelevant for the sporting event managers to rate them on their individual worthiness.


In a nutshell, the author re-states that this study had in the beginning sought to achieve 3 key objectives. These were to provide justifications for effective events management, to identify some of requisite management success factors as well as the supporting and opposing views on the specifications that need to be addressed in each of the identified factors.

To this point, the author highlights that the above were clearly achieved in the study. There is however need for future scholars to initiate research-based studies so as to achieve exhaustibility on this important event management topic. This is so because this essay had the limitation of being academically-oriented. As such, it was limited by the number of pages to be covered-namely 11.

Reference List

Black, R. (2004) Critical testing processes: Plan, prepare, perform, perfect. Boston: Addison-Wesley.

Bowdin, G. et al.,(2008) Events management. Oxford: Elsevier.

Clark, L.D. (2008) Local development benefits from staging global events. Australia: OECD Publishing.

Collins, C. & Trenberth, L. (2005) Sport business management in Aotearoa/ New Zealand. Melbourne: Cengage Learning.

Damster, G. et al., (2006) Event management: A professional and developmental approach. South Africa: Juta and Company Ltd.

Epstein, B.J. (2010) Wiley GAAP: Interpretation and application of generally accepted accounting principles 2011. 9th edn. New Jersey: John Wiley and Sons.

Fisher, R. & Patton, B. (1991) Getting to yes: Negotiating agreement without giving in. New York: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

Freudensprung, P. (2008) Bidding & sports tourism. SportConnect. Web.

Fried, G. (2009) Managing sports facilities. USA: Human Kinetics.

Getz, D. (2007) Theory, research and policy for planned events. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Hans, W. et al. (2002) Key success factors in bidding for hallmark sporting events. International Marketing Review 19(2), pp.303-319.

Humphreys, B.R. & Howard, D. (2008) The business of sports: Perspectives on the sports industry . USA: ABC-CLIO.

Liu, L. & Ottova-Leitmannova, A. (2008) Advances in planar lipid bilayers and liposomes. Oxford: Academic Press.

Masteralexis (2011) Principles and Practice of Sport Management. Canada: Jones & Bartlett Publishers.

Masteralexis, L.P. & Hums, M. A. (2008) Principles and practice of sport management. Ontario: Jones & Bartlett Learning.

Nico, S. (2010) The Roles and responsibilities of a change agent in sport event development projects. Sports Management Review, 13, pp. 2-4.

Nohr, K.M. (2009) Managing risk in sport and recreation: The essential guide for loss prevention. USA: Human Kinetics.

O’Toole, W. (2011) Events feasibility and development: From strategy to operations. Oxford: Elsevier.

Schwarz, E.C. et al. (2010) Sport facility operations management: A global perspective. Oxford: Butterworth-Heinemann.

Tonge, R. (2010) How to organise special events & festivals. Queensland, Australia: Gull Publishing.

UK Treasury Report (2007) Hosting the World Cup: Feasibility. London: Crown Publishers.

Vault (2006). The college buzz book. New York: Vault Inc.

Woods, R. (2007) Social issues in sports. USA: Human Kinetics.

Zimmermann, R. (2006) Event management in supply networks. Web.

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IvyPanda. 2019. "A Critical Debate on Key Management Success Factors for Various Sporting Events." July 9, 2019. https://ivypanda.com/essays/a-critical-debate-on-key-management-success-factors-for-various-sporting-events/.


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