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Youth sports aren’t funded by gate returns, food and concession sales and multi-million dollar TV packages like professional sports are: they’re funded by you, the parents of the children comprising the team.
You’re on the hook for just about everything in some form — from team- and league-participation fees to uniforms to equipment to paying the officials. It goes without saying that some sports are more expensive than others, but in general, parents can expect to pay more as the child gets older and more involved in sports.
Needless to say, the financial responsibilities of being a sports parent can certainly take a toll not just in time spent getting them to games and practices but also in “paying to play.” With that said, it’s not uncommon for many teams to attempt to secure sponsorships from area businesses or organizations to help lessen the financial burden on the parents.
Here’s a look at some tips to securing youth sports sponsorships:
Think of the ROI: Chances are, any interested entity isn’t going to sponsor your child’s team just for the heck of it. They’ll want to see some return on investment (ROI). So brainstorm ways to give this to them.
For instance, perhaps their sponsorship will mean they’ll have an advertisement on the uniforms. Maybe it can be arranged that parents put bumper stickers or window magnets promoting the business on their cars. Or you could go as far as naming the team after a business. For example, there are various levels of youth hockey teams based out of Michigan named “Belle Tire Hockey Club” to honor the tire business that sponsors the teams. Think of other sponsorship benefits from the perspective of the advertiser, such as how many people they can expect to reach with their brand each game.
Do your homework: There are probably various businesses in your community with a track record of sponsoring youth sports teams. Research who these entities are and make them among the first people you call. While these businesses may be in the minority in your area, there are business owners that will donate sponsorship money to youth sports teams as a means of giving back to the community (as well as generating positive publicity for themselves).
Look for an “in”: Sometimes, the best sponsors are the companies that parents on the team may work for, and these are ideal businesses to ask. For starters, you already have an “in” with them if a parent on the team works for the company and is in good standing. A lot of business is established through relationships. The same can be said about sponsorships.
Take the team with you: It can be easy for a business owner to say “no” to you, the parent. But it can be a lot more difficult to look into the eyes of a handful of young, enthusiastic and eager athletes and do the same thing when you’re trying to secure a sponsorship. Let a potential sponsor meet and interact with the team. It may help sway them to say “yes.”
Look for new businesses: New businesses in town are ideal sponsorship candidates. Not only are these businesses looking to establish themselves with advertising and promotions, but they’re also likely hoping to generate some positive word of mouth, too. What better way to do that than by sponsoring a youth sports team? Check with your local chamber of commerce or economic development organization in your city to see what businesses are coming to town soon and start reaching out to form a relationship.
While securing youth sports sponsorships can be a challenge, it’s not an impossible feat. Plus, the financial relief parents can experience as the result of a sponsorship can go a long way toward enjoying watching their kids play the game that much more.
Brandon Capaletti is the Vice President of Cisco Athletic, an athletic apparel manufacturer based in Maryland. Cisco Athletic designs, produces and distributes custom uniforms for 18 different sports, including baseball, basketball, softball, and soccer.