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The 7Es for community sport in the new world

A checklist that will help you focus on the key issues that will enable you to develop the best culture and environment to attract and retain people, partners, volunteers, and sponsors

Ethics, Experiences, Environment, Economy, Equality, Engagements and Enterprise

Many community sport and physical activity providers and centres are working hard to re-open after the easing of lockdowns across the world and doing brilliant work to bring their places and centres in line with various Government guidelines.

We appreciate the pressure that they face in terms of financial pressure and urgent issues, but we also fear that some will just want to go back to the way things and miss out on a big opportunity to reset their services, operations and delivery.

We strongly recommend that you set up a fast-working Project Kickstart Project Group with the remit to evaluate your enterprise, using the 7Es below as a checklist and guide.

Members of the Sports Marketing Network’s premium service, Sports Enterprise Network will also receive a more in-depth guide to the 7Es and have access to a 30-minute Zoom call to discuss and get advice on their own future.

Svend Elkjaer, Director, Sports Marketing Network will go through the 7Es in more detail during Wednesday’s webinar on the future of the sports club, leisure trust and centre in the new normal world.  To book your place click here

1. Ensuring Ethical  behaviour throughout your place
Recently, the number of reports of ethical behaviour by coaches in community sports coaches has been growing.  From many countries and covering several sports these complaints of bullying and intimidation by coaches from these young aspiring athletes are harrowing, to say the least. Even worse, their complaints have mostly been rejected by their clubs and governing bodies and then the external reviews often found significant shortcomings.
I was once at a meeting with a group of coaches in a junior community football club where the bullying behaviour of two of the coaches (not present) was discussed and the general attitude amongst these, generally good guys, was “that there really isn’t much we can do”, so nothing was changed. Sad! 

Healthy competition is a means of cultivating personal honour, virtue and character. That the goal in sportsmanship is not simply to win but to pursue victory with honour by giving one’s best effort. You can still practice ‘ethical elite sport’ with no bullying nor undue pressure.

Is there a healthy ethics environment at your place? Do players/athletes go home with a smile feeling that they have had a great time, learnt a lot and that they can’t wait to come back?

Ethics is also important when it comes to many other aspects of running your enterprise and we can only strongly recommend that you seriously consider how to ensure that you have strong ethical culture throughout your club/centre.

Remember, it is easier to develop the right ethical culture than having to clean up the mess if you have a bad culture.

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2. Providing the right Experiences for different people
We are all different. Some are happy going for a social run in the woods, whereas others are focusing on improving their 800-metre Personal Best time. Some want just to kick a ball around, whereas others want to win the league.  All that is fair enough. We are all different. Let’s celebrate that.

So, you can’t be all thing to all people. You can’t both be a McDonald’s and 3-star Michelin restaurant, at the same time.

Most elite academies are quite clear that they focus on developing talent, whereas social walking groups celebrate companionship and fresh air. 

The challenge comes when there is no agreement within a club or group what kind of experiences they want to provide and who they want to serve.  Some coaches may want to win and others want to give people fun. 

It is imperative that work out who want to serve and what kind of experiences you want to provide.

3. Environmental impact and ecological footprint
An increasing number of major stadia and larger sports events organisers have become concerned with reducing the ecological footprint and efforts have been made to organize sustainable events, i.e. events which produce as much energy as they consume through measures such as the use of less carbon-intensive technology and installing solar panels in the stadiums. 
But community sport and physical activity must also now begin to play our role in protecting our planet. Also, if you want to attract younger people being climate-friendly is now a definite must.
And it doesn’t have to be a massive revolution. You can start with only serving organic or locally grown food and drink, start an organic garden next to the clubhouse, give 10% discounts to people who arrive on bike or foot, etc.  Then tell your community and members about your ethos and see the praise coming in…
4. Promoting Equality and diversity
Also, this area has seen an increasing focus on the lack of equality in diversity in many sporting organisations across the world. We must change the culture of sport to one that values diversity and enables the full involvement of disadvantaged groups in every aspect of sport.

I have personally seen clubs become much better places as they become more welcoming to everyone, regardless of background etc. It brings new people, skills and income to your place and everybody become more aware and knowledgeable of each other’s worlds, which breaks down barriers

For our young people diversity and equality is now a given
But, don’t expect this all to happen, as if by magic.  You must work on this internally and also start engaging with leaders and connectors across different ethnic, disability, geographical and gender groups and you will have to be committed to the course.
This is a Marathon, not a sprint.
5.. Engage with your audience on their terms, using their channels and their language
During the lockdown, we have seen a massive change in the way we communicate and, importantly, the older generation is increasingly becoming digitally-savvy (we Skype with my 78-year old mother-in-law in Denmark every day)
What is also important is to involve people from different groups and ages and use them to engage with their peers (who is best at producing TikTok videos aimed at 15-year old girls, yes, a 15-year old girl. Who is best at communicating with Indian women in their forties, yes…) Another reason why equality and diversity are so important.

This all means that you need to adapt the way you manage your place with a more decentralised structure and allowing people freedom. At the same time, this also means that you communicate and ‘live’ your organisation’s culture across to everyone.

6. Develop an Enterprising culture and skillset 
At SMN we encounter many great, enterprising people in community sport on a very regular basis.
Many of them succeed outside the established ‘sporting landscape’ and do not wait for a policy or edict coming down from on high.  They go out there and develop some great community and sporting events and raise money (often very impressive amounts) in the process.

Just look at Tony Carlisle whose Doggie Walk in South Shields has raised £3.2m over 15 years; the guys at Blaydon Rugby Club who generate £90,000 every year from their weekly car boot sale; Mandy Young and her incredibly successful indoor skateboard and BMX centre, Adrenaline Alley in Corby; Simon Plumb and his great panto which raises £20,000+ every year at Lymm Rugby Club; the great people at St Michael’s Hospice in Harrogate who generate £150,000 every year from their Midnight Walk.

Or Melissa Anderson and her great team at Valleys Gymnastics Academy in Wales who run Zoom classes for families, Family Fit Fun and online birthday parties engaging digitally with 2500 of their normal 3000 members.

These people just went out there and ‘seized the day’, and did not come up with plenty of reasons ‘why it would not work here’.  You could and should do the same, wherever you are.  
When you fail, learn from it. When you succeed, learn from it
7. Make sure that you have a grasp on your Economy
There are five posts you need to know, without even checking:
  1. The number of members/users now, compared to same last year
  2. Your turnover compared to last year and budget
  3. How much money does your place have in the bank?
  4. How much money do you owe?
  5. How much money are you owed?
    Yes, it’s that simple
Good luck with progressing with the 7ES. If you need a hand, please get in touch