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Five ways to modernize your tournament

By SportsEngine, 04/10/15, 5:45PM CDT


Learn easy, effective strategies to attract a bigger (more web savvy) audience

Awesome Fan Photos

Now that almost everyone has a smartphone and at least one social media account, it seems we’ve all become amateur photographers (even if we’re just taking “selfies” or pics of our dinner).

Take advantage of that newfound interest in photography, and enlist your tournament fans as memory-makers. With a few free tools and some fun direction, it’s pretty simple.


Before and during your event, give a shout out to fans that you’re interested to see the photos they snap during your tournament. Make it a game by offering categories or promising to post the best of photos during and after the event. Let your fans know you’ll be posting the best snapshots to your website, Facebook page, Pinterest board, or another sharing site you choose.

Consider these photo categories:

• Photos of the day         • Top event photos

• Top fan photos             • Epic team photos

• Impossible scores         • Candid athlete moments

• Funny fan moments      • Memories from around town


Give fans a simple process to whip out their cell phone, snap a pic, style it, and hashtag it. Instagram is a popular free app available for iPhone and Android that many fans will already have.

If you don’t have it, it’s worth a download. With Instagram (or another app like it), your fans can style their photos and upload them with a hashtag that you advertise. Use a memorable hashtag like #tournamentname. Photos from your tournament will be grouped under your hashtag and easy to find. Now you can simply choose the best of the best, and post them to your website.

Bonus: Now you have a ton of photos for advertising your tournament the next year!

Appify Your Tournament

Ever have a tournament game go into overtime and throw off later games? Yup. Ever had Mother Nature interrupt your tournament with rain showers? Grrrr. Have you ever tried stuffing a computer in your jeans? Of course not. Wouldn’t it be nice to be able to get tournament information to your fans, teams and volunteers instantly and anywhere? Yes!

Apart from an amazing website, your tournament deserves a mobile app. Frankly, your fans probably expect you’ll have an app to download. Unlike websites, apps can instantly push information to users no matter where they are (and they fit neatly in pockets). If there’s a game delay or Mother Nature meddles with game play, push a message out via your app. Fans and athletes will be happy when they have time to adjust their plans.

From a tournament management standpoint, a mobile app is a great replacement for running game sheets around your facility. Finally, you don’t need to rely on folks in running shoes to run scores on pieces of paper to a scorekeeper sitting in an office somewhere. Or worse, people calling at all hours of the night to update scores while fans complain that final scores aren’t posted on your website. A well-designed mobile app will allow admins to enter scores directly from the game so they’re instantly updated and available for fans to see.

Live Blogging

Recently, out-of-state grandparents, Bob and Kathy, wrote “Thank you so much for sharing our grandson’s game (Casper WY vs Chicago IL). We even got to see him score against Chicago! It was a nail biter!” At the same time, John, an in-town father in a wheelchair, wrote “I’m disabled and have two sons playing. While I can get out to watch sometimes, it takes a toll on me. Thanks for giving me a way to watch from home!” These are a couple of real comments (out of hundreds) from tournaments that do a great job extending their reach.

Parents who have to work, friends from far away, and even relatives serving our country overseas want a way to see their friends and family at your tournament. Beyond live scoring on your mobile app, consider offering a live “play-by-play” blog on your website. Unlike Facebook or Twitter, you can control photos and commentary on your blog. Add photos and words that really capture the tournament experience and show off athletes at their best.


Leading up to your tournament, pre-promote that you’ll be offering candid photos and commentary throughout the events. Definitely mention it on your website with a link to where you’ll be posting, but also create a Facebook public event so you can invite your followers (who in turn can invite their friends and family).


Keep your live blog on your website for the rest of the year. Check out the memories created during the NCHC Frozen Faceoff Live. Like this live blog (that isn’t so “live” anymore), your tournament blog should capture the essence of your event.

Think about turning the camera away from game play from time to time to focus on fans, volunteers, the vibe around your facility and other memorable moments.

Social Stream

In a world becoming increasingly virtual, your tournament is a real-life event that brings people together, encourages friendship, creates smiles, and reminds us how satisfying it is to gather with a good group of people in the spirit of competition.

This is the spirit of your tournament. You’re creating a vibe that athletes and families want to share with each other whether at the event or back at home. 

Unlike your social media streams or your blog posts where you are in charge of the message, you should consider offering a social stream your participants and their families can use. Social streams are a closed social network that allow you to moderate posts before they go live. Because you are making sure content is always appropriate for your audience, you can allow people to post anonymously. Young children should be encouraged to post anonymously so their identities stay private.

With a social stream that you control, you offer your tournament participants and their extended family and friends the ability to post photos, videos and comments that capture the spirit of your event. Your social stream should open weeks before your event as excitement grows and teams prepare to travel. Then, your social stream can continue weeks or months after your tournament to give people a chance to upload their photos and to relive their favorite memories.

Your Tournament & Social Media

As your tournament grows and achieves success, inevitably it’ll gain more exposure on mainstream social media sites such as Twitter and Facebook. That’s fantastic! At the same time, you should be deliberate about how you approach the larger social media community.


Your tournament is a big plus for the community as folks from out of town visit, eat in local restaurants and shop in local businesses. Along with the positive aspects are a few negatives, like increased road congestion, lack of parking, and maybe even a few bad interactions between attendees and the community. 

As you engage followers on social media, be aware that the surrounding community is watching and reading as well. Please remember to always acknowledge your host community and your neighbors. They provide the backdrop to your successful tournament.


For all your good intentions and intense preparations, unfortunately there will always be a few tournament attendees or community members that find a reason to lash out negatively on Facebook, Twitter or other social forums. Social media is a beast that can’t always be contained, but you should be prepared to take steps to tamp down negativity when it happens.

If someone complains about your tournament on a social site, here are a few steps to go through to try and minimize the effect.

• Quickly acknowledge. Many times people just
need to know you’re available to give them a
chance to talk. Sometimes acknowledging a
person can completely diffuse an issue.
• See the point. Make sure not to dismiss a person’s
personal point of view. What they’re saying is
important to them even if it may be a minor issue
for you or your tournament.
• Move the conversation. Once engaged, request to
help out personally via email, private chat, or over
the phone (whichever is convenient and gets the
negativity out of the public view).
• Say “sorry.” This is a powerful, underused word.
You’d be surprised how saying “sorry” can
change the tone of a complainer as well as those
watching/reading the conversation.
• Don’t feed the negativity. In the end, some
grumpy people are just online itching for a fight.
When nothing works, state the truth so there is a
record for everyone else, but do not continue to
engage a person who won’t be reasonable.

SportsEngine Tourney Mobile


Tournament managers tell us they are constantly looking for ways to
make their events more engaging and interactive for participants, for ways to communicate with everyone and for ways to generate more money. Tourney Mobile helps you with all of these and then some.

For more personalized tournament planning, please contact your
Sport Ngin territory manager at 888.379.1035.

About SportsEngine

SportsEngine was created to help people simplify their sports life. Now, we're making it easier than ever for parents and athletes to find the right sport and the right organization for them.