Promotion: Organize a Spectators' Clinic for Increased Fan Support

Promotion: Organize a Spectators' Clinic for Increased Fan Support

Dick Moss, Editor, Physical Education

Sports clinics, in which young athletes are exposed to your program's coaching techniques, are excellent ways to increase interest in your program among young prospects.

However, you can also use such clinics to boost attendance at your games among parents and prospective fans.

Fan Clinics: The Concept
Spectator clinics can be run as part of a halftime show or as a separate function. The idea is to explain some of the basic techniques, strategies, tactics and tricks used in your sport. This will give participants a better appreciation of the sport and hopefully turn them into fans. After all, who wants to sit through a contest they don't understand.

Spectator clinics also allow participants to get to know your squad members, improving the likelihood that they will identify with your team.

How to Organize
Your first task will be to attract participants to the clinic. Begin by sending written or e-mail invitations to parents, and by advertising in the local media or within your school.

You can offer inducements to participate. For example, free refreshments or draw prizes. If you can get local businesses to contribute a dinner, theater tickets or sports equipment, that's great. You could also give away a free seasons pass, T-shirts or team jackets.

Use team members and coaches to explain interesting elements of your sport and answer questions posed by clinic participants. You can also involve participants in technique demonstrations (although I've avoid using them to demonstrate forearm shivers or crack-back blocking).

Spectator clinics work well with schools programs, but have also been used in professional settings. One example is the Winnipeg Blue Bombers of the Canadian Football League.

The Bombers have held fan clinics in which fans have the opportunity to ask coaches and players questions and learn plays from their playbook. They also learn techniques directly from players such as how the quarterback calls plays, defensive-end techniques, etc. The Bombers have used regular clinics as a continuing part of their marketing and public relations plan.

In the case of your school program, such clinics will improve attendance at your games, but they will also develop an appreciation for your athletic and physical education programs. That appreciation may pay dividends the next time the subject of budget cuts for athletics and PE programs arise.

Dick Moss, Editor, PE

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