Sports Law • Risk Management

June 11, 2011: Considerations for a Growing Event: Part I

You have started an event, which has become quite popular. In fact, your event is so successful that participants are registering earlier than ever before and the event is quickly filling up to its maximum capacity. Does this sound like an event you have created? As an event grows, there are additional considerations that must be entertained by an event director.

First, look to increase the amount and type of insurance coverage for your event. More people equates to more risk and more liability. It might be time to increase the amount of liability and sport accident coverage you have in place. Particularly if you have added new elements to the entertainment aspect of your event, check with your insurance broker to ensure that all aspects of your event will be covered sufficiently.

Second, ensure your system to collect signed participant waivers is both thorough and organized. If you have an online registration system, an online collection of waivers may be best. For all online waiver collection, be sure you keep data files of the exact waiver language that was agreed to for that year’s event and be able to access each individual’s online agreement to the waiver language. However, if you allow paper registration, create a system, which ensures that all athletes sign a waiver and that can easily be retrieved in the event of a lawsuit. Always check with an attorney regarding waiver language and procedures for collecting and storing athlete signatures to the waiver.

Third, plan for good weather. Good weather leads to an increased number of spectators at the event, a higher attendance of pre-registered competitors, and overall more traffic. Along with more people in good weather, you may need to more security to ensure a safe and fair event. Good weather could also contribute to an increased likelihood of dehydration of both spectators and participants. Thus be sure to have plenty of fluids and ice on hand and more medical professionals accessible for the increased number of attendees.

Fourth, plan for bad weather. Bad weather, such as rain or snow, could mean more injuries from falls on slippery road manholes or grates, blisters or sores from running in wet shoes, or cold muscles getting strained. An increased number of medical professionals should be available to tend to injuries associated with bad weather conditions. As an event director, you should also have an emergency plan in the event of lightning or other extreme weather, which may require an event delay or even evacuation of the premises. Be prepared to quickly communicate any changes in the event with personnel, athletes and spectators. With a larger event, a race director will have increased difficulty in quickly responding to bad weather.

Despite the type of event, the above suggestions should be considered for any growing event. As an event director, plan for the increased likelihood of risk that are part of any successful event.