Even though sports continue to be an important part of high school life, school budgets continue to suffer. Participation in athletics contributes to the development of important real-world skills including self-confidence and self-esteem, dedication, time management, fitness and even improved performance in school. As schools try to balance the budget with the global needs of the school district, it is easy to pull finances from the athletics department. In order to maintain programs and participation, it may be time for high schools to look at alternative methods of generating revenue, including sponsorships.
Sponsorship of events is a common marketing strategy for many institutions of higher learning, community based programs and professional sports. The same concepts that garner support and revenue for those programs can be done at the high school level. Recent research out of Indiana can help programs identify and cultivate potential sponsors.
At the high school level, sponsorship of athletics occurs across all domains: large and small schools, urban and rural communities and by local and non-local businesses. There are many varieties for potential sponsorships, as well. Possibilities include banners on the walls, scoreboard and press area, along with logos and ads in the programs, ticket stubs, concession stand and venue identification. While these offer a variety of opportunity, they are not exhaustive.
The type, and amount, of sponsorships may vary, but what they all have in common is the desire to partner with the schools. Local businesses are interested in forming partnerships to generate community good will, while larger businesses are looking to attract new business. For both cases, the school is the winner. The school has a readily available gold mine for potential sponsorship at its fingers that it can use to create relationships with the businesses in the community and the broader geographic area. The two industries with the highest level of total sponsorship are professional organizations (physician practices, insurance companies, hospitals, lawyers, etc) and food and beverage companies (restaurants, fast food, beverage distributers, etc). Other businesses are also interested in available sponsorship opportunities, so school administrators are encouraged to reach out to many different businesses to gauge their interest.
At higher levels of sponsorship, the most prominent forms are facility and field naming rights. Not every school is willing to enter into naming rights deals with their community, but other options exist including game sponsorships, field sponsorships, tournament sponsorship and department sponsorships.
As school budgets continue to struggle and athletics budgets are continuously analyzed under a microscope, there is hope that additional funding is available if a school makes a priority of developing additional revenue streams. The identification of businesses willing to sponsor the school provides additional funding to the athletics programs and enhanced good will and business visibility in a win-win relationship.
Pierce, D. and Petersen, J. (2011). Corporate sponsorship activation analysis in interscholastic athletics. Journal of Sponsorship 4(3), 272-286.
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