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NextUp 2022

How Youth Sports Sponsorships and Partnerships Will Help Your Organization Grow

By Melissa Wickes
August 8, 2023
3 min

Amazing youth sports organizations can’t grow alone—and that’s why we turn to youth sports sponsorships and partnerships to help us maximize our full potential. Mark Yosowitz, VP of Corporate Business and Legal Affairs at LeagueApps, co-founded a company that grew to one of the industry’s largest in the country—but that would not have been possible without the 250 unique partner relationships they had built.

Now, he helps LeagueApps create, manage, and nurture these types of relationships. He sat down with a panel of leaders in youth sports sponsorships and partnerships at last year’s NextUp Youth Sports Management Conference to help your organization do the same. Here are the highlights.

Keys to Discovering Good Partnerships

Solve Problems

A youth sports partnership is a give to get relationship, says Lisa Delpy Neirotti, Professor of Sports Management at George Washington University. When seeking out new partnerships, think about what the company needs and how you can help them solve that problem. Then, provide them with data to back up how you’ll be helpful. Remember: It’s a business opportunity for them just as much as it is for you. The partnerships that last are the ones where both sides get something out of the equation. 

Know Your Audience

McLean Youth Soccer sponsors almost all of their inventory, and Louise Waxler, Executive Director, has learned that youth sports is a people business just as much as it’s a sports business. With that said, you have to know your audience and continue to knock on doors that will benefit your customers in the long run.

How Larger Organizations Can Select the Right Partnerships

Ripken Baseball is one of the most impressive names in youth sports—and they have a list of amazing sponsors that have helped them get there. But even when you have potential sponsors reaching out to you for opportunities, you should still be evaluating if they’re the right fit. Amanda Shank, VP of Business Development for Ripken Baseball, evaluates potential sponsors based on three pieces of criteria:

  • Will it drive revenue for our organization?
  • Will the partnership add to the player/ family experience?
  • Does it eliminate a point of friction?

Ripken’s best partnerships check at least two, ideally three of these boxes. For example, Gatorade is one of Ripken’s largest sponsors—and they provide coolers, towels, and products in all of their dugouts. As an organization that aims to provide a “big league experience” to the players, this is a great value-add. 

NationalSportsID is an age verification partnership that eliminates a point of friction for Ripken: age challenges on the field. 

How Smaller Organizations Can Select the Right Partnerships

While it’s nice to receive a large check, it’s not the only way a partnership will be valuable to your organization. Craig McGinn, Director of Strategic Customer Partnerships at LeagueApps, points out that a partnership can serve to eliminate expenses for a smaller organization. What’s more, a partnership that eliminates a $5,000 cost for your organization may only cost the sponsor $2,000—so they may be able to make a sizable contribution to you without killing their budget.

Ask how you can add value to an organization without a big fat check and then build longevity—a partnership that will last when the check runs out. 

Youth Sports Partnerships vs Competition

The industry is a special one, and while we’re all wanting to lift one another up, ultimately there is competition between organizations. The good news is, organizations can team up for sponsorships and partnerships where it makes sense.

McLean operates in an area that is heavily saturated with youth sports organizations—so they chose to build a club alliance with Springfield Youth Sports Association at the Elite Level in order to strengthen both clubs. It required rebranding, financial considerations, and contracts, but ultimately made both clubs better.

Learn More About Youth Sports Sponsorships & Partnerships

NextUp is the only conference that provides an opportunity for organizers and coaches to learn about and discuss the most important topics in youth sports today. The conference returns to NYC in October—and you can get $100 off your registration by registering now through August 15. Click here for more information!

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