Every year more youth sports organizations are created and additional programs are offered. According to the Aspen Institute's State of Play, nearly one fifth of youth sports organizations expanded their offerings from fall 2021 to fall 2022.
More programs are cultivating their online and social media presence to expand their reach into additional communities. This effort to reach a wider audience presents parents and athletes with more options than ever before.
This poses a new challenge for sports based programming, as they need to find ways to stand out from the competition.
One way to differentiate yourself is to create a mission statement for your organization. This will allow parents to understand your organization's key points and provide guidance for all current and future volunteers, coaches, and board members. Your mission statement is a written commitment to your brand and what your organization stands for.
What is a mission statement for sports?
A mission statement is a one or two sentence summary of your organization’s core values and goals. It acts as a guiding principle for all future decision-making when you start a nonprofit sports team.
How to write a sports mission statement
Now that you know the importance of a mission statement and what it should convey, the next task is to create one for your sports organization. This can be hard work, but the following steps will help guide you along the way:
1. Select your decision makers
Whether you’re in the beginning phases of forming your organization or are celebrating its 20th anniversary, select your organization’s key decision makers. This group could include the founders, athletic directors, current board members, or coaching staff.
It’s important to select the right amount of voices because too many decision makers can lead to major disagreements, but not enough can create an echo chamber. Make sure all your decision makers to have a strong connection to your organization. But allow for varying degrees of involvement as well as areas of concentration within the organization.
2. Determine who your organization serves
Once you have selected who will create the mission statement, you must determine who your organization serves. Some programs are categorized as recreational, meaning anyone can join, while others are more competitive, where only those selected participate.
Here are some guiding questions that you can ask yourselves:
- Is your organization serving an entire community regardless of age, gender, or athletic ability?
- Are you holding tryouts to only work with the best of the best?
- Is your organization focused on helping youth from select financial or social backgrounds?
- Do you offer more than one sport?
Some community programs cater to high school student athletes looking to advance their careers and join the NCAA, while others focus on younger athletes and their social development! Knowing your audience will help shape your message and accurately define your program’s goals and values.
3. State your organization’s objectives
Many parents enrolling their children in a program are doing it for the first time and are still closely evaluating different factors. One of those factors is what their children will get from participating in your organization. Defining your objective in your mission statement will be important to help them decide if it will be a good fit.
Your objective should state what participants will take away at the end of your season or program. For example, if you’re starting a youth football team, your objective could be to provide fundamental tackling, passing, and blocking skills to all participants. If a parent is searching for a program that focuses on the basics, then this helps showcase that your program is a good fit.
4. Choose one or two core values
The next step to creating your mission statement is to choose what values your organization follows and cares about.
A mission statement should guide leaders during the day-to-day operations of your program. It should be referenced often when making decisions to ensure that your organization sticks to the values you deem important.
An example of a core value your mission statement may have is being focused on participation for all. This could mean that your organization emphasizes everyone having even playing time regardless of results. On the other hand, it could mean that the cost to play is free, so low-income families can afford to participate.
5. Promote your mission statement
Now that you have your mission statement completed, share the news with everyone! An easy way to get the word out is to add your mission statement to your organization’s website, so all new visitors are aware of the change.
Let current athletes and their parents know about the change by posting it on your social media pages and sending out formal communications through email and text. By actively share your new messaging, you’re enforcing the values that your organization will adhere to.
Characteristics of a good mission statement
Mission statements vary depending on each organization, but all good ones share the same characteristics. Your mission statement should:
- Stand the test of time: Your mission statement should be created with longevity in mind. Think about what your organization should look like six months from now, a year from now, and five years from now. Does your statement still apply?
- Have an achievable goal for participants: Athletes participating in your programming should be able to set out and complete what is stated for them. The goal could be moving onto a specialized varsity team or even exhibiting good sportsmanship to competitors.
- Invoke action: Your mission statement isn’t something that you can set and forget. It requires deliberate actions to be taken to keep alignment.
- State your offerings: It should be obvious what your organization focuses on by just reading your mission statement. Include what sports you offer (volleyball, soccer, football, etc.) as well as who can participate.
- Be succinct: Summarizing everything your organization stands for can be challenging, but limit it to just a few sentences. This helps keep everyone on the right track and minimizes trying to achieve too many things.
- Create expectations: Anyone involved with your organization should know what to expect before participating. This will help keep your organization focused on your intended goals.
- Be a written commitment: When making decisions, you should refer back to your mission statement to ensure you're meeting the values and goals set for your organization. This requires follow-through and commitment.
Examples of good sports mission statements
Now that we’ve covered the basics of a sports mission statement, let’s take a look at some familiar organizations to see what they’re saying:
Little League’s mission statement: Little League believes in the power of youth baseball and softball to teach life lessons that build stronger individuals and communities.
This follows the characteristics of a good mission statement, such as being succinct, stating their offerings, and creating expectations. Parents who enroll their children in Little League programs will get a sense that teamwork will be a large part of the organization’s goals.
The National Alliance for Youth Sports
The National Alliance for Youth Sports’ mission statement: To educate, equip and empower youth sports leaders, volunteers and parents so all children can enjoy the lifelong benefits of sports.
This mission statement evokes action in the leaders of NAYS to continue to invest in programming, certifications, or other resources for all involved. It also includes one of their core values which is that all children have access to a positive sports experience.
Good Sports' mission statement: To give all kids the lifelong benefits of sport and physical activity by providing equipment, apparel and footwear to those most in need.
This is a non-profit organization, so while they don’t work directly with children, they fund youth sports organizations. This statement evokes actions as well as states what they do to achieve this goal.
VIDEO: 5 Steps to Write a Sports Mission Statement for Your League
Create your mission statement today
Having a mission statement is imperative for the wellbeing of your organization, especially if you're writing a new youth sports business plan. It will guide decisions, reinforce your brand and help new leadership understand your organization's core values.
If you’re just starting a new organization or looking to revamp what you currently do, the team at Jersey Watch is here to help. We can help create an online resource for your athletic team, help you communicate efficiently with parents and register more players.