Listeners to the latest Sports ETA webinar were told that they should forgot about spending time on a five-year plan during the COVID-19 pandemic and instead focus on the intrinsic values that they bring to the areas they work and live in.

Dale Neuburger and Michelle Perry of BCW Sports Practice – North America said the key concepts for sports-event professionals going forward would be agility, empathy, problem solving and inclusiveness during the webinar, entitled “The New Sports Organization Paradigm.”

“If anything over the last 60 days, we’ve found our ability to predict the future is very limited,” Neuburger said. “Anything we thought we knew with any degree of certainty, those elements have gone by the wayside. The good old days are not coming back, and there will be lasting impacts of COVID-19.”

Neuburger and Perry said instead of focusing on plans that go out years in advance, sports organizations should be looking at planning in phases toward the full reopening of events at whatever point that is deemed permissible by health organizations. Reshaping the organization from one that is laser-focused on hotel room nights into one that wants to tell a more personal story for their community is also important.

“There’s no playbook or road map for what we’re experiencing,” Perry said. “That can be overwhelming. Being able to be nimble and pivot into a new direction incredibly quickly is very important.”

The panelists used several examples of how to adjust and adapt during this time of uncertainty. Perry pointed to the planning and communication toward an eventual return to play that has been done by the NCAA’s medical task force and the National Athletic Trainers Association, while recognizing the work Visit Dallas has done to work on providing information on sanitation initiatives for its venues. Neuburger praised the work done by organizations such as the Chicago Sports Commission, Visit Wichita and the Harris County—Houston Sports Authority on communicating work its teams and organizations in their areas have done to serve citizens.

“This is what sports does,” Neuburger said. “If you can go about doing something that heals the community, you’ll be remembered for a long time and valued as a result.”