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David Pierce, Geoffre Sherman, Kyle Mechelin, and Bryan Kryder

Youth sports is facing a crisis that threatens the ecosystem of youth sports. Innovation—the ability to generate and execute new ideas—is needed to stem the negative tide of a declining and aging officiating pool and improve the recruitment and retention of sports officials. Without creative problem solving and innovation by many different stakeholders in youth sports, the benefits that children receive from participating in sports are threatened by the lack of qualified officials to referee competitive games and matches. This case pushes students well past the news headlines of angry parents yelling at officials and deep into several problem spaces that emerge from the application of design thinking. Students are introduced to design thinking and prompted to innovate solutions to problems framed using the design thinking process. Students can select a preidentified problem space, then work through an ideation session facilitated by the instructor.

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Kerri Bodin, Georgia Teare, Jordan T. Bakhsh, and Marijke Taks

Youth sport participation preferences are evolving and shifting toward unorganized, nontraditional types of sport participation. This trend has left more traditional sports with decreasing participation numbers. Baseball Canada noticed a similar trend and therefore implemented an innovative approach to increase interest and participation in baseball. This case study follows Alex, the Manager of Sport Development at Baseball Canada, as they develop and evaluate Baseball5, an innovative street version of the traditional sport of baseball. This alternative form of baseball needs to be tested and evaluated in five pilot programs throughout Canada. Alex collects survey, interview, and focus group data following each of the pilot programs to determine whether the approach is viable for increasing interest in baseball long term. After reading the case, students are tasked with analyzing the collected data and designing the Baseball5 program for long-term implementation. The case is ideal for upper year undergraduate students who have the skills and knowledge necessary to execute program evaluations and build holistic program implementation plans, and for undergraduate courses in research methods or data analysis.

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Nathan Baer, Claire C. Zvosec, Brent D. Oja, and Minjung Kim

Ben Davis has recently been hired to take over as the president of business operations for Major League Baseball’s newest expansion club, the Nashville Comets. He is faced with a challenging task: filling out the rest of his senior management staff. Ben knows he needs to meet certain initiatives set by the ownership group. Of these, the most important is that the ownership team wants to build an organization that will set itself apart in the crowded Nashville entertainment market, allowing it to flourish in the long term. While consulting with some of his industry colleagues, Ben has honed in on innovation, job crafting, and meaningful work as a means of doing so. Ben is seeking to develop an organization that inspires innovation in its employees, maximizing his staff as a resource for change. Using concepts like meaningful work and job crafting, students will be tasked with assisting Ben in fleshing out the Comets’ front office in a way that fosters creativity and innovation among their employees, contributing to the success of the organization.

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Brody J. Ruihley and Heidi Grappendorf

Fantasy Sports Collection, Inc. (FSC) is a fantasy sport organization offering fantasy play since 2005. Having plateaued in consumer growth, FSC is faced with difficult financial decisions. In a brainstorming session regarding new initiatives, Molly Brinkmeyer suggested an idea to purposefully market to and recruit more women to preestablished offerings. Molly’s reasons driving this idea were the fact that only 14% of their consumers were women and, after an evaluation of FSC’s marketing campaigns, employees of FSC quickly saw that advertisements were overtly produced for men. FSC’s management team felt that this was an idea worth pursuing. They charged Molly with acquiring information about women’s fantasy sport participation and gave her a 3-week window to learn more and report back. She found that women’s top perceptions of the activity were that: (a) the activity was time consuming; (b) the activity required research, surveillance, and information; (c) they had no interest or understanding of it; (d) they felt the activity was too competitive; (e) they thought it wasn’t real; and (f) they still had a positive opinion of fantasy sport. With this new information, marketing decisions could now be made to address existing concerns by women regarding fantasy sport participation.

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Mitchell McSweeney, Per G. Svensson, and Michael L. Naraine

The case explores how Sport4Change will adapt its sport-for-development (SFD) programs in response to the current uncertainty presented by COVID-19. Being able to innovate program operations, implementation, and delivery is key to the success and long-term sustainability of Sport4Change, and changing program strategies needs to be done correctly given the organization’s varying locations around the world. Making such decisions requires consideration of the various contexts in which Sport4Change works, understanding diverse options to implement SFD through technological or remote means, and aligning remote delivery and operations with each SFD location and their in-person program focus and goals in order to come up with solutions to ensure SFD remains impactful during COVID-19.

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Anya T. Eicher, James E. Johnson, Phoebe Campbell, and Benjamin J. Downs

As the commercialization of intercollegiate sport continues to grow, it is critical to understand how transitioning away from college athletics may impact student-athletes. Sport administrators, coaches, academic support personnel, and players should be aware of how athletic identity, unpreparedness, and a lack of social connection can drastically impact student-athletes postsport. Understanding the adjustment issues associated with transition away from sport is crucial in developing policies and support services to effectively help struggling student-athletes. Sport management students are particularly important in the transition because they will be at the forefront of programming efforts. In addition, sport management students need to be exposed to the issue of athlete identity and adjustment in order to act in the best interests of student-athletes. The discussion questions provide an opportunity for sport management students to critically evaluate these issues from a multitude of perspectives.

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Clinton Warren

This case study asks students to assume the role of a ticket sales strategist hired to work as a consultant for the University of Minnesota Golden Gopher athletic department. In this case, you will be asked to work with members of the Gopher Fan Advisory Board to develop service innovations in the area of ticket sales. As a sales and marketing consultant, you will examine existing data on spectator attendance trends and focus group interviews to determine the current issues facing the athletic department. Then, you will be asked to suggest the manners by which the athletic department should innovate the ticket service, using a design thinking approach to grow ticket sales and spectator attendance for the men’s hockey program.

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Lucy V. Piggott and Jordan J.K. Matthews

Within this article, the authors explore the extent to which the administrative and governance hierarchies, rules, and processes of two English national governing bodies (NGBs) reproduce or resist gender segregation and male dominance within their leadership and governance. Drawing on Bourdieu’s theory of practice, the authors expand upon current literature to better understand the workings of gender power relations at the structural level of organizational practice. Semistructured interviews with male and female leaders were supplemented by an analysis of formal documents. The authors found that gender power relations privileging men were simultaneously conserved and resisted within the two NGBs. While resistance to male-dominated leadership and governance was evident, transformational organizational change was lacking. This highlighted the limitations of strategies being primarily driven through top-down, policy-based approaches. The authors end the article by emphasizing the importance of a combined approach at the structural, cultural, and individual levels to enable sustainable and transformational organizational change.

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Christine E. Wegner, Bradley J. Baker, and Gareth J. Jones

Volunteers provide essential services to community sport organizations; thus, it is important to understand the underlying factors in successful volunteer–organization relationships. Organizational identification, an integral component of relationship building for members in an organization, is a useful yet underutilized concept to understand how and why volunteers create lasting, deep relationships with sport organizations. This research utilizes a sequential mixed-method design to examine the evolution of organizational identification among volunteers in a community sport organization. The survey results indicate that new volunteers formed their organizational identification over the course of a single program season, such that, by the end of the season, they were similar to returners. Subsequent qualitative analysis of focus group data indicated that the content and evolution of organizational identities varied for newcomers and returners. These results provide important contributions related to the ongoing nature of identity work of volunteers and offer practical implications for volunteer management within community sport organizations.