The passing of basketball icon Kobe Bryant at the beginning of 2020 was devastating for many different sporting and cultural communities. However, the plethora of opportunities Bryant left his family, and the management of those entities by his estate, thereafter, shed light on a neglected area of branding research. How athletes are able to prepare their estates to continue to benefit from their name, image, and likeness, even after death, is a substantial topic in regard to the legacy that various athletes are able to establish. Through an analysis of various posthumous branding phenomena, as well as a comparison with other posthumous celebrity brands, this commentary discusses the current issues faced by athletes, such as ownership and protection. An understanding of current barriers to greater posthumous earnings will benefit how athletes and researchers alike construct and evaluate brands, respectively. Future research should address how prevalent forward thinking is to athletes’ brand building toward a successful postathletic career, as well as the current status of estate planning and brand communication by athletes and/or their brand managers.
Antonio S. Williams, Zack P. Pedersen, and Kelly J. Brummett
Markus Buser, Herbert Woratschek, Geoff Dickson, and Jan Schönberner
Network approaches in sport management are mainly guided by the logic of sport products, where firms produce value that is used-up by consumers. This logic neglects the collaborative nature of sport. On the contrary, the logic of value co-creation provides a perspective where actors collaborate to co-create value in sport networks. Thus, this purely conceptual research aims to examine approaches to value co-creation in sport ecosystems to offer a holistic perspective on the interconnectedness of actors and engagement platforms. Using the concepts of value co-creation, engagement platforms, and sport network approaches, this paper conceptualizes the Sport Ecosystem Logic as a general theory to promote innovative research. Comprising five fundamental premises, the Sport Ecosystem Logic explains how actors’ shared interests in sporting activities evolve into an entire sport ecosystem. The Sport Ecosystem Logic advances our understanding of actors’ resource integration on sport engagement platforms and how these platforms are interconnected in a sport ecosystem.
Vanessa Bright, Stacy Warner, and Claire Zvosec
Athletes may be especially primed to become referees; yet, we do not know what former athletes think about this career choice. To address the worldwide referee shortage, it is important to better understand athletes’ perceptions of refereeing. From a Career Contingency Model framework, it is evident athletes’ perception would influence their decision to consider refereeing. This study’s aim was to examine athletes’ perceptions of the refereeing environment (RQ1) and identify referee recruitment barriers (RQ2). Utilizing a descriptive phenomenological approach, 23 current and former athletes took part in semistructured interviews based on their lived experience as an athlete. The participants identified the officiating environment as a high-stress environment with financial instability, while time and lack of knowledge and support were identified as recruitment barriers. The results contributed to the burgeoning line of research attempting to address the global referee shortage and provide both theoretical and practical implications for sport managers.
Michael Mutz and Markus Gerke
This study uses experimental methods to assess the causal effect of media presentations on viewer’s emotions, national identification, and nation-related values. In three experiments covering marginal sports disciplines, viewers watched broadcasts of compatriots winning an Olympic gold medal, either featuring emotional and partisan reporting styles or a neutral audio commentary. Findings show that those exposed to the partisan commentary experienced heightened emotions; identified more strongly with their nation; exhibited more patriotism and nationalism; and ascribed positive values (e.g., achievement, diligence) more strongly to their home country than did viewers in the control group. These results suggest that the broadcasting styles influence viewers’ emotions, attitudes, and collective identifications beyond the effects of the sporting competition itself.
Zack P. Pedersen
Chris Corr, Crystal Southall, and Richard M. Southall
Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) bowl games represent a final opportunity for teams to showcase themselves in front of a national television audience. Capital One Bowl Mania, as branded by the broadcast network ESPN, is a signature event of college football, and the College Football Playoff national championship marks the end of the FBS season. During the 2019–2020 FBS postseason, ESPN owned the broadcast rights to 36 of the 41 FBS bowl games. Controlling nearly 90% of FBS bowl games, ESPN controls the representation of almost every broadcast bowl game. Informed by extant research on the now defunct Bowl Championship Series, this study looks for evidence of a hypercommercial media logic in the institutional field of FBS bowl games. Using a mixed-method approach, this paper investigates the reproduction of a sample of 18 FBS bowl game broadcasts and considers the extent to which the increased use of in-game graphics in broadcast production structures and practices reflects an hypercommercial media logic.