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Esports Scholarship Review: Synthesis, Contributions, and Future Research

Anthony D. Pizzo, Yiran Su, Tobias Scholz, Bradley J. Baker, Juho Hamari, and Leah Ndanga

Esports, or competitive video gaming competitions, bring together aspects of sports, business, leisure, technology, and digital media, appealing to academics across multiple disciplines. Yet, esports scholarship remains highly fragmented, with scholars operating within traditional academic silos and forgoing opportunities to build on esports’ interdisciplinary nature. The purpose of this integrative review is to synthesize esports scholarship from across disciplines, identify critical scholarly issues, and develop a pragmatic, interdisciplinary research agenda. We find that extant esports scholarship is categorized by literature seeking to conceptualize and legitimize esports via sport parallels, with a focus on the consumers and culture of esports. Scholarly issues include researchers examining esports in their respective academic silos, omitting opportunities to connect conceptually similar streams of literature. Overall, we synthesize esports scholarship, bridge chasms between disjointed streams of literature, and outline a pragmatic research agenda which could benefit from interdisciplinary inquiries based on a shared understanding of esports.

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Understanding the Lack of Diversity in Sport Consumer Behavior Research

Elizabeth B. Delia, E. Nicole Melton, Katherine Sveinson, George B. Cunningham, and Daniel Lock

Sport consumer behavior researchers have developed a robust understanding of how and why people consume sport, and the consequences of consumption. There has been little reflection, however, on the settings or populations used to study consumers and develop theory. In acknowledging the importance of diversity, equity, and inclusion to advance both theory and practice, the authors conducted a scoping review of diversity in sport consumer behavior research, focusing on four sport management journals. The review revealed a widespread lack of diversity, with most studies focusing on men’s sport in highly commercialized settings. Furthermore, study participants often identify as White men, middle-aged or young, educated, and with at least some disposable income. Leveraging an institutional work lens, the authors address taken-for-granted norms that may have contributed to these trends and propose solutions.

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Are “Tech-Savvy” Owners Better for Business? Evidence From Major League Baseball

Ted Hayduk III

Business intelligence (BI) technologies can help firms optimize revenue and expenses if acquired and deployed proficiently. In parallel, the sport industry’s shift toward digitization is being driven by an influx of new, technology-savvy owners and managers. It follows that owners who are business intelligence experts could make their sport organizations more profitable. This paper models 14 years of Major League Baseball data to explore the degree to which owners with business intelligence career experience affect their organization’s operating margin through (a) optimizing revenue and (b) enhancing cost efficiency. It further explores owners’ knowledge accrual as a moderator in this process. Results suggest the effect of business intelligence expertise on margins is positive, but small. Margin increases were attained by spending more efficiently on labor, not by generating more revenue. These mediating effects were moderated by knowledge accrual, such that a longer tenure increased the early-tenure advantages of BI career experience.

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Volume 36 (2022): Issue 2 (Mar 2022)

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Toward a Sport Ecosystem Logic

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.

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The Digital World of Sport: The Impact of Emerging Media on Sports News, Information, and Journalism

Katja Sonkeng

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Refereeing as a Postathletic Career Option

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.

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Privileging Practice in Sport Leadership: Applying Relational Reflexivity

Zack J. Damon, Sarah Leberman, Janelle E. Wells, Laura Burton, Lesley Ferkins, Jim Weese, and Jon Welty Peachey

Hibbert et al.’s relationally reflexive practice framework guided the authors to develop a new sport leadership generative partnership model emphasizing privileging practice and the sport sector as it relates to researching, teaching, and practicing sport leadership. The 2019 North American Society for Sport Management symposium on sport leadership, titled “The Changing Face of Leadership Within Sport: What Does the Future Hold?” acted as a springboard for deep, reflexive conversations among the authors. Through the development of our model, we purposely highlight the process of a relationally reflexive journey making sense of our lived experiences, engaging with learnings from the symposium, and arguing that sport leadership and followership research and teaching ultimately should be about improving the sport sector within specific cultural contexts. We offer critically conscious considerations for privileging and embedding practice as part of sport management teaching, research, and service.

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Volume 36 (2022): Issue 1 (Jan 2022)

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The Political Economy of Mass Sport Participation Legacies From Large-Scale Sport Events: A Conceptual Paper

Alana Thomson, Kristine Toohey, and Simon Darcy

Sport event studies have demonstrated that relevant stakeholders must share objectives and coordinate efforts to leverage a large-scale sport event to secure positive legacies. However, the challenging and complex task of collaboration between networks of diverse organizational stakeholders to secure legacies has received little scholarly attention. In this conceptual paper, the authors explore, through a political economy lens, differences between the political economies of sports and sport events pertaining to mass sport participation legacies. The authors focus on the mesolevel and consider how divergences in political economy elements—structure and context, stakeholders and ideas/incentives, and bargaining processes—influence the likelihood of mass sport participation legacies from large-scale sport events. The authors suggest a need for event legacy stakeholders to engage more meaningfully with the complexities surrounding securing mass sport participation legacies. In addition, they provide pragmatic, actionable implications for policy and practice to assist stakeholders in addressing the challenges they face to maximize legacy outcomes.