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Volume 37 (2023): Issue 3 (May 2023)

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Are Soccer Organizations More Resilient in Crisis Situations? A Scholarly Commentary on the Audiotape Scandal of Real Madrid’s President

César García

In July 2021, numerous audio recordings dating back to 2006 through 2012 were leaked. In them, Real Madrid’s President Florentino Pérez was heard insulting some of the most beloved legends of Real Madrid fans, including celebrity Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite his lack of manners, the seriousness of the president’s insults, and the lack of a formal apology, the images of Pérez and Real Madrid barely suffered because of this incident. This scholarly commentary examines the variables of culture and country as well as the specific characteristics of the soccer industry and fandom that explain the lack of public accountability when a top executive of a soccer organization commits verbal excesses in form and substance, as in the Pérez case.

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Role Models and Athlete Expression at the Youth Olympic Games as Impactful Sport Communication Practices

Jannicke Stålstrøm, Marina Iskhakova, and Zack P. Pedersen

This study investigated athlete expressions and the impact that Olympian (OLY) role models have on athletes participating at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG), with a focus on the YOG educational program. The YOG educational program was created in 2010 and has not yet garnered extensive scholarly examination. Therefore, the aim of the current investigation was to develop an understanding of the impact that OLY role models have on YOG athletes and the communicative practices young athletes use to express themselves. This study used a mixed methodology (i.e., survey and interviews) and drew on three theories (i.e., social learning theory, role model theory, and communicative theory of expression) to better understand the aforementioned impact of OLY role models on YOG athletes. An examination of the communicative expression practices of OLY role models, through the mixed methodological approach, produced novel findings pertaining to YOG athlete perceptions of the structure and benefit of the educational program.

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Exploring the Perception of Division I Coaches and Administrators About International Collegiate Athlete Exclusion From Name, Image, and Likeness Opportunities

Emily M. Newell and Simran Kaur Sethi

On July 1, 2021, the National Collegiate Athletic Association suspended its amateurism bylaw, allowing states to pass name, image, and likeness legislation. This opened the floodgates in intercollegiate athletics, allowing student-athletes to earn income and other financial incentives by engaging in sponsorships and other commercial deals with companies and organizations. Despite this, international collegiate athletes are currently prohibited from monetizing name, image, and likeness opportunities in the United States due to exclusionary restrictions on the F1 student visa status. There has been limited discourse regarding this near exclusion, leaving international collegiate athletes a silent group with few advocating for changes to ensure equity. This preliminary study investigates the perceptions of National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I intercollegiate athletic practitioners and coaches on the impact this exclusion can have on a wide range of issues, including recruiting, team dynamics, and job function. Findings suggested there are five main areas where this legislative gap will have an impact, including education, finance, diversion, equity and fairness, and American exceptionalism.

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Does the Game Matter? Analyzing Sponsorship Effectiveness and Message Personalization in Sport Live Broadcasts

Elisa Herold and Christoph Breuer

This study aims to increase the effective use of in-stadium sponsor message placement by analyzing the influence of various run-of-play characteristics on television viewers’ visual attention allocation. Sports broadcasts constitute one potential platform for sponsors to place personalized messages. However, literature still questions the effectiveness of in-stadium sponsor messages, and the influence of game-related factors on viewers’ visual attention has received little consideration in this context. In addition, researchers call for more reliable and realistic measures concerning the effective evaluation of sponsorship-linked marketing. Therefore, this study uses real-time adaptions (eye-tracking, in-play betting odds, etc.) utilizing live soccer broadcasts as one of the first. Data were analyzed second by second (n = 100,298) using generalized linear mixed models. Results indicate significant associations of several run-of-play characteristics with viewers’ visual attention to sponsor messages depending on the characteristic, the games’ degree of suspense, and playing time. Findings provide hands-on advice for practitioners to enhance sponsor message placement during live broadcasts.

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With Name, Image, and Likeness, College Sports Enters the Gig Economy

Sam C. Ehrlich, Joe Sabin, and Neal C. Ternes

With the arrival of name, image, and likeness (NIL), the college sports labor market has distinctly taken on similar characteristics to the gig economy, with athletes able to earn extra compensation through external NIL-based independent contractor “gigs.” But with this comparison comes comparable issues, and scholarship and litigation examining and challenging gig economy structures have identified several legal and ethical concerns both individual to each worker and more broadly affecting labor markets. Building off this literature, we conceptualize the NIL phenomenon within the gig economy space, exploring the legal and ethical concerns that have plagued companies like Uber and applying those same concerns to the brave new world of NIL-fueled college sports. We not only find similar issues in college sports but also find even deeper concerns based on new and existing challenges unique to the novel space of college sports, particularly given the increased proliferation of NIL collectives.

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“This Isn’t a Sports Story … This Is a Life Story”: Elite Athletes and Myths About Mental Illness in Sport

Scott Parrott

Athletes face unique mental health stressors, including internal/external pressure, time displacement, and physical injury. In addition, athletes who experience mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety reference the role of social factors—specifically stigma—as barriers to mental health. The present study draws on 37 testimonials from The Players’ Tribune in which athletes disclosed mental illness. A theoretical thematic analysis pinpointed themes within the testimonials of athletes who elucidated and refuted myths concerning mental health in sport. Through disclosure, the athletes challenged stigma by protesting myths that discourage help-seeking behavior in sport. The analysis identified six themes in the myths concerning (a) professional success, (b) strength, (c) identity, (d) the sports story treatment of mental health, (e) sport as escape, and (f) isolation. Implications are discussed in relation to changing social norms in sport.

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The Anticorruption Effects of Information and Communication Technology in Sport Organizations: The Role of Organizational Health Mediation and Organizational Transparency

Sajjad Pashaie and Popi Sotiriadou

This study addresses a topic neglected by the sport management literature: the impact of anticorruption effects of information and communication technology (ICT) in sport organizations on the role of organizational health mediation and organizational transparency. This study analyses this topic by presenting and testing a comprehensive theoretical model. This quantitative, descriptive survey uses structural equation modeling methodology. Data collection was carried out by employees (N = 384) working at the Iranian Ministry of Sport and Youth. The results of the study were processed using LISREL 8.80 software in the model and hypothesis testing, and the study found support for the theoretical model. The results show that (a) ICT is an effective tool for reducing administrative corruption of officials, and (b) in terms of both organizational health (variance accounted for = 0.40) and organizational transparency (variance accounted for = 0.39), ICT has a mediating role in reducing administrative corruption in sport organizations. This study fills a gap in the literature by addressing both personal and managerial perspectives, thus allowing directors of sport organizations to consider ICT a useful and practical management tool for reducing corruption among officials in sport organizations, as an adjunct to traditional methods such as administrative reform and law enforcement.

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Branding a Nation: A Case Study on South Africa, Social Media, and the 2010 FIFA World Cup

Emily Sauter

In 2004, South Africa was awarded the opportunity to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The opportunity to reshape their national identity in the spotlight of the World Cup came at a particularly useful time for South Africa. Despite the country’s seemingly miraculous transition from apartheid to democracy—a transition lauded around the world—the country’s reputation was soon dragged down by concerns about crime, unemployment, and a rising rate of HIV infections. Although a number of scholars have looked at the long- and short-term effects of South Africa’s effort at creating a national identity during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, questions of process remain to be explored. What rhetorical strategies were employed to build this national image? What role did developing social media platforms play in the World Cup campaign? What were the communication tactics that led to a successful World Cup campaign? Using the theory of dialectical vernacular, I argue that South Africa was able to use the stage and emotional setting of the World Cup, in combination with a unique moment in time in branding and social media, to cultivate and deploy user-generated content to create a sense of authenticity that successfully sold a positive image of South Africa to the world. Essentially, South Africa was able to take digital material that was submitted by citizens around the country, and around the world, and use it to build a campaign that was vernacular, transnational, and embodied in nature. This allowed them to manufacture a national identity that effectively (at least in the short term) redirected conversations away from the more complicated issues affecting the country to, instead, showcase South Africa as a successful democratic nation.

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Indications of Referee Bias in Division I Women’s College Volleyball: Testing Expectancy Violations and Examining Nonverbal Communication

Andrew Dix

This research examined the ball-handling errors that referees called against historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Division I women’s college volleyball. A ball-handling error is an impermissible nonverbal communicative act such as a ball being lifted, a ball being thrown, or a ball being double hit. Previous research on referee bias was reviewed. Expectancy violations theory served as the theoretical frame because it focuses on nonverbal behaviors and how a message receiver responds to violations. Using publicly available data, this research sought to draw points of comparison between HBCUs and predominantly White institutions. The uncovered data revealed that referees called more ball-handling errors per set against HBCUs relative to predominantly White institutions. Furthermore, only HBCU conferences were penalized at a statistically significant level, while no predominantly White institution conferences were penalized at a statistically significant level. Theoretical implications for expectancy violations theory and practical implications for HBCUs were the focus of the study discussion.