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“In Soccer, We Have the Opportunity to Call Attention to Certain Things”: An Examination of Media Framing of Activism for Human Rights in German Sport

Yannick Kluch, Evan L. Frederick, and Nina Siegfried

The goal of this study was to extend the contemporary athlete activism literature by (a) exploring athlete activism beyond a strictly North American context and (b) examining how athlete activism at an organizational/institutional level (i.e., sport organization) may be framed differently than activist efforts at an individual level (i.e., athlete). By examining two examples of activism in German soccer, we show that the framing of both athlete-enacted and organization-enacted examples of activism highlighted the importance of speaking up when human rights are violated, called for the display of solidarity, and discussed the broader political implications for such protests. Additionally, framing of both examples of activism included voices of criticism regarding the sport organizations governing global sport. As calls for accountability of sport organizations suppressing athlete expression are becoming increasingly common in global sport, this study adds to a shifting focus of activism research targeting the sport institutions that often perpetuate the various injustices individual athletes call attention to.

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Social Media and Consumer Behavior

Andrea N. Geurin

The topics of social media and consumer behavior are inextricably linked. Since 2008, scholars in sport-studies fields such as sport communication and sport management have increasingly focused their research on social media use by sport entities and consumers. This commentary provides an overview of sport social media and consumer behavior scholarship to date, including prominent and growing topics such as consumers’ uses of social media, social media engagement, user segmentation, and user-generated content. A scoping review was conducted to illustrate the current state of research on social media, sport, and consumer behavior. Future research priorities to advance this area of inquiry are also discussed, including more qualitative research resulting in rich and descriptive analyses, the need to better understand Gen Z as sport social media consumers, and the need to understand the connection between social media consumption and purchasing behavior. Finally, the commentary encourages scholars to expand their research focus in geographic contexts outside of North America, on underrepresented groups, such as women’s sport and disability sport, and to adopt new theoretical frameworks for such research.

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Examining the Digital Pitch: A 3-Year Examination of Social Media Metrics From Men’s Professional Sport

Alyssa Scalera and Michael L. Naraine

Although research in the social media and sport domain continues to uncover key insights related to content, there has been a push toward identifying the social media metrics that serve as the antecedents to relationship marketing engagement. Along that vein, the purpose of this study was to analyze social media activity (i.e., impressions and engagements) from all teams in a given professional sport league over a 3-year period. Contextually set with Major League Soccer teams for the 2017, 2018, and 2019 calendar years, 66,745 Instagram posts were retrieved using MVPindex and parsed for focal social media metrics (i.e., impressions and engagements) for each team using a temporal lens (i.e., by month and by day). Findings of this study align with past work indicating the need for sport properties to focus on posting outside of game-day windows, harnessing the ongoing, instantaneous nature of social media.

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Team Representation: Scale Development and Validation

Akira Asada and Katherine R.N. Reifurth

The purpose of the current study was to develop a valid and reliable measure of team representation, which refers to the extent to which the residents of a community perceive a local sports team to be representative of the community. Through our literature review, focus groups, and surveys, we identified four key dimensions that serve as formative indicators of team representation (i.e., normative, descriptive, symbolic, and substantive representation) and developed scale items measuring those dimensions. The results of exploratory factor analysis and partial least squares structural equation modeling confirmed the validity of our scale items and reflective–formative measurement model. As the first study to develop and validate scale items measuring specific dimensions of team representation, the current research provides significant contributions to the literature. Our scale items also enable sports teams to assess their representative status in their local communities and develop effective strategies to improve their representation.

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University–Organization Collaboration in Sport for Development: Understanding Practitioners’ Perspectives and Experiences in Research and Evaluation Partnerships

Meredith A. Whitley, Jon Welty Peachey, Julia Leitermann, NaRi Shin, and Adam Cohen

Despite a growing body of scholarship exploring university–organization collaborations in the sport for development (SfD) field, there has been limited consideration of the experiences of practitioners and partnering organizations in these partnerships. The purpose of this study was to examine their experiences when partnering with academic institutions, programs, scholars, and/or students, with a specific focus on research and evaluation partnerships. Interviews were conducted with 22 participants working at 20 SfD organizations in the United States. Findings were organized into six main categories (e.g., motivations, factors that facilitate or impede collaboration, collaboration outcomes). A conceptual process framework for university–organization collaboration emerged from the data. This study is one of the first in the SfD field to examine practitioners’ perspectives of university–organization collaborations centered on research and evaluation activities. The findings help advance the SfD field, identifying the various factors at play as these partnerships are formed, activated, and sustained.

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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.