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Legacy Branding: The Posthumous Utilization and Management of Athlete Brands

Antonio S. Williams, Zack P. Pedersen, and Kelly J. Brummett

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.

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Volume 15 (2022): Issue 1 (Mar 2022)

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Erratum: Price et al. (2022)

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Media Presentations of Olympic Victories and Nation-Related Identification Among Viewers: The Influence of Emotions Induced by Sportscasts

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.

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Branding in Higher Education: Every University Tells a Story

Zack P. Pedersen

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The ESPNification of Football Bowl Subdivision College Football: The Adoption of an Integrated Marketing Communication Televisuality in Football Bowl Subdivision Bowl Game Broadcasts

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.

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Optimizing Social Media Engagement in Professional Sport: A 3-Year Examination of Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter Posts

Michael L. Naraine and Jordan T. Bakhsh

Although social media has gained significant notoriety, there remains a “missing link” in examining engagement in the sport context. While the why, what, and whom have been explored, the where and when have received considerably less uptake. Accordingly, the purpose of this study was to examine social media engagement for professional sports teams to determine optimal when and where points of user engagement, and the relationship between impressions and engagement. Over two billion data points from 108,124 Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter posts were collected from four professional sports teams between 2017 and 2019. Findings from a regression analysis indicate that both when and where variables significantly predicted impression, and findings from the correlation analysis indicate that impression and engagement are nearly identical. These findings show fan engagement in the context of professional sport teams, prompting scholars to consider the impacts of time and platform, and encourage practitioners to rethink posting on Twitter, the least engaging of the Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter platforms.

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Using Profanity and Negative Sentiments: An Analysis of Ultimate Fighting Championship Fighters’ Trash Talk on Fans’ Social Media Engagement and Viewership Habits

Duarte Tereso, Sérgio Moro, Pedro Ramos, Teresa Calapez, Joana M. Costa, and Tyler Ratts

The rise in popularity of combat sports has afforded fighters an enhanced celebrity status, especially across online platforms that provide fans the opportunity to engage with and discuss their favorite athletes. Given this growth, fighters’ behaviors, both inside and outside of the arena, can have a strong influence on fans’ consumption and social media activity. To evaluate this relationship, this study investigated the effect of combat sports fighters’ trash talking on subsequent fans’ behaviors by collecting and analyzing 516 fighter responses during prefight press conferences and 32,360 fan tweets on Twitter during Ultimate Fighting Championship events. Results demonstrated that fights featuring polarizing and popular athletes generated the highest pay-per-view numbers, and higher levels of profanity speech during trash talking were associated with higher engagement in pay-per-view consumption and Twitter usage.

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The World is Watching Women’s Soccer: Audiences’ Multiplatform Experience During the World Cup

Tang Tang, Christiana Schallhorn, Qing Guo, and Danielle Sarver Coombs

This study offers a unique opportunity to understand audiences’ multiplatform experiences during the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The authors conducted surveys in three countries—China, Germany, and the United States—to determine relationships between and among structural and identity factors that predicted viewership in each country. Results indicate that structural factors significantly predicted World Cup viewing on TV across all three countries, although some variation existed related to access. Furthermore, fandom and identity were significant predictors of viewing on digital platforms across all three countries. By better measuring the experiences and relationships within each country, this study offers a unique opportunity to present a true cross-country assessment to help build understanding of how global mega events are viewed across the world.

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Governance in Sport: Analysis and Application

Cassandra Coble