Beginning in early March 2020, sport in the United States entered an unprecedented period of hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The postponement, suspension, and cancellation of live sporting events impacted every professional and amateur sport organization, from the National Basketball Association to the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing, high school sports to college football, and even esports leagues. Although the abrupt cancellation of live sporting events was disruptive, it did create opportunities for the production of new media and consumption opportunities for sport leagues, teams, and their fans through different types of sport media broadcasts. This commentary examines how the U.S. sport industry developed media content strategies using new, mixed, and rebroadcasted content, across multiple broadcast and streaming platforms, to provide sport consumption opportunities to fans who were largely quarantined at home. This research contributes to the existing scholarship on live and rebroadcasted mediated content, while providing guidance to content owners and rights holders facing uncertainty in the marketplace.
Michael M. Goldman and David P. Hedlund
Stirling Sharpe, Charles Mountifield, and Kevin Filo
The global coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has resulted in restrictions on gatherings of large crowds, the suspension of live sport events across the globe, and the relegation of topical televised sport to broadcasts of past events and competitions. Consequently, there has been a shift in focus from the entertainment aspect of sport to the health and well-being aspects of sport. As athletes, teams, and sport organizations have become subject to government legislation concerning physical distancing, self-isolation, and lockdowns, the resultant spare time has presented the opportunity for individual athletes and sport organizations to pursue an approach to social media that includes viral challenges, fundraising, and socializing online. This paper provides a commentary on select high-profile athletes’ and sport organizations’ social media behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic, which has adopted an altruistic tone.
Xiaochen Zhou, Daniel C. Funk, Lu Lu, and Thilo Kunkel
The athleisure phenomenon has initiated a fast-paced evolution in the activewear industry and challenged brands to design and market activewear that fulfills consumer needs. Existing sport consumer behavior research has neglected to understand the structural relationships that connect attributes of sport products with values of sport consumers to inform values-based product design and marketing strategies. The current research utilizes the means-end chain theory and its corresponding soft laddering method to investigate the activewear consumption experience of female consumers. Findings revealed means-end chain structural relationships connecting five product attributes to three end-state values through four consequences associated with activewear consumption. Findings extend the sport management literature by understanding how sport product attributes fit into abstract consumer values and drive practical implications to enlighten activewear design and marketing.
Anthony D. Pizzo, Bradley J. Baker, Gareth J. Jones, and Daniel C. Funk
Emerging technologies not only pose challenges for how sport organizations are managed but also create opportunities for sport organizations to become more competitive by enhancing consumers’ service experience. The integration of wearable fitness technology (WFT) by health and fitness clubs provides an opportunity to examine the influence of WFT on the service experience. Although existing research on technology innovations typically examines either the individual or the organizational perspective in isolation, we use the sport experience design framework to comprehensively examine the influence of WFT on the management and perceptions of service experiences. Participants (N = 37) who took part in the qualitative study included fitness club owners (n = 13), fitness club instructors (n = 7), and fitness club members (n = 17). Findings indicate that integrating WFT enhances the service experience via increased social interaction, gamification, and accountability. However, findings also suggest that technology innovations must be integrated carefully to avoid misalignment between providers’ and users’ perceptions. Despite the potential for misalignment, emerging technologies can enhance and expand the service experience beyond the physical environment, presenting sport organizations with technology-mediated opportunities to engage consumers.
Janelle E. Wells, Melanie Sartore-Baldwin, Nefertiti A. Walker, and Cheryl E. Gray
Stigmas and incivility are common across all facets of sport, yet empirical examination is lacking, especially when it comes to women in leadership positions. In intercollegiate athletics, the senior woman administrator position is designated by the National Collegiate Athletic Association as the highest ranking woman serving the athletic department, so this study examined the extent to which stigma consciousness and workplace incivility impact the work outcomes of 234 senior woman administrators. Structural equation modeling and open-ended responses demonstrated that stigma consciousness is associated with higher perceived incivility, which is associated with lower job satisfaction and perceived organizational opportunity. Thus, stigma consciousness and workplace incivility not only operate as influential independent factors within the workplace setting, but stigma consciousness also serves as an antecedent to workplace incivility. Managerial strategies empowering professionals may help reduce stigmas, prevent uncivil behaviors in the workplace, and ultimately, improve outcomes.
Nicholas P. Davidson, James Du, and Michael D. Giardina
The rapidly escalating COVID-19 pandemic has forced the sport industry into unchartered territory. Beginning on March 11, 2020, when the National Basketball Association suspended its season, the American sports landscape has consequently encountered an unprecedented number of temporary suspensions, postponements, and cancellations. Although most major leagues and their pertaining sports have halted to a sudden stop, professional wrestling has surprisingly continued on, including World Wrestling Entertainment’s WrestleMania 36, which was held without fans in attendance. The maintenance of professional wrestling during the COVID-19 crisis has presented a unique situation, in which fans and companies involved in the sport have rallied on social media platforms behind the sport’s relative normality in a time of global uncertainty. Leveraging publicly trackable Twitter data, we analyzed public sentiments toward two of the largest companies (e.g., World Wrestling Entertainment and All Elite Wrestling) in the professional wrestling industry and related trends during the widespread onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in the United States. The results represent exploratory insights surrounding the continuation of professional wrestling during the COVID-19 pandemic.
R. Dale Sheptak Jr. and Brian E. Menaker
The COVID-19 pandemic of 2020 has exposed major weaknesses in economic, governmental, and social structures that many have taken for granted in everyday life. The sport industry, which has gained unprecedented popularity in recent decades, is no exception. Decisions, driven in response to the COVID-19 outbreak, to suspend play in major sports leagues across the globe have exposed the precarious nature of the work situation that hourly event workers find themselves in. As the games stopped, so did the earnings of workers who impact essential aspects of the sport spectators’ experience. These workers include the part-time front of house staff for public assembly facilities, including ushers, concessions workers, ticket takers, and security personnel. This essay, drawing on ideas from C.W. Mills, Arne Kalleberg, and Guy Standing, will examine the impact of the pandemic on the employment of these workers by looking at the state of labor associated with sport and sports events. Furthermore, the essay will explore the challenges facing a class of workers who depend on numerous part-time or seasonal sports event jobs to scrape together an existence when sport suddenly stops. Finally, the essay will address the potential aftereffects of the COVID-19 pandemic on sport labor and consider how sport work could change as a result. This scholarly commentary lays the groundwork for further study and analysis of an important, yet rarely remarked on, aspect of employment morality and sport labor studies.
Beth A. Cianfrone and Timothy Kellison
Following the cancellation of the 2020 National Collegiate Athletic Association Men’s Basketball Final Four, the Atlanta Basketball Host Committee faced the unique challenge of executing a “postevent” wind-down amid a global health emergency and citywide stay-at-home mandate. While a significant portion of the host committee’s tasks were completed in the days and weeks after the cancellation, one key component that lingered was event legacy. In this study, the authors examined how a local organizing committee’s legacy planning was disrupted as a result of the coronavirus pandemic. Based on interviews with National Collegiate Athletic Association and host committee officials, direct and participant-based observation, and an analysis of local and social media reporting, the authors described the Atlanta Basketball Host Committee’s pre- and postpandemic legacy plans. This study underscores the potential enduring nature of legacy plans, even during unprecedented crises that threaten the headlining event.
Nicolas Pontes, Vivian Pontes, Hyun Seung Jin, and Chris Mahar
Previous literature on sponsorship-linked marketing have shown that articulation messages lead to more favorable attitudes toward the sponsor brand. However, results from some studies do not entirely support this finding, suggesting that important variables affecting the sponsorship articulation–fit relationship may have been overlooked. Addressing this gap in the literature, the authors show that consumer responses to sponsorship articulation are moderated by the fan’s level of identification with a sports team. That is, fans high in team identification respond differently to various types of articulation messages whereas fans with lower team identification levels do not. Furthermore, the authors demonstrate that messages highlighting how fans and sports team benefit from the sponsorship deal elicit thoughts of sincerity which in turn evokes reciprocity and more favorable attitudes from highly identified fans.
Kathy Babiak and Stacy-Lynn Sant
Professional athletes are increasingly engaged in social impact efforts via charitable endeavors. Despite seemingly good intentions in these efforts, the media’s representation of athlete philanthropy varies widely. This study examines how discourses of athlete charity are represented in U.S. media coverage. Over 100 newspaper articles were obtained for the period of 2005–2017. The authors conducted a qualitative analysis which consisted of attribute coding for basic article characteristics, identification of both framing and reasoning devices, and deductive coding to identify generic media frames. The authors present an adapted frame matrix highlighting the salient frames in media coverage of athlete philanthropy. Our results show that athlete charitable efforts are related to a personal or emotional connection or linked to an economic perspective around philanthropy. A third frame reflected a moral underpinning to athletes’ charitable work. The authors discuss managerial implications for teams and leagues that provide support for athletes’ charitable work, as well as for the athletes themselves.