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Jonathan Robertson, Mathew Dowling, Marvin Washington, Becca Leopkey, Dana Lee Ellis, and Lee Smith

Institutional theory has generated considerable insight into fundamental issues within sport. This study seeks to advance Washington and Patterson’s review by providing an empirical review of institutional theory in sport. We follow Arksey and O’Malley’s scoping review protocol to identify 188 sport-related institutional studies between 1979 and 2019. Our review provides evidence regarding the state of institutional scholarship within sport via an analysis of authorship, year, journal, methodology, method, study population, and use of institutional constructs (legitimacy, isomorphism, change, logics, fields, and work). Rather than a hostile takeover or a joint venture proposed in Washington and Patterson’s review, the relationship between fields is more aptly described as a diffusion of ideas. By developing an empirical review of institutional studies in sport, we hope to expedite the diffusion of ideas between the two fields and work toward realizing the collective benefits any future joint venture may bring.

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Marlene A. Dixon

In her 2020 Earle F. Zeigler Award address, Marlene Dixon presented and discussed five elements of a sustained career in academia: Lifelong Learning, Authenticity, Relational Mentoring, Work-Life Balance, and Faithfulness. Dixon suggests that remaining open to new learning and taking risks helps increase capacity and vigor. Authenticity brings richness, voice, durability, and purpose. Relational mentoring brings connection, community, enrichment, and longevity. Cultivating work-life balance, rest, and self-care not only helps avoid burnout, but also improves creativity, playfulness, and liveliness. Finally, leveraging the extended metaphor from Tolkein’s Leaf by Niggle, Dixon argues that faithfulness, rather than visibility or measurable outcome, defines the meaning and value of our work and contribution not only to science, but also to our life circles.

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Kristen A. Morrison and Katie E. Misener

Engaging in strategic planning may help leaders of community sport organizations (CSOs) to develop strategic thinking as well as build capacity to sustain and expand their programs despite environmental uncertainty. This study proposes a framework for understanding how the membership growth strategies of CSOs are shaped based on their environment. Semi-structured interviews with presidents of CSOs, alongside analysis of strategic plan documents, were used to identify strategic imperatives that CSO leaders considered when formulating their organizational strategies. These imperatives were grouped into two dimensions: organizational readiness for growth and environmental dynamism. These dimensions were then juxtaposed to create a matrix of four strategic approaches: Trailblazers, Enhancers, Maintainers, and Carers. Each approach is described in detail and implications for strategic management in community sport are discussed.

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Diego Monteiro Gutierrez, Marco Antonio Bettine de Almeida, Gustavo Luis Gutierrez, Zack P. Pedersen, and Antonio S. Williams

The current investigation uses critical discourse analysis to compare how international media entities portrayed Brazil in the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. The aim of the study was to understand how the specific characteristics of each event impact the media discourse and influence the portrayal of the host country. In this sense, the research concluded that the popular appeal of the event and the historical relation of the country with the sport have a profound impact on the type of coverage. Also, historical aspects and the diversity of athletes in the Summer Olympics contributed to a coverage more focused on the social issues of the host country. In the Brazilian case, this resulted in a more positive view of the country from the FIFA World Cup than the Summer Olympics.

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Niels Boysen Feddersen and Simon Edward Phelan

We examined how two elite British sports organizations began accepting behaviors that might challenge ethical and professional standards. The data for the current paper came from two separate ethnographic studies. We used Alvesson and Einola’s Functional Stupidity to analyze the data for processes of a lack of reflexivity, lack of justification, and a lack of substantial reasoning presented in three vignettes for each case organization. We then carried out a cross-case analysis and showed that periods of significant change are high risk for the spread of unethical and unprofessional behaviors. The common rationales for accepting such behaviors were (a) you have not spent time in the trenches, (b) it has always been like this, (c) policing space, (d) I am just doing my job, and (e) giving opportunities to those close to me. Our findings suggest a sense of banality to wrongdoing where normal people slipped into ethical problem areas.

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Jacob K. Tingle, Brittany L. Jacobs, Lynn L. Ridinger, and Stacy Warner

Sporting culture often celebrates mental toughness and chides weakness, which can stigmatize mental health issues. While some sport organizations have prioritized addressing mental well-being, referees have been ignored. Referees work in high-pressure environments; thus, the need to understand, destigmatize, and normalize the conversation around mental health within the referee community and the larger sporting system is important. Because the prevalence of stress-related issues is greater for women, this study focused on female referees’ well-being, interviewing 20 female U.S. basketball referees via a hermeneutic phenomenological approach. Participants represented various geographical regions in the United States and officiated at levels ranging from high school to professional. Findings revealed Gendered Aggressions negatively impacted the referees, mental health issues are Stigmatized, and more Resources and Support are needed. Results also indicated that officiating can be Cathartic. Suggestions for addressing the referee shortage and improving the officiating experience are included.

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Laramie D. Taylor and Irena Acic

Magical thinking describes beliefs and reasoning processes that defy generally accepted principles of logic and causality. Researchers have identified a link between strength of identification with a favorite sports team and superstition, an expression of magical thinking. Research on fans of fictional narratives has suggested magical thinking more broadly may play a role in being a fan. The authors posed the question, what is the link between sports fanship and two specific types of magical thinking: magical ideation and sympathetic magic? In a survey of 214 adults, relationships between strength of sports fanship and magical ideation, sympathetic magic in a sports context, and sympathetic magic generally were explored. Belief in sympathetic magic with regard to sports figures was found to be prominent among sports fans. In addition, a positive relationship was observed between strength of sports fanship and strength of belief in both sympathetic magic generally and magical ideation. Implications are discussed in terms of recruitment of and marketing to potential and existing fans.

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Katherine Raw, Emma Sherry, Katie Rowe, and Shelley Turner

Sport for development (SFD) is often used to engage young people in programs that target a range of issues, such as disengagement or marginalization. However, if designed inappropriately, SFD can do more harm than good by reinforcing social divides or past trauma. Consequently, scholars suggest that future research should delve beyond program impacts and examine the importance of safe spaces within SFD programs. In light of this, we explored how program design, delivery, and staffing can impact the creation and maintenance of a safe space and continuity in an SFD program targeting young people and how this can change over time. Adopting an ethnographic approach, findings highlighted how safety and relational continuity was fostered via social networks, support, belonging, and external opportunities. Conversely, instability and discontinuity became an issue with staff departures and participants’ personal difficulties.