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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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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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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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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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Cassandra Coble

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Zack J. Damon, Sarah Leberman, Janelle E. Wells, Laura Burton, Lesley Ferkins, Jim Weese, and Jon Welty Peachey

Hibbert et al.’s relationally reflexive practice framework guided the authors to develop a new sport leadership generative partnership model emphasizing privileging practice and the sport sector as it relates to researching, teaching, and practicing sport leadership. The 2019 North American Society for Sport Management symposium on sport leadership, titled “The Changing Face of Leadership Within Sport: What Does the Future Hold?” acted as a springboard for deep, reflexive conversations among the authors. Through the development of our model, we purposely highlight the process of a relationally reflexive journey making sense of our lived experiences, engaging with learnings from the symposium, and arguing that sport leadership and followership research and teaching ultimately should be about improving the sport sector within specific cultural contexts. We offer critically conscious considerations for privileging and embedding practice as part of sport management teaching, research, and service.

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Olan K.M. Scott, Bo (Norman) Li, and Stephen Mighton

This study examined differences in the Seven Network’s primetime coverage of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games on all of its channels. Over 102 hr of total coverage was analyzed for clock time, name mentions, and the descriptions of athletes by announcers divided by gender. Results found that male athletes received the bulk of the clock time; 13 of the top 20 most-mentioned athletes were men. There were also gender differences in the word for word descriptors of success, failure, physicality, and personality. From a theoretical perspective, results found the framing of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympic Games to favor male Olympians. The top three sports that were broadcast featuring women were ice hockey, freestyle skiing, and snowboarding, which differs from other studies in this line of scholarship, so differences in the sports covered in the Australian context provides a unique context to study the Winter Olympics. Theoretical and practical implications are provided.

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June Won and J. Lucy Lee

The purpose of this study was to: (a) investigate the actual positions in digital communications; (b) assess the relationship between position-congruity among intended positions (i.e., how a firm desires to be perceived by consumers), actual brand positions, and perceived brand positions (i.e., the perceptions that customers have in their minds); and (c) understand the role of actual positioning (AP) in the positioning process. Multiple methods (one-on-one and focus group interviews, content analysis) were applied to analyze positions. Brand managers, golf consumers, and digital advertisements in Golf Digest magazine were sampled. Content analysis, frequencies and percentages, percentage difference, and regression analysis were performed for all positions for each research brand. The results revealed that: (a) tangibility-based positions (88.5%: great quality, innovation) outnumbered intangibility-based ones (11.5%: tour performance, tradition) in digital AP, (b) there was no positive correlation between the degree of congruence between intended and AP and the degree of congruence between intended and perceived positioning, and (c) the AP mediated between intended and perceived positioning in the brand positioning model. The study provides empirical evidence for the mediating role of AP and suggests modifications to the previous positioning process.

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Blake L. Price, Gene L. Farren, Jennifer A. Stoll, Andrew Goldsmith, Michael Carroll, and Christina Martin

Social media use by student-athletes has become a topic of concern for interscholastic athletic directors. The recent Mahanoy Area School District v. B.L. Supreme Court case highlighted how student speech has evolved in the digital age. This study explored how Texas interscholastic athletic directors view social media policy implementation and the effect it has on student-athlete behavior. Semistructured interviews were conducted with 13 athletic directors across all six University Interscholastic League enrollment classifications. Analysis revealed that athletic directors do have legal concerns when restricting online off-campus speech but see a need for promoting positive social media use by their student-athletes. The results suggest high school athletic departments must update their policies frequently to ensure that the information relayed to student-athletes is current, relevant, and based on recent case law.