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The Strength of Community: The Role of Social Support Networks in Sport Officials’ Retention

Jacob K. Tingle, Brittany L. Jacobs, Matthew Katz, and Stacy Warner

Previous researchers have indicated that a sense of community and social support are vital to referee retention; however, little is known about the connection between specific characteristics of sports officials’ networks and retention. To better understand the sports officiating shortage, researchers explored the social support networks of 116 referees utilizing egocentric network analysis. The authors suggest that retention of sports officials depends on the interpersonal ties and network structures within which the referees are embedded. Specifically, resulting hierarchical models confirmed that retention relationships among officials are a multilevel phenomenon, and that outside communication and community were vital network characteristics that fostered retention relationships. Network size, tenure, and the officiating level also were significant when considering an official’s network and its impact on retention. Areas for future research and suggestions for referee managers are presented.

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Between Profit and Purpose: Employee Responses to Financial and Social Logics in Women’s Sport

Risa F. Isard, E. Nicole Melton, Elizabeth B. Delia, and Calvin Nite

Recent market growth in women’s sport has happened as fans increasingly support brands that embrace social issues, suggesting that women’s sport houses multiple logics (financial and social) that may be compatible. The purpose of this study is to explore employees’ perspectives of the logics in women’s sport and how these influence their workplace experiences. Using a case study design, we interviewed 15 women’s sport employees. We observed that they navigate both financial and social logics, which they see as compatible. This understanding of a complementary relationship has both behavioral (e.g., collaboration) and emotional (e.g., collective anxiety) consequences for employees. Notably, collective anxiety is simultaneously associated with negative effects and positive coping mechanisms, demonstrating its complexity in shaping individuals’ actions. This research advances understanding of how employees respond to multiple logics and the effects of this process. Insights from this study can help women’s sport managers better support workers.

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State-Level Politics and Bias Predict Transgender Athlete Bans

Kelsey M. Garrison and George B. Cunningham

The purpose of this study was to examine the relationships among the political leanings of a state, the state-level implicit and explicit biases against transgender people, and the presence of transgender athlete bans. The authors collected archival data from 2021 and 2022 bans in the United States to examine the hypotheses. As of 2022, 18 states had passed laws barring transgender athletes from participating in sports. Results from regression analyses showed that conservative-leaning states were more likely to enact transgender athlete bans than their peers. The relationship was mediated by explicit (but not implicit) bias toward transgender people. The findings have implications for research and practice. Sport managers have an opportunity to create transgender-inclusive workplaces for staff, coaches, and other managers. They should also work with campus counselors and other staff to ensure that transgender athletes have ample support.

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Organizational-Level Factors That Influence Women Coaches’ Experiences

James P. Strode, Heidi M. Parker, and Shannon Kerwin

The purpose of this study was to identify the supports and barriers women coaches experience at the organizational level and to determine how those factors influence interpersonal- and individual-level factors within their coaching context. Nine women who coach high school basketball were interviewed at two time points and asked to reflect on organizational-level factors relative to their coaching position and how those factors have shaped their coaching experience over time. Based on the results of the interviews, two organizational-level factors were identified as barriers for participants: navigating inconsistent hiring practices and hypermasculine culture within school sport. The participants described organizational-level factors as influencing their experiences at both interpersonal (e.g., support from mentors, barriers related to the athletic directors) and individual (e.g., age, experience, sexual orientation) levels. The findings provide empirical support for specific organizational factors that contribute to interpersonal- and individual-level coach experiences. The power structures embedded in these associations are defined and discussed.

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Entrepreneurial Bricolage and Innovation in Sport for Development and Peace Organizations

Fredrik O. Andersson, Per G. Svensson, and Lewis Faulk

Many sport for development and peace organizations operate with limited resources and in low-resource environments. While resource constraints impede some organizations, others demonstrate an adaptive behavior, known as bricolage, to repurpose and flexibly engage existing resources to accomplish their goals. In this study, we ask what distinguishes organizations that engage in bricolage from others. We specifically test whether sport for development and peace nonprofits that engage in bricolage are more likely to engage in social innovation, and we test those findings against organizational size, age, and characteristics of organizations’ operating environments. Using data from an international sample of 161 sport for development and peace nonprofits, we find that organizations employing greater levels of bricolage also demonstrate significantly higher levels of innovation, except for process-focused innovations, which are significantly associated with environmental turbulence. Organizational size itself does not appear to influence the use of bricolage or the relationship between bricolage and innovation.

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Volume 16 (2023): Issue 4 (Dec 2023)

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Anti-Racism in Sport Organizations

Krystina B. Sarff

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Authenticity Negotiation: How Elite Athletes (Re)Present Themselves as Personal Brands

Nataliya Bredikhina, Thilo Kunkel, and Ravi Kudesia

Projecting authenticity is crucial for athletes engaged in personal branding. Prior scholarship has emphasized the “frontstage” of authenticity: what tactics athletes use to present themselves and how audiences perceive such tactics. But it has not yet examined the “backstage”: why athletes pursue authenticity and the strategic considerations involved in such ongoing self-presentations. Using a constructivist grounded theory that draws on interviews with 30 elite athletes engaged in personal branding, we unpack these backstage processes, which are not straightforward but entail an ongoing cycle of authenticity negotiation. Our model of authenticity negotiation identifies conflicting authenticity demands and constraints imposed by various actors, which athletes attempt to resolve over time using a range of authenticity management tactics. By modeling the backstage processes in authenticity negotiation, our research integrates, contextualizes, and suggests extensions to the existing frontstage work on authenticity. It offers guidance to athletes and practitioners on managing athlete brands and stakeholder collaborations.

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The Olympics That Never Happened: Denver ‘76 and the Politics of Growth

Craig M. Crow

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An xG of Their Own: Using Expected Goals to Explore the Analytical Shortcomings of Misapplied Gender Schemas in Football

Sachin Narayanan and N. David Pifer

Although professional women’s football has benefitted from recent surges in popularity, challenges to progress and distinguish the sport persist. The gender-schema theory explains the tendency for individuals to hold female sports to male standards, a phenomenon that leads to negative outcomes in areas such as media representation and consumer perception. One area in which schemas have a more discreet effect is player and team performance, where the assumption that technical metrics developed in men’s football are transferable to women’s football remains unfounded. Using expected goals, a metric synonymous with the probability of a shot being scored, we highlight how variables important to shot quality and shot execution differ across gender, and how attempts to evaluate female footballers with models built on men’s data increase estimation errors. These results have theoretical and practical implications for the role they play in reframing schemas and improving the methods used to evaluate performance in women’s sports.