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Markus Buser, Herbert Woratschek, Geoff Dickson, and Jan Schönberner

Network approaches in sport management are mainly guided by the logic of sport products, where firms produce value that is used-up by consumers. This logic neglects the collaborative nature of sport. On the contrary, the logic of value co-creation provides a perspective where actors collaborate to co-create value in sport networks. Thus, this purely conceptual research aims to examine approaches to value co-creation in sport ecosystems to offer a holistic perspective on the interconnectedness of actors and engagement platforms. Using the concepts of value co-creation, engagement platforms, and sport network approaches, this paper conceptualizes the Sport Ecosystem Logic as a general theory to promote innovative research. Comprising five fundamental premises, the Sport Ecosystem Logic explains how actors’ shared interests in sporting activities evolve into an entire sport ecosystem. The Sport Ecosystem Logic advances our understanding of actors’ resource integration on sport engagement platforms and how these platforms are interconnected in a sport ecosystem.

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Vanessa Bright, Stacy Warner, and Claire Zvosec

Athletes may be especially primed to become referees; yet, we do not know what former athletes think about this career choice. To address the worldwide referee shortage, it is important to better understand athletes’ perceptions of refereeing. From a Career Contingency Model framework, it is evident athletes’ perception would influence their decision to consider refereeing. This study’s aim was to examine athletes’ perceptions of the refereeing environment (RQ1) and identify referee recruitment barriers (RQ2). Utilizing a descriptive phenomenological approach, 23 current and former athletes took part in semistructured interviews based on their lived experience as an athlete. The participants identified the officiating environment as a high-stress environment with financial instability, while time and lack of knowledge and support were identified as recruitment barriers. The results contributed to the burgeoning line of research attempting to address the global referee shortage and provide both theoretical and practical implications for sport managers.

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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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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