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Gashaw Abeza and Jimmy Sanderson

A key feature of a robust academic discipline is that its homegrown theories and investing in theory contribute to building good research. In the field of sport and social media research, the rigorous utilization of theory is one of the areas where the field is still facing “disciplinary pain.” In fact, the unique features of social media provide researchers in the sport research community with a valuable opportunity for proposing, testing, applying, critiquing, comparing, integrating, and expanding theories. In this commentary, the authors, based on their own experience (as researchers, readers, and reviewers of social media in sport), contend that reference resources are lacking on this topic to help young (or existing) researchers locate appropriate theories for their research. Hence, this work identifies, documents, and discusses the theories used, advanced, and developed in social media research for sport studies. Furthermore, a compilation is brought together of different theories from various disciplines that researchers in this community may consider for their future work.

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Katherine Sveinson and Kim Toffoletti

Sport organizations are developing family-friendly spectator initiatives to boost engagement and sales to parents and children. While the number of women sport fans continues to grow, research has yet to explore how women, as mothers and fans, experience fandom. Informed by a maternal geography framework, this study explores women’s understanding of what does or does not make game-day experiences family-friendly by presenting the accounts of 15 women from North America and Australia who are sport fans and mothers. Interpretive phenomenological analysis is utilized to investigate how mothering as a spatially informed care practice shapes the perspectives of what constitutes a family-friendly sport spectating experience. Findings identify key components of the physical, structural, and social environments of women’s experiences of family-friendly sport fandom, as well as exposing that what is presumed to be family-friendly is not the same as mother-friendly.

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Jonathan A. Jensen, Lane Wakefield, and Brian Walkup

Numerous studies have investigated the influence of sponsors on the sport organizations with whom they partner. However, rather than simply assessing the impact of a new, incremental sponsor, which should result in a net positive for the sponsored organization, we quantify and isolate the effect of resources provided upon the switch of one sponsor to another. Furthermore, the resource-based view of the firm is utilized as a theoretical lens to understand the effects of these resources on demand, the ability to recruit human capital, and organizational performance. In Study 1, we analyze 15 years of data from 98 sponsorship agreements, finding that switches provide additional resources, but do not positively impact demand, recruiting, or performance, even in subsequent years. In Study 2, we find that the financial commitment necessary to acquire a sponsorship from a competitor does not result in a corresponding increase in shareholder value for the sponsoring firm.

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Pamela Wicker, Katie E. Misener, Lisa A. Kihl, and Graham Cuskelly

This study develops and tests a measure for perceived vulnerability to occupational fraud and examines the relationship between organizational capacity and perceived vulnerability to fraud in community sport organizations. Drawing on the opportunity dimension of fraud triangle theory and the concept of organizational capacity, the study identifies a number of risk and protection factors for vulnerability to fraud. Board members of community sport organizations in Australia, Germany, and North America were surveyed (n = 1,256). The results offer a reliable and valid scale assessing vulnerability to fraud in community sport organizations consisting of procedural and financial dimensions. The regression analyses indicate a set of risk factors for vulnerability to fraud, including the presence of paid staff, high annual and unbalanced budgets, and owning sport facilities. Protection factors include strategic planning, relationships with other institutions, and trust within the board. This knowledge can be used to design antifraud education and training resources.

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Changwook Kim, Jinwon Kim, Jeoung Hak Lee, and Yuhei Inoue

This study aims to empirically investigate how sport media consumption influences the relationships among the spatially explicit risks of COVID-19, resilience, and positive and negative affect, considering social class. To achieve this, we employed an integrated approach using spatial and aspatial analyses. The findings indicated that the negative effects of the spatially explicit risks of COVID-19 on resilience are mitigated by sport media consumption. In turn, an increased level of resilience enhances positive affect and reduces negative affect. Moreover, consumers in the upper class showed a more pronounced resilience process through sport media consumption than those in the lower class. This study contributes to the knowledge regarding the sport−resilience association by identifying the moderating effect of sport media consumption within social classes and addressing the spatially explicit risks of COVID-19. The present findings provide a basis for sport-based resilience strategies in times of adversity.

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Sarah M. Brown, Natasha T. Brison, Gregg Bennett, and Katie M. Brown

U.S. professional athletes increasingly have engaged in athlete activism. Such actions have elicited a wide range of responses from sport fans, calling into question whether an athlete’s activism can impact their brand image. This research explored whether attitudes toward athlete activism, activism message, activism communication style, or fan identification level affect an activist athlete’s brand image. This research utilized a 2 × 2 experimental design of activism type (safe vs. risky) and activism effort (high vs. low). A focus group determined both activism effort and activism type. Activism type did not significantly affect fans’ perception of athlete brand image, but perceived athlete attractiveness decreased when the athlete engaged in risky activism. Individuals’ attitudes toward athlete activism significantly influenced their perception of an activist athlete’s brand image. This paper fulfills an identified need to understand the effects of athlete activism on the athlete’s own brand.

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Andre M. Andrijiw and F. Michelle Richardson

With few exceptions, researchers have seldom explored the experiences of any female sport fan who may be identified as a member of a racial minority. Given related calls for further research, an examination into the lived experiences of ice hockey fans who identify as Black and female was undertaken. Interviews with 18 such fans revealed that the sport and its fandom were akin to ‘White spaces’: therein, participants were keenly aware of their minoritized place; subject to racial and gender stereotyping and discrimination; and prone to experiencing exclusion and trepidation. Conversely, interactions with the Black Girl Hockey Club, an organization devoted to making ice hockey more diverse and accessible, provoked feelings of belongingness and validation; and afforded a means through which interviewees could deepen their engagement with the sport. The research participants’ lived experiences ultimately point to the need for organizations and managers to construct more inclusive spaces.

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Ricardo Cayolla

The sport industry has an enormous influence on today’s society, and the various media platforms and stakeholders have a considerable share of that influence. Sport communication has an essential part in that impact. The strong identification consumers create and develop with sports brands has a huge meaning in their lives. In the sphere of consumer neuroscience, there are few studies on the sport industry. This commentary launches possible research ideas, namely about the importance of brand strength in consumers’ minds, as well as the true impact that consumer identification (i.e., fan identity) has on the sport industry.

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Joshua R. Jackson, Emily J. Dirks, and Andrew C. Billings

Michael Phelps was one of the first athletes to openly struggle with attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder, anxiety, and depression while still competing. During his career, his perceived identity was tied to his status as an athlete. In retirement, his identity shifted to that of a mental health advocate. This study examines the word choice of newspaper articles on the topic of Phelps and mental health using both social identity and framing theories. Mentions of suicide and seeking help, along with the descriptions of specific types of mental illness and perceived identity assigned to Phelps, were compared between two time periods. Results showed that during Phelps’s career, articles were much more likely to discuss his attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder diagnosis and not as likely to discuss suicide, seeking help, and depression. After his retirement, articles were more likely to identify Phelps as an advocate and less likely to focus on him as a celebrity.

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Yannick Kluch, Raquel Wright-Mair, Nicholas Swim, and Robert Turick

The emergence of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) professionals (i.e., staff with DEI-specific responsibilities) is a fairly recent phenomenon, and research to date has rarely examined the experiences of these DEI administrators despite the fact they are often solely charged with driving DEI within and beyond their department. Utilizing Ahmed’s diversity work framework, this study draws from semistructured interviews with 23 athletic administrators to identify barriers to efforts for driving DEI action in the context of intercollegiate athletics. Five higher-order themes were identified in the data, representing barriers to effective DEI work: (a) structural barriers, (b) cultural barriers, (c) conceptual barriers, (d) emotional barriers, and (e) social/relational barriers. Findings indicate that DEI athletics professionals perceive barriers on multiple levels, from personal levels (emotional and social/relational barriers) to those of a systemic nature (structural, cultural, and conceptual barriers). Limitations, directions for future research, and implications for praxis are discussed.