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Business the NHL Way: Lessons From the Fastest Game on Ice

Farah J. Ishaq

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Serving Equality: Feminism, Media, and Women’s Sports

Kaja Poteko

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Assessing the Social Media Landscape in Sport: Evaluating the Present and Identifying Future Opportunities

Gashaw Abeza and Jimmy Sanderson

This article introduces a special issue of the International Journal of Sport Communication containing insightful commentaries by distinguished scholars in social media scholarship in sports studies. By inviting 25 scholars in the field, who contributed a total of 16 scholarly commentaries, the issue benefits from their extensive knowledge of the interplay between social media and sport. The scholarly commentaries address current trends, critique methods, challenge theories, and propose fresh approaches to understanding the impact of social media in sport. These scholars offer unique perspectives, innovative methodologies, and engaging writing that caters to a diverse readership. The articles provide valuable critiques; shed light on critical issues, controversies, and gaps in knowledge; and identify future directions for sport and social media scholarship to traverse. Importantly, the diverse perspectives presented in this issue stimulate academic dialogue and foster productive discussions within the field of social media in sport studies.

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Charting a New Path: Regulating College Athlete Name, Image and Likeness After NCAA v. Alston Through Collective Bargaining

Alicia Jessop, Thomas A. Baker III, Joanna Wall Tweedie, and John T. Holden

This study examines the remaining options for sport managers to balance the interests of college athletes and the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) in regulating college athlete name, image, and likeness (NIL). The paper is divided into six substantive sections. The first section, “Background: The NCAA’s Defense of NIL Restrictions,” provides a brief history of the NCAA’s legal defense to challenges against its NIL regulations. The second section, “U.S. Congress Is Unlikely to Regulate College Athletes’ NIL Rights,” addresses proposed federal legislation and Congress’ willingness to regulate the use of NIL by college athletes. The third section, “The Impact of O’Bannon and Alston on NCAA’s NIL Restraints,” examines controlling case law, specifically O’Bannon v. NCAA and NCAA v. Alston, and how current antitrust law precedent shapes the scope by which the NCAA can regulate college athletes’ NIL. The fourth section, “State Laws Regulating the NIL Marketplace,” addresses state legislation regulating college athlete NIL use. The fifth section, “The Applicability of Labor Law to Regulating College Athletes’ NIL,” discusses the current college athlete NIL marketplace and analyzes whether labor law presents an optimal way forward for the NCAA to regulate NIL post-Alston. The sixth section, “College Athletes’ Employee Status as a Pathway to Redefine the NCAA’s Amateurism,” concludes by examining the law’s role in regulating NIL and discussing stakeholder implications.

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The New Wave of Influencers: Examining College Athlete Identities and the Role of Homophily and Parasocial Relationships in Leveraging Name, Image, and Likeness

Yiran Su, Xuan Guo, Christine Wegner, and Thomas Baker

This article brings together scholarship on communication theory, influencer marketing, and personal branding to examine a new type of social media influencer—the college athlete influencer. Previous research in the field of sports has not specifically explored the distinct characteristics of college athletes that contribute to their effectiveness as marketing influencers. By adopting a sequential explanatory mixed-methods approach, this study provides a comprehensive understanding of the source of college athletes’ influence via social media. Quantitative results indicate that projecting an athletic identity on social media enhances the influencer’s credibility and increases the likelihood of consumers purchasing the products they endorse. Furthermore, qualitative findings indicated that the shared school identity acts as the ultimate impetus for the bond between the influencer and the consumer, which subsequently impacts the consumer’s purchasing decisions. This study provides actionable implications for schools, colleges, and brands seeking to build compelling sponsorships in the name, image, and likeness era.

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Social Media and Sport Studies (2014–2023): A Critical Review

Gashaw Abeza

Building on the foundational study conducted by Abeza et al., this work extends the investigation by critically reviewing social media research in sport studies published from June 2014 to June 2023. Methodologically, the review involved an examination of 153 original research articles from five prominent journals in sport communication and sport management, namely the International Journal of Sport Communication, Communication & Sport, Journal of Sport Management, Sport Management Review, and European Sport Management Quarterly. The study identified the research streams, platforms, theories, and research methods that have garnered attention in the social media research community. The findings reveal several key insights that contribute to the ongoing dialogue in the field, stimulating further exploration and advancing knowledge at the intersection of social media and sport.

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Special Issue Introduction: Name, Image, and Likeness and the National Collegiate Athletic Association

Steven Salaga, Natasha Brison, Joseph Cooper, Daniel Rascher, and Andy Schwarz

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Determinants of Consumers’ Adoption of Mobile Ticketing via Self-Service Technology

Sanghoon Kim, Kwangho Park, Jun-Phil Uhm, and Hyun-Woo Lee

The purpose of this study was to examine the determinants of sport consumers’ mobile ticketing adoption by the technology readiness constructs and quality–satisfaction–behavioral intentions framework. A total of 295 participants were included in the analysis. Data analysis was performed using structural equation modeling and PROCESS macro. A content analysis was conducted to provide further insight into the proposed model using open-ended responses. The findings indicate that consumers’ technology readiness alone was not a positive driver of mobile ticketing but suggest a role for technology readiness in promoting mobile ticketing, combined with service quality, satisfaction, and online ticket purchasing. The importance and originality of this study are that it confirms the sport context as a unique and effective vehicle in advancing existing knowledge of consumers’ ticket consumption behavior via self-service technology across various disciplines. Also, the findings can be used to set out recommendations for policy or practice aimed at facilitating and sustaining mobile ticketing consumption.

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Exercising Power: A Critical Examination of National Collegiate Athletic Association Discourse Related to Name, Image, and Likeness

Jonathan E. Howe, Wayne L. Black, and Willis A. Jones

Although name, image, and likeness policy officially changed on July 1, 2021, actions leading up to this policy modification provide insight into the desires and perspectives of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). Feeling pressure from individual states and federal legislators, the NCAA engaged in discussion regarding name, image, and likeness in Fall of 2019. In response to newly introduced name, image, and likeness policy changes, the NCAA listed their official statements on the Taking Actions: Name, Image and Likeness webpage. These statements (n = 10) were analyzed using critical discourse analysis methodology underpinned with a Foucaultian perspective. Using critical discourse analysis, we extrapolated three overarching themes related to power dynamics: (a) Establishing Control While Undercutting Oppositional Power, (b) Power Shifts Away from NCAA, and (c) Power Reinforcement. We conclude by discussing the importance of examining discourse within organizations and implications for policy and practice.

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Critiquing the Social Media Scholarship in Sport Studies: Looking Beyond Content and Adopting Critical Approaches

Jimmy Sanderson

Social media and sport research has produced a significant corpus of academic literature. This work has enhanced our understanding of the influence of social media in various areas of the sport industry. This work, however, has often glamorized social media and its benefits, leading to a normalization about social media that obscures its negative effects and impacts in sport. This commentary reflects on how social media and sport research has evolved over time and calls for more consideration to be given to critical approaches to social media research that look beyond analysis of social media content. The commentary specifically addresses areas of inquiry around athlete welfare and social media, social media and young athletes, and social media professionals and their work environment. The commentary aims to encourage more critical perspectives related to social media that will enhance the inclusivity of the social media and sport literature.