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Kim Bissell, Andrew C. Billings, and Bumsoo Park

The number of people accessing the Paralympic Games is growing at a time when few television ratings rise, warranting study of the influence that exposure to Paralympic media has on viewers. This study contrasts two forms (Olympic, Paralympic) of exposure to sport competition while testing other potential moderating factors, including personal experiences with persons with disabilities, trait and state empathy, and attitude toward disability. An online experiment with a national sample of 411 subjects reveals further variables that influence empathy for Paralympic athletes and potentially contribute to stigma reduction. The most holistic finding uncovered was that personal experience with a disability was the biggest predictor of everything else. Experience with disability also served as a key moderator or media exposure.

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Antonio S. Williams, Zack P. Pedersen, and Kelly J. Brummett

The passing of basketball icon Kobe Bryant at the beginning of 2020 was devastating for many different sporting and cultural communities. However, the plethora of opportunities Bryant left his family, and the management of those entities by his estate, thereafter, shed light on a neglected area of branding research. How athletes are able to prepare their estates to continue to benefit from their name, image, and likeness, even after death, is a substantial topic in regard to the legacy that various athletes are able to establish. Through an analysis of various posthumous branding phenomena, as well as a comparison with other posthumous celebrity brands, this commentary discusses the current issues faced by athletes, such as ownership and protection. An understanding of current barriers to greater posthumous earnings will benefit how athletes and researchers alike construct and evaluate brands, respectively. Future research should address how prevalent forward thinking is to athletes’ brand building toward a successful postathletic career, as well as the current status of estate planning and brand communication by athletes and/or their brand managers.

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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.