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.
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.
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.
Tyler Ratts, Braden Norris, and Brian Mancuso
High school athletics represents a major segment of the sport industry and is regarded as an important component in youth development in the United States. With the rise of the COVID-19 pandemic, challenges emerged that forced athletic directors to provide essential information to key stakeholders, keep people safe, and identify new ways to bring events to fans. To further understand these experiences, this commentary aimed to evaluate the use of communication and technology by high school athletic directors to address challenges, develop new strategies, adapt to day-to-day changes, and manage the long-term impacts of COVID-19 on interscholastic athletics. Through in-depth interviews with athletic directors, responses demonstrated how enhanced communication with key stakeholders (i.e., athletic programs and fellow athletic directors) and a reliance on technologies (i.e., digital ticketing and online live streaming) helped these leaders successfully navigate the pandemic and develop new strategies that will persist into the future.
Jinsu Byun, Mathew Dowling, and Becca Leopkey
This study examines the governance of post-Olympic Games legacy organizations. A cross-case comparative analysis was completed by focusing on post-Games legacy organizations from three Winter Olympics (Salt Lake City 2002, Vancouver 2010, and PyeongChang 2018). Drawing on a governance framework, this research investigates the politics (stakeholder relationships), polity (institutional structures), and policy (the policy content and instruments) dimensions of governance, and explores modes of governance that facilitate collective action taken by these organizations. Data for this study included archival materials and semistructured interviews with key representatives from the relevant organizations. Three different post-Games legacy organization governance modes (public–private, interactive, and self-governance) were identified, and a conceptual model of the governance of post-Games legacy organizations is proposed. The findings have theoretical and practical implications that expand our understanding of the governance of Olympic legacy.
Information sourcing in sports journalism changes with the process of news curation on the internet. In particular, social media is an important source for sports reporters, as athletes and organizations post content on a regular basis. Although how sports journalists use social media in their daily work routines has already been investigated, there is little knowledge on how social media is used as a source in sports reporting. However, with regard to a possible copy-and-paste trend and an impeding loss of relevance of journalistic content, results pertaining to the use of social media as a source would be helpful to evaluate journalistic output. By conducting a quantitative content analysis of 3,150 online articles of three German sports news providers, this author investigated the number and patterns of social media sources in journalistic articles. The results reveal, inter alia, that social media is crucial for human interest stories on athletes.
Sabrina Castonguay and Mark Lowes
This case study analyzes the crisis response strategies used by the National Football League (NFL) in its external communications to address the concussion crisis spanning 2015–2020. The analysis focuses on describing the crisis communication strategies and tactics used by the league. Situational crisis communication theory provides the theoretical framework for analyzing the NFL’s crisis response strategies. A qualitative thematic analysis was conducted of 25 publications published by the NFL on nflcommunications.com, with findings indicating that the NFL focused on the primary crisis strategies of rebuilding and diminishing while employing tactics such as organizational change and shared responsibility. The findings revealed in this case study also highlight a discrepancy between the theoretical ground of situational crisis communication theory and the application of crisis response strategies in a real-life organizational crisis facing a professional sports league.
Vitor Sobral, Sheranne Fairley, and Danny O’Brien
Event portfolios are a useful way for destination managers to holistically manage their community’s collection of events and, through strategic integration and common objectives, more effectively produce benefits. However, regular sport events such as those played by professional sport teams in a sport league have received little attention from event portfolio managers and researchers. Understanding the value and utility of sport team event assets can inform the successful integration of these events into event portfolios. This research used qualitative methods to examine how team asset components can contribute to achieving event portfolio objectives. The results have significance for event tourism researchers and practitioners and demonstrate that contributions are largely founded on the focal professional sport league structure, which provides constant content and regular communications with key target markets. Analysis of the findings led to the development of a model on the utility of including team events in an event portfolio.
Aaron C. Mansfield, E. Nicole Melton, and Matthew Katz
Scholars have begun to explore the interplay between the multiple identities within a sport fan’s salience hierarchy, noting fandom may compete with other central roles. Researchers have also recently emphasized well-being outcomes for fans, with increasing focus on physical health. Though sport consumer behavior and health consciousness have concurrently emerged, the social psychological connection between the two is unclear. Thus, we aim to clarify this relationship. We leverage an emerging quantitative approach: polynomial regression and response surface methodology. Our findings indicate individuals who value both fandom and health consciousness (i.e., demonstrate high fan identity and health consciousness congruence) experience identity conflict, with men reporting higher levels of identity conflict than women. Thus, we contribute to literature on the potential negative sides (or challenges) of fan identity. The food and sedentarism common to fan culture appear to prompt psychological turmoil for health-conscious individuals. Fan identity may naturally integrate with other social roles, yet our results indicate fandom and health consciousness are often viewed in conflict.