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Volume 38 (2024): Issue 3 (May 2024)

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Soccer’s Neoliberal Pitch: The Sport’s Power, Profit, and Discursive Politics

Luke Mashburn

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A Case Study of Marcus Rashford: The People’s Champion, a “National Treasure,” and an Inspirational Personal Brand

John Vincent, John Harris, John S. Hill, and Melvin Lewis

This case study examined the English soccer player Marcus Rashford’s personal brand and illustrates the transformational difference celebrity athletes can make through social activism and advocacy for philanthropic causes through their skillful use of social media. It employed a textual analysis methodology and drew conceptual insights from the revised Model of Athlete Brand Image to chronicle how Rashford’s social activism and philanthropy resonated with his fans, followers, and the public on social media. His authentic social activism and philanthropic advocacy for disadvantaged and vulnerable children gave the nation a “feel-good” story during the COVID-19 crisis and enhanced his personal brand image. This case study recommends that future analyses of celebrity athlete personal brands should consider including three new categories in the marketable life section of the revised Model of Athlete Brand Image: social activism, cobranding partnerships, and awards and honors.

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Increasing Sport Fans’ Receptivity to Sustainability Messaging Through the Enhancement of Brand Authenticity

Chanwook Do, Minjung Kim, Brian P. McCullough, Han Soo Kim, and Hyun-Woo Lee

Brand authenticity is a crucial concept in determining a continuing relationship between a team and its fans. To better understand brand authenticity in the sport industry, this study explored how professional sport teams’ brand authenticity can be enhanced by its antecedents and what is the role of brand authenticity on fan loyalty, ultimately enhancing receptivity to environmental sustainability messaging. A total of 349 fans of the National Football League participated in an online survey. This research employed structural equation modeling to examine the relationships among the eight main constructs in the hypothesized research model. The results indicated that the five predictors positively influenced the team’s brand authenticity. Furthermore, enhanced brand authenticity impacted fan loyalty, while receptivity to environmental sustainability messaging was affected by fan loyalty and environmental sustainability attitude. The findings demonstrate how sport organizations can increase fans’ receptivity to environmental sustainability messaging through fans’ perceived brand authenticity and loyalty.

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Tackling International Markets: Bicultural Brand Positioning of Sport Leagues in Foreign Countries

Christian Weisskopf and Sebastian Uhrich

As sport league brands have increasingly extended their marketing activities into foreign countries, international brand positioning has become a relevant research topic. In this research, we introduce and examine the concept of bicultural brand positioning, an approach that combines a sport league’s connection to its home country with target-country associations. We integrate bicultural identity theory with the literature on brand benefits to propose two types of bicultural brand positioning: functional versus symbolic. Three experiments, using the National Football League and German satellite fans as the empirical context, provide evidence that bicultural brand positioning incorporating functional (vs. symbolic) benefits for the satellite fans increases bicultural brand image integration, defined as the perceived compatibility of combining the two country cultures, and has positive indirect effects on intentions to use the brand and positive word of mouth. These effects are driven by increased perceptions of cultural authenticity of the brand and brand convenience.

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Front Office Fantasies: The Rise of Managerial Sports Media

Luke L. Mao

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Tracing Gender Allyship and the Role of Awareness in Addressing the Gender Leadership Gap in Sport Organizations

Caroline Heffernan and Lisa A. Kihl

An extensive literature base has investigated women’s underrepresentation in decision-making positions with sport organizations, yet women’s access to these positions remains limited. Diversification strategies, based on distributive justice, have failed to create further opportunities. A new approach is needed to address this latent issue. The concept of gender allyship is presented to address the limitations of distributive justice paradigms that involves men and women to work as members of a coalition to improve gender equity in sport organizations. Utilizing grounded theory, this paper presents the core category of awareness and related subcategories self-awareness, organizational awareness, and industry awareness, as a means of informing the performance of gender allyship. The findings provide interesting theoretical and empirical implications for understanding the development of awareness, its subcategories, and how it contributes to change.

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Erratum. A Typology of Circular Sport Business Models: Enabling Sustainable Value Co-Creation in the Sport Industry

Journal of Sport Management

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“If This Is What Working in Sports Is, I Want Absolutely No Part of It”: Women’s Experiences With Sexual Harassment in Sport Organizations

Elizabeth Taylor, Katherine Sveinson, and Laura Burton

There is a plethora of recent examples from the sport industry that situate sport organizations as contributing to sexual violence against women (e.g., Phoenix Suns, Nike). Though research has shown that these issues exist in sport, little work has focused on the impacts of gender-based violence and sexual harassment. Therefore, utilizing gender regimes as our conceptual framework, we explored how experiences of gender-based violence and sexual harassment within sport organizations work to perpetuate the gender inequality in sport workplaces. Findings illustrate the influence of a multilevel relationship to the gender-based violence and sexual harassment experienced by women is impacted by the presence of gender regimes and use of containment strategies to conceal this abuse. Thus, we argue that institutional-level failures to protect women represent organizational success, which reinforces gender regimes and the purposeful containment of these incidents maintains the gender/power hierarchy.

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Examining Audiences’ Information-Seeking Behavior Surrounding the Super Bowl and Sex Trafficking: Insights From Google Trends Data

Wenche Wang, Stacy-Lynn Sant, and Elizabeth King

Sex trafficking is a prominent human rights issue that has been increasingly associated with the hosting of large-scale sport events. Despite insufficient evidence demonstrating a causal or correlative link, event stakeholders have implemented antitrafficking efforts in attempts to prevent and promote awareness of sex trafficking. Using Google Trends data to measure audiences’ information-seeking behavior online and Twitter data as a proxy for antitrafficking efforts on social media, we employed a difference-in-differences approach to estimate the change in online demand for sex-trafficking information among the residents of Miami-Dade, the host city of Super Bowl LIV (54). Findings highlight an increase in the online demand for sex-trafficking information in the host city during and after the event. This increased demand attributed to the Super Bowl may offer support for host communities utilizing sport events to promote awareness of pressing social issues.