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

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Front Office Fantasies: The Rise of Managerial Sports Media

Michael White

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Leadership Theory and Ownership Succession in the National Football League: The Case of the Cincinnati Bengals

Daryl R. Smith and Kimberly A. Hasselfeld

The fans in Cincinnati are in an uproar. They have just witnessed another disappointing football season, the 23rd since Mike Brown became the owner of the team. Mike Brown’s tenure has been marked by historically poor performance with eight and nine straight game losing streaks to begin the season on multiple occasions. To make matters worse, this was the same number of seasons that his father and Hall of Famer, Paul Brown, owned the team. Where Paul Brown’s tenure had been marked by record ascendence to the playoffs and two Super Bowl trips, his son’s tenure was notable primarily for seasonal failure. In the minds of the fans and press, the two eras of ownership could not be more starkly different. Both are now calling for wholesale changes to the leadership or the sale of the team. Students should examine these claims and both eras of ownership using transformational and charismatic leadership theories, Collins’ Genius with a Thousand Helpers leadership model, and family-owned business succession perspectives. Do the fans and press have a right to be angry and demand a change in leadership?

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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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Women and Men Professors as Role Models and Their Effect on Academics’ Career Decisions

Lara Lesch, Katrin Scharfenkamp, and Pamela Wicker

This study investigated the perception of role model attributes of women and men sport professors, how these attributes influence the choice of academic role models, and how such role models affect career objectives. The study draws on social cognitive (career) theory. Data were collected with a quantitative online survey (N = 792) targeted at major students (under- and postgraduate [n = 515], doctoral [n = 122]), and faculty members (postdoc researchers [n = 43] and professors [n = 112]), in sport management/economics/sociology or a general sports-science program in different countries. Data were analyzed by mean comparisons and regression analyses. The results suggest that women perceive women professors as more competent and as better teachers. Women perceive more similarity with women professors, and the intention to imitate the role model seems to influence both women and men in their role model choice. Women’s interest in an academic career is positively impacted by women and men role models, while men’s career objectives are only influenced by men professors. Implications of the study are that the applied theoretical framework is appropriate for investigating both women’s and men’s role models and career objectives. Furthermore, the study helps academic policymakers and sport faculty members to understand the importance of professors as role models.

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Volume 18 (2024): Issue 1 (Apr 2024)

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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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Utilizing Specification Grading in Sport Management Classes

Kimberly L. Fierke

This paper discusses the use of specification grading in sport management courses. The process organizes assignments around grading bundles and evaluates students as either Satisfactory or Unsatisfactory in meeting each assignment. A token system is created to provide flexibility to the students. There are advantages to using specification grading. For example, it empowers students to choose their grade, reduces stress and worry over “points,” allows students the opportunity to resubmit Unsatisfactory assignments, and provides a sense of freedom to the instructor through the feedback to students. This paper explores the process of creating the specification grading method in a class and reflecting on implementation and utilization of the method in undergraduate sport management classes.