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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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Strengthening Whole-of-School Physical Activity Models to Promote Physical Literacy: Moving Beyond a Component Approach

Paul Rukavina and Patricia Gremillion-Burdge

Whole-of-school approaches to physical activity and health promotion have the potential to promote physical literacy. However, for a variety of reasons there has not been widespread adoption of component whole-of-school frameworks to guide schools, such as the Comprehensive School Physical Activity Program. We argue that component frameworks have shortcomings and do not necessarily assist or support schools to take an approach that is consistent with how successful whole-of-school models or programs are created and built over time. In this paper, we argue that we need to apply guidance that resonates with stakeholders and stimulates schools to design their own unique whole-of-school physical activity model to provide equitable programming opportunities. We also present an argument on the need to incorporate improvement science and the use of social–ecological models to investigate the efficacy of this guidance model.

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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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BLinG-Health: A Peer-Led Physical Activity Program for Black Adolescent Girls—A Pilot Study

Tara B. Blackshear and Taylor Baucum

Background: Culturally relevant approaches that address low physical activity rates among Black girls are increasing, yet opportunities to engage in physical activity (PA) remain minimal. Coupled with deficit approaches to school-based PA programming, positioning Black adolescent girls as PA leaders is missing from practice. BLinG-Health aims to develop peer leaders to participate in and deliver group fitness sessions in an after-school PA program. Methods: Black adolescent girls engaged in a culturally relevant, 8-week pretest and posttest quasi-experimental pilot study examining the impact of a peer-led school-based PA intervention program in a Baltimore, Maryland, public school. After peer leaders engaged in a 12-hr fitness education, training, and certification program using the Interactive Fitness Trainers of America’s Tabata group fitness instruction and certification series, peer leaders led classmates in group fitness 2–3 days a week for 8 weeks. Peer leaders and participants completed two assessment rounds at baseline and Week 9, including height and weight, to compute body mass index, waist circumference, hip circumference, hip-to-waist ratio, a 12-min run/walk, and push-up test. Results: Participants (n = 7; M age = 16.43 years) significantly improved in cardiovascular endurance (p = .025) and muscular endurance (p = .013) with modest, nonsignificant changes in anthropometric measures. Discussion: Challenging deficit narratives on Black girls’ PA engagement, participants consistently attended weekly group fitness sessions and improved cardiovascular and muscular fitness. Empowering Black adolescent girls to lead group fitness sessions among peers may enhance PA engagement. Schools should consider culturally relevant programming to increase Black girls’ opportunities to engage in PA.

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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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Evaluating Change in Body Composition and Impact of Menarche Across a Competitive Season in Elite Collegiate Gymnasts

Sam R. Moore, Hannah E. Cabre, Amanda N. Gordon, and Abbie E. Smith-Ryan

The purpose of this study was to evaluate change in bone mineral density (BMD), BMD percentile (BMDp), lean mass (LM), fat-free mass index, body fat percentage (BF%), and muscle size (mCSA) and quality (EI) in collegiate female gymnasts over a competitive season and characterize the impact of menarche on changes. Twenty gymnasts completed a validated survey to assess age of menarche. Body composition was assessed via whole-body dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry scans at pre- and postseason. mCSA and EI were determined from a panoramic ultrasound scan of the vastus lateralis. Pre- to postseason changes were evaluated using paired sample t tests, and strength of relationships between were analyzed via bivariate correlations and linear regression. Significant losses in body fat percentage (Δ -1.1 ± 1.9%; p = .022) and EI (Δ -5.0 ± 5.8 a.u.; p = .002) were observed. No significant changes were observed in BMDp, mCSA, BMD, LM, or fat-free mass index (p = .310–.869). Age of menarche (15.4 ± 1.5 years) was negatively correlated with Δ BMDp (r = −.454; p = .044) and Δ mCSA (r = −.658; p = .002), explaining 21% and 43% of variation in Δ BMDp and Δ mCSA, respectively. Positive outcomes of gymnastics training, such as gains in LM and mCSA, may be attenuated by delayed menarche, suggested by increased EI and decreased body fat percentage, despite no changes in mCSA or overall LM. These findings may indicate a higher priority of fat utilization within the muscle over muscle and bone growth. Considering menarche as a significant predictor for Δ mCSA, this lack of increase (despite improved EI), may signify increased injury risk resulting from team-specific training style or insufficient energy intake to support appropriate muscle growth.