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Ted M. Butryn, Matthew A. Masucci and jay a. johnson

While most professional sports quickly postponed their seasons due to COVID-19, the Ultimate Fighting Championship (UFC) took a decidedly contrarian approach as president Dana White continued to promote UFC 249 until pressure forced its cancelation on April 9, 2020. Drawing from work on sport and spectacle and the media as well as sport management scholarship on crisis management, the authors provide a commentary on the mediated spectacle of White’s (eventually successful) efforts to promote UFC 249 during the pandemic. Drawing from numerous media sources, they discuss how White sought to control the public narrative in several key ways. The authors further explore how White decried the seriousness of the pandemic while centralizing the UFC’s place in the U.S. sporting landscape. Finally, the authors discuss how White’s efforts might both help and hinder the UFC as a mainstream sports promotion.

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Branden Buehler

The American sports television industry has scrambled to adjust to the loss of live sporting events in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic—a scramble clearly evidenced in programming schedules suddenly filled with replays of older event telecasts. However, rather than focusing on the apparent novelty of this type of substitute coronavirus programming, this article, instead, argues that the loss of live sporting events represents the amplification of a problem that television networks have already been grappling with for years: how to fill an ever greater number of outlets with sufficient year-round programming given a finite number of live events. With that in mind, this article proposes that many of the programming strategies that networks have turned to in the midst of the pandemic, including the expanded coverage of transactions (e.g., coverage of National Football League free agency) and the increased scheduling of documentaries (e.g., The Last Dance), have been familiar extensions of previously established alternative programming solutions.

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Alexander L. Curry and Tiara Good

The 2020 coronavirus outbreak led Major League Baseball to cancel spring training and postpone the start of the regular season. Although baseball stopped, reporters continued to write about baseball, and fans continued to talk about baseball. But with no games being played, what were they writing and talking about? More than a simple examination of what these two groups are saying, the authors also examined why their focus has turned to particular topics and themes. Through a textual analysis of Entertainment and Sports Programming Network (ESPN) baseball headlines and Reddit posts, the authors found writers jolted out of their routines, yet still framing many of their 2020 stories to focus on the actions of players. For fans, they uncovered conversations that, in many ways, read like friends mourning the loss of a loved one.

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David C. Kingston and Stacey M. Acker

A musculoskeletal model of the right lower limb was developed to estimate 3D tibial contact forces in high knee flexion postures. This model determined the effect of intersegmental contact between thigh–calf and heel–gluteal structures on tibial contact forces. This model includes direct tracking and 3D orientation of intersegmental contact force, femoral translations from in vivo studies, wrapping of knee extensor musculature, and a novel optimization constraint for multielement muscle groups. Model verification consisted of calculating the error between estimated tibial compressive forces and direct measurements from the Grand Knee Challenge during movements to ∼120° of knee flexion as no high knee flexion data are available. Tibial compression estimates strongly fit implant data during walking (R 2 = .83) and squatting (R 2 = .93) with a root mean squared difference of .47 and .16 body weight, respectively. Incorporating intersegmental contact significantly reduced model estimates of peak tibial anterior–posterior shear and increased peak medial–lateral shear during the static phase of high knee flexion movements by an average of .33 and .07 body weight, respectively. This model supports prior work in that intersegmental contact is a critical parameter when estimating tibial contact forces in high knee flexion movements across a range of culturally and occupationally relevant postures.

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Seong-won Han, Andrew Sawatsky, Azim Jinha and Walter Herzog

Vastus medialis (VM) weakness is thought to alter patellar tracking, thereby changing the loading of the patellofemoral joint (PFJ), resulting in patellofemoral pain. However, it is challenging to measure VM force and weakness in human studies, nor is it possible to measure the associated mechanical changes in the PFJ. To obtain fundamental insight into VM weakness and its effects on PFJ mechanics, the authors determined PFJ loading in the presence of experimentally simulated VM weakness. Skeletally mature New Zealand White rabbits were used (n = 6), and the vastus lateralis, VM, and rectus femoris were stimulated individually through 3 custom-built nerve cuff electrodes. Muscle torque and PFJ pressure distribution were measured while activating all muscles simultaneously, or when the vastus lateralis and rectus femoris were activated, while VM was not, to simulate a quadriceps muscle strength imbalance. For a given muscular joint torque, peak pressures were greater and joint contact areas were smaller when simulating VM weakness compared with the condition where all muscles were activated simultaneously. The results in the rabbit model support that VM weakness results in altered PFJ loading, which may cause patellofemoral pain, often associated with a strength imbalance of the knee extensor muscle group.

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Elsa Kristiansen, Therese Dille and Simon Tærud Day

This commentary uses the Norwegian Football Association’s COVID-19 crisis communication strategy as an example of how federations can take an active role and use their influence to guide and be proactive in the opening of a society after a lockdown. By paying close attention to the public debate and by interviewing the federation’s communication director, the authors outlined the four phases of the strategic crisis communication—and the consequences of them in Norway. While the first consequence was the postponing of the Euro Qualifier against Serbia on March 26 for the European Championship this summer, the lockdown changed the focus quickly, and the strategy became about getting all players back on the football fields. The authors elaborated on how a major federation can (and maybe should) take a leading role by using its “voice” in the media and public and expertise to aid reopening a society after lockdown.

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William Roth Smith

The cancellations and postponements of large-scale organized sport competitions provided the first indicators of the impact that COVID-19 would have on society. During the pandemic, sport media reporting has focused on cancellations. Although not receiving as much media attention, “lifestyle sports,” such as rock climbing, parkour, BMX, kayaking, or skateboarding, were also impacted by COVID-19 in ways that differ from organized team sports. In this commentary, the author draws upon select media reports and subcultural social media posts to highlight two primary impacts of COVID-19: (a) the civic organizational challenges of limiting lifestyle sport participation and (b) the influence on the social and risk-laden experience of these sports. The article concludes by detailing lifestyle sport stakeholder communication, digital sporting communities, the use of social media for organizing lifestyle sport communities, and sport risk communication as fruitful avenues for future research in a postpandemic lifestyle sports.