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Brian E. Pruegger

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Rachel Arnold, David Fletcher and Jennifer A. Hobson

In this study, the authors interviewed Olympic athletes about their perceptions of their leaders and managers, with a particular focus on perceptions of negatively valenced and socially undesirable characteristics and their effects. The results highlight five main dark characteristics: self-focused, haughty self-belief, inauthentic, manipulative, and success-obsessed. The findings also indicate negative effects of such characteristics (viz., performance and career threats, affected confidence, pressure and anxiety, and a lack of support) and positive effects of such characteristics (viz., motivation, resilience and coping skills, opportunities, and learning and awareness). Hence, it appears that not only are leaders and managers’ personalities “different shades of grey” but also the effects they have are too. The findings are discussed in relation to previous pertinent research, and with regard to their implications for policy development and future research.

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Joyce Olushola Ogunrinde

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Evan Frederick and Ann Pegoraro

The purpose of this case study was to determine what image-repair strategies the University of Louisville employed immediately after the announcement of an FBI investigation involving multiple universities and college coaches taking bribes in order to steer high-profile recruits to certain agents. Specifically, this case study examined the image-repair strategies used on the University of Louisville’s official Facebook page and the comments made to those posts to gauge public reaction to the university’s image-repair strategies. The University of Louisville primarily employed the image-repair strategies of transcendence, bolstering, stonewalling, and a newly identified strategy referred to as rallying, or unifying and “moving beyond” the scandal. Three themes emerged from an inductive analysis of users’ comments, including support, rejection, and scandal. The high volume of support indicates that many users were receptive to the university’s attempt to reduce the offensiveness of the scandal through the use of bolstering and transcendence.

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Mark Lowes and Christopher Robillard

This scholarly commentary draws on existing sport communication literature in an exploration of social media’s role in, and impact on, sport journalism practices and the production of sport news. Of particular concern is the emergence of a form of citizen sport journalism that usurps the traditional role of sport journalists as gatekeepers of the relationship between the sports world and its multitude of audiences. It is argued that social media are providing audiences with more opportunities to create the type of mediated discourses they want to experience by eliminating the scarcity of time and space that once privileged the gatekeeping status of sport journalists. Consequently, sport reporters are becoming social-media content creators and curators while competing against spectator sport-news content creators. Whereas these changes might have a negative connotation, the authors conclude that sport coverage in digital culture offers more opportunities for journalists to step outside the confines of traditional sport journalism work routines and news-production practices.

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Bastian Popp, Chris Horbel and Claas Christian Germelmann

This study investigated social-media-based anti-sponsor-brand communities and their impacts, not only on the sponsoring brand but also on the sponsored club and the sport itself. Guided by balance theory and social identity theory, the authors conducted a qualitative study of 2 distinctive, prototypical Facebook-based anti-sponsor-brand communities of teams from the German Football League (Bundesliga). The results reveal common findings for both cases, including members’ motivation to oppose a sponsor and, at the same time, to protect the sport. However, the communities differ in terms of their members’ relationships to the club. This results in different consequences for the sponsor and club brands, as well as for other actors in the sponsorship network. To managers of clubs, sponsors, and sport-governing bodies, the authors suggest concerted strategies like image campaigns and interaction with anti-sponsor-brand communities as responses to different community motivations.

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Travis R. Bell and Karen L. Hartman

In March 2016 the highest-paid women’s athlete, Maria Sharapova, called a press conference to announce a failed drug test. Sharapova relied on the crisis communication strategy of stealing thunder to present the information to media and break the story. The authors analyze how the press conference and her strategy were portrayed in traditional and online media and how Sharapova promoted and broadcast the press conference to defend herself. Using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) software and textual analysis, the authors argue that Sharapova’s use of the stealing-thunder strategy successfully influenced media narratives about her suspension and should be considered by athletes in crisis situations.

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Elizabeth A. Taylor, Jessica L. Siegele, Allison B. Smith and Robin Hardin

Women’s participation in collegiate sport has increased dramatically since the passage of Title IX, but there has not been a corresponding increase in the percentage of women in administrative positions. Women have, however, been successful obtaining leadership positions in conference offices, as more than 30% of National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I conference commissioners were women in 2016. This research used career construction theory as a framework to explore the experiences of these women. Findings revealed that participants constantly negotiate time spent on personal and professional obligations, and relationships created in the workplace turned into organic mentorship relationships. Participants felt that there were limited amounts of sexism in the workplace, but all discussed experiencing instances of sexism, indicating a culture of gender normalcy. Women may experience increased success in leadership positions at conference offices, compared with on-campus athletic departments, due to limited direct interaction with football and donors.