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Thilo Kunkel, Rui Biscaia, Akiko Arai and Kwame Agyemang

This research explored the role of athlete on- and off-field brand image on consumer commitment toward the athlete and associated team, preference by the athlete’s sponsor, and the mediating effect of consumers’ self-brand connection on these relationships. Data were collected from fans of soccer players through a cross-sectional survey promoted on social media platforms. A partial least squares structural equation model examined the direct effects of both athlete brand dimensions on athlete commitment, team commitment, and athlete sponsor preference, and the indirect effects mediated via self-brand connection. The results indicate that an athlete’s on-field image is significantly related to athlete sponsor preference, while the off-field image influences athlete commitment and team commitment. Self-brand connection is influenced by athlete off-field image and mediates the relationship between off-field image and athlete commitment. This study contributes to a better understanding of how to manage athlete brands and linkages between fans, athletes, and associated entities.

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Matthew Katz, Bob Heere and E. Nicole Melton

The purpose of this study is to utilize egocentric network analysis to predict repurchase behaviors for college football season-ticket holders. Using a research approach grounded in network theory, we included the relational and behavioral characteristics of sport fans in a binomial regression model to predict renewal decisions among college football season-ticket holders. More specifically, we developed a model that incorporates the egocentric network variables, past behavior, and behavioral intentions to empirically test which consumer characteristics predict future behavior. Building on previous research emphasizing the role of socializing agents and social connections in sport fan consumption, through the use of egocentric network analysis, we examined the effects of social structure and social context on repurchasing decisions. Moreover, the present study is positioned within the larger discourse on season-ticket holders, as we aimed to add a network theory perspective to the existing research on season-ticket holder churn and renewal.

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Sungho Cho, J. Lucy Lee, June Won and Jong Kwan (Jake) Lee

Under the federal trademark law, owners of famous sport trademarks may bring legal claims against unauthorized users of their marks under the infringement and dilution theory. Although the rationale of trademark infringement has been supported by various notions of consumer psychology and law and economics, the theory of dilution has been criticized for the lack of empirical support. This study investigated whether the junior use of major sport trademarks would have dilutive effects on the senior marks in financial terms. The study employed the contingent valuation method, a technique designed to estimate the economic values of nonpecuniary assets such as trademarks. A total of 140 subjects were exposed to dilutive information while they purchased sport brand merchandise. A series of pre- and posttests revealed that moderately famous sport trademarks suffered dilutive harm from junior use, whereas exceptionally famous marks were immune to the dilutive effects. Theoretical and practical implications were discussed.

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Shaun M. Anderson and Matthew M. Martin

In 1989, former Major League Baseball (MLB) player John Young created the Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities (RBI) program as a way to increase the number of African Americans becoming involved with the game of baseball. Along with this program, MLB created the Urban Youth Academy (UYA) in 2006 as a way to not only teach the game but also provide life skills to youth and adults. However, MLB continues to struggle in developing relationships and increasing involvement of African Americans. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to understand why African Americans are not interested or involved in MLB. Corporate social responsibility and relationship management theory were used as the frameworks for this study. Eleven RBI and UYA program managers were interviewed to determine the challenges they face in getting African Americans involved in the game. Results from this study indicated four themes regarding MLB program managers’ challenges: inconsistency in measuring success, lack of parental involvement, and lack of trust. A discussion, implications, and future directions are addressed.

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Lauren E. Brown

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Michael L. Naraine

The sport industry has experienced significant technological change in its environment with the recent rise of Bitcoin and its underlying foundation, blockchain. Accordingly, the purpose of this paper is to introduce and conceptually ground blockchain in sport and discuss the implications and value proposition of blockchain to the sport industry. After a brief overview of blockchain and the technology stack, the mechanism is conceptually rooted in the network paradigm, a framework already known to the academic sport community. This treatment argues that the decentralized, closed, and dense mesh network produced by blockchain technology is beneficial to the sport industry. Notably, the article identifies blockchain’s capacity to facilitate new sources of revenue and improve data management and suggests that sport management and communication consider the value of blockchain and the technology stack as the digital footprint in the industry intensifies and becomes increasingly complex.

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Sara Santarossa, Paige Coyne, Sarah J. Woodruff and Craig G. Greenham

ESPN The Magazine’s The Body Issue positions itself as an inclusive and sport-focused publication. With a focus on gender, the purpose of the current study was to examine the online thoughts and opinions that resulted from #BodyIssue on Instagram. In addition, the Instagram posting activity of ESPN (@espn) and espnW (@espnw) as it pertained to the promotion of the featured athletes and the Instagram accounts of the athletes featured in the 2016 Body Issue were explored. A text and network analysis surrounding #BodyIssue for both male and female Body Issue athletes was conducted using the Netlytic program. Manual Instagram tracking of @espn and @espnw, as well as the featured athletes’ accounts, was performed. In its entirety, this study was conducted between June 29 and July 13, 2016. Online thoughts and opinions, although differing by gender, were generally positive, with a large focus on physical form, not sexuality and/or nudity. Furthermore, a gender disparity was reported in regard to ESPN Inc.’s Instagram posting activity, with @espn choosing only to celebrate its male Body Issue athletes on Instagram and @espnw only posting about 2 of the 9 female athletes. There was a significant difference in the number of Instagram followers for the female athletes 1 wk prior to the online release of the issue (M = 105,767.78, SD = 141,193.71) and 1 wk postrelease (M = 109,742.56, SD = 142,890.11), t(8) = −4.29, p = .003. Further analyses of other Body Issue editions is needed to continue investigating this gender disparity and its potential impact on athletes, sport culture, and social attitudes.

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Per G. Svensson and Richard Loat

The need for new and evidence-based solutions for mobilizing stakeholders and resources in sport for development and peace (SDP) is increasingly emphasized in a number of recent policy documents including the Kazan Action Plan and a set of publications by the Commonwealth Secretariat. This paper provides a response to these calls for the development of mechanisms and toolkits to support multistakeholder collaboration. We draw on our combined experiences in SDP research, practice, and funding to identify how multistakeholder initiatives in SDP can be better leveraged. Specifically, we discuss how Brown’s (2015) five elements of bridge-building for social transformation, namely, compelling and locally relevant goals; cross-boundary leadership systems; generative theories of change; systems enabling and protecting innovation; and investment in institutionalizing change, apply in the SDP domain. The practical framework we have outlined provides a common ground and starting point to build upon for generating improved synergies among a multitude of stakeholders.