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Alex C. Gang

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Qingru Xu and Andrew C. Billings

At the World Tour Platinum China Open in 2017, 3 leading Chinese table tennis players and two coaches withdrew from the Games to protest the sudden removal of Head Coach Liu Guoliang, triggering unprecedented public uproar online. Applying gatekeeping theory, this study explored how mainland Chinese media controlled information flow during the crisis. A thematic analysis uncovered 3 primary gatekeeping behaviors: repetition, selection, and manipulation. Findings suggest that the party-state, not media institutions, was the dominant gatekeeper in mainland China. The Chinese media system and sports system were both subject to strict government control during a crisis that challenged authority.

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Stefan Walzel, Jonathan Robertson and Christos Anagnostopoulos

Professional team sports organizations (PTSOs) are highly influential in our society. They can both positively and negatively shape the public discourse around responsible norms of behavior. The purpose of this article is to describe and critically review the literature on PTSOs’ corporate social responsibility (CSR) to develop a comprehensive understanding of current and future research directions in the field. Our analysis reviewed articles on CSR within PTSOs and identified publication year; geographical dispersion; journal type; sports contexts; social issues investigated; research approaches and methods; and how CSR was conceptualized, defined, and theoretically supported. The findings indicate that CSR within PTSOs has primarily been investigated in community programs, using qualitative research methods and pragmatically conceptualizing CSR on the basis of return on investments to the organization in European and North American contexts. Our discussion provides a critical review of the literature before outlining avenues for future research and practice.

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Kwame J.A. Agyemang, Brennan K. Berg and Rhema D. Fuller

How people reflect on and discuss protests at sporting events is a relevant question of interest to sport management scholars. This article uses qualitative data to understand how institutional members reflect on and discuss a disruptive act that violates institutional rules and norms. The authors study the historical case of Tommie Smith and John Carlos’ silent protest at the 1968 Olympic Games in Mexico City. Relying on interview data from Smith and Carlos’ teammates (59) on the 1968 U.S. Olympic Team, the study highlights the connections between institutional maintenance work, institutional logics, and institutions. Specifically, the authors argue that when institutional logics align with actors’ institutional maintenance work, acts seen as disruptive to the institution will not change the institution. Identifying multiple institutional logics within the Olympic Games, the authors also find that institutional logics do not always have to be competing as suggested by much of the literature. Instead, tension may be temporarily allayed when rival logics are threatened by an action (i.e., protests) that would disrupt the institution. The authors refer to this as an institutional cease-fire and discuss their findings in relation to the preservation of institutions.

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Christopher Rumpf and Christoph Breuer

Current knowledge on the behavioral response to sponsorship is to a large degree based on field studies measuring self-reported purchase intentions. In an effort to provide more solid evidence for the impact of sponsorship-linked communication on brand choice behavior, a controlled lab study was carried out. A fictitious brand was created and virtually embedded into real sport broadcasts serving as stimulus clips. To measure the cognitive, affective, and behavioral outcomes, multiple methods such as eye tracking, a brand feeling scale, and a spontaneous choice test were applied. Compared with the control group, participants in the stimulus group were significantly more likely to choose the fictitious target brand. Moreover, the study finds that brand choice behavior is sensitive to changes in brand feelings. The results can be regarded as a next step in predicting the behavioral outcomes from sponsorship as the basis to calculate its financial return.

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Julia S. Glahn

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Yonghwan Chang, Yong Jae Ko and Brad D. Carlson

The researchers explore consumers’ emotional responses toward athlete brands by developing the associative evaluation–emotional appraisal–intention (AEI) model. The AEI postulates that unconscious (implicit attitudes) and conscious (explicit affective attitudes) levels of emotional responses systematically flow following assessments of perceived fit in athlete endorsements. Implicit attitudes were measured through the implicit association test, whereas pleasure, arousal, and pride captured explicit affective attitudes. Contrary to dominant beliefs about successful athlete endorsements, findings from a lab experiment indicate that low perceived fit affected implicit attitudes, which in turn affected arousal for consumers with high involvement. Pleasure, arousal, and pride were interrelated and systematically determined behavioral intentions of viewership and online friendship with athletes. Studies investigating athlete brands and endorsement success should consider the influence of both implicit and explicit attitudes on fan behavior. Managers should strategically utilize both low and high fit endorsements to facilitate emotional experiences and optimize desired consumption behavior.

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Milena M. Parent, Michael L. Naraine and Russell Hoye

With the numerous changes to the sport system landscape since Slack and his colleagues examined national sport organizations’ governance in the 1990s, the purpose of this paper was to begin exploring the impact of these environmental changes on Canadian national sport organizations. To do so, we focused on five Canadian national sport organizations, from large Olympic sport organizations to small non-Olympic sport organizations. The two-pronged content and network analyses point to a convergence of governance structures and stakeholder interactions between the five organizations due in no small part to the new Canada Not-for-profit Corporations Act. We found organizations coordinating with both traditional (e.g., athletes) and nontraditional (e.g., social media public) stakeholder groups as well as renewing their focus on accountability and transparency. These findings imply a need to revisit the kitchen table–boardroom–executive office archetype continuum and demonstrate the extent of influence environmental changes (e.g., technological advancement and new laws) can have on sport organizations.

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Craig Hyatt, Shannon Kerwin, Larena Hoeber and Katherine Sveinson

While the sport fan literature suggests that it is common for parents to socialize their children to cheer for specific sports and teams, recent literature proposes that children can socialize their parents into changing the parents’ sport fandom in a process sociologists and consumer behavior researchers refer to as reverse socialization. To ascertain whether children can socialize and influence their parents’ sport fandom, 20 sport fan parents were interviewed. Evidence of reverse socialization was found in 15 of the participants, manifesting itself in ways that can be categorized as either developing new or additional fandom, or changing one’s behaviors or attitudes towards their existing fandom. However, further exploration of the data suggests that future research reexamine the term “reverse socialization,” as we do not see this as a directionality of influence, but as children as socializing agents.

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Daniel Maderer, Petros Parganas and Christos Anagnostopoulos

Social-media platforms have become an important tool for sport marketers to communicate their brand image and engage with fans. This study analyzed 1,115 Facebook posts and 16,308 tweets from 10 of the most valuable European professional football clubs to identify the range of brand associations communicated and the level of online fan engagement. Statistical analysis captured correlations between and among selected brand attributes, time periods of posts (in and off-season), and levels of fan engagement. On both Facebook and Twitter, football clubs posted more frequently during the season, while content associated with product-related attributes was the focus of such communication. Product-related content was found to generate higher levels of online fan engagement. The study extends the literature on sport teams’ brand management through social media and offers practical recommendations on how to enhance fan identification and engagement and ultimately make financial and reputational gains.