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George B. Cunningham

In this paper, from the Dr. Earle F. Zeigler Award Lecture presented in Austin, Texas, the author proposes that all persons have an obligation to ensure sport is inclusive and socially just. Works from a variety of disciplines, including religion, sociology, and social psychology, support the thesis. The author calls for collective action among sport management academicians, coalesced around teaching, research, and service to promote change. The final sections address potential counter narratives and provide an overview of the outcomes associated with an inclusive and socially just sport environment.

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George B. Cunningham

Previous research on diversity has been criticized for failing to include intervening and process variables. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the influence of two intervening variables, perceived group diversity and a common in-group identity, on the relationship between group diversity and group outcomes. Data were collected from 45 track-and-field coaching staffs (N = 175 participants). Hierarchical-regression analysis revealed that actual diversity was positively related to perceptions of such differences, and, in turn, perceptions of diversity were related to a common in-group identity. Finally, a common in-group identity was negatively related to organizational turnover intentions of the group and positively related to two measures of group effectiveness. Theoretical contributions and implications for diverse groups are discussed.

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George B Cunningham

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George B. Cunningham

The purpose of this study was to examine the diversity-related change process a university athletic department was undertaking. A comprehensive model was developed by drawing from full integration theory and institutional theory. Following an organizational diagnosis perspective, data were collected through semistructured interviews, internal documents from the athletic department and university culture centers, associated websites, and press releases. Results indicate that political, functional, and social pressures for change influenced the implementation of various diversity initiatives. Despite these efforts, two primary groups of factors served to impede the progress: organizational factors, in the form of top management support and systemic integration, and perceptual processes, in the form of social processes and utility. Results suggest that for diversity-related change to be successful, it is important to consider how diversity impacts the entire sport organization, internal and external stakeholders’ perceptions, and the meaningful influence of organizational factors.

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George B. Cunningham

The purpose of this study was to examine the prevalence, antecedents, and outcomes of diversity training in intercollegiate athletics. Data were collected from senior level administrators and aggregated to the department level for NCAA Division I (n = 239), Division II (n = 205), and Division III (n = 231) athletic departments. Only 53% of the athletic departments offered training. Logistic regression indicated that gender diversity, sexual orientation diversity, divisional affiliation, and the presence of a proactive diversity culture were all predictive of whether the department offered training. Additional analysis indicated that sensitivity to individual needs and understanding different cultures were the topics most covered in the training. Finally, the motivation for training (either compliance- or effectiveness-based) and the degree to which the training was systematically integrated were predictive of transfer of training, with the latter variable holding the strongest association. Implications, limitations, and future directions are discussed.

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George B. Cunningham

The purpose of this study was to understand (a) how participants conceptualized lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) inclusiveness in their athletic departments, (b) the antecedents of such workplace environments, and (c) the outcomes associated with inclusion. To do so, the author conducted a collective case study of two college athletic departments located in the U.S. Northeast. Data sources included individual interviews with coaches and administrators (n = 17), a reflexive journal, websites, university materials, and external publications. Participants described the athletic departments as characterized by community and cohesion, respect and inclusion, and success oriented. Various antecedents contributed to these workplace environments, including those at the individual level, leader behaviors, inclusive organizational policies, and macro-level influences. Finally, while some negative outcomes were identified, LGBT inclusion was predominantly associated with a host of positive outcomes for the employees, athletes, and organizations as a whole.

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George B. Cunningham and Calvin Nite

Drawing from concepts in institutional theory, the purpose of this study was to examine how community measures intersect with lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender inclusiveness to predict organizational success. The authors collected publicly available data about National Collegiate Athletic Association departments (N = 65) and their communities. Moderated regression analyses demonstrated significant interactive effects, such that performance was highest when the department followed an inclusive strategy and (a) the lesbian, gay, and bisexual population density was high and (b) the state-level implicit bias toward sexual minorities was low. Importantly, there were no negative effects in following an inclusive strategy, even when institutional logics did not prescribe such an approach. The models explained 60–62% of the variance in performance. The authors discuss theoretical and practical implications.

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George B. Cunningham and Michael Sagas

The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of age, ethnic, and organizational tenure diversity on occupational commitment and occupational turnover intent among coaching staffs. Data were gathered via questionnaire from coaches in 48 NCAA Division IA football coaching staffs (235 coaches). Hierarchical regression analyses, controlling for the success of the team and the number of respondents per team, indicated that the block of diversity variables accounted for 18% (p < .05) of the variance in occupational commitment and 16% (p < .05) of the variance in occupational turnover intentions. Tenure and ethnic diversity were significant predictors in both analyses, although age diversity was not. Implications are discussed in relation to the complexity of diversity and strategies to mitigate the negative effects of group diversity on group-level outcomes.

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George B. Cunningham and Melanie L. Sartore

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Melanie L. Sartore and George B. Cunningham

The purpose of this study was to examine the impact of weight discrimination on perceived attributions, person–job fit, and hiring recommendations. Three experiments were undertaken to investigate these issues with people applying for positions in fitness organizations (i.e., aerobics instructor and personal trainer). In all three studies qualified people who were overweight, relative to their qualified and sometimes unqualified thin counterparts, were perceived to have less desirable attributes (e.g., lazy), were thought to be a poorer fit for the position, and were less likely to receive a hiring recommendation. These relationships were influenced by applicant expertise and applicant sex in some cases. Implications for the fitness industry are discussed.