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Disrupting the Disruptor: Perceptions as Institutional Maintenance Work at the 1968 Olympic Games

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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Getting an Internship in the Sport Industry: The Institutionalization of Privilege

Nefertiti A. Walker, Kwame J.A. Agyemang, Marvin Washington, Lauren C. Hindman, and Jeffrey MacCharles

Unpaid internships are embedded in sport hegemony. These unpaid sport internships often offer fewer learning opportunities and foster an environment wherein interns feel like “second-class citizens” in their organization. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to investigate the world of unpaid internships in the sport industry by exploring students’ perspectives of them as an institutionalized practice, as well as how privilege impacts their internship experiences. Grounded in institutional theory, data from semistructured interviews with 17 sports management students were analyzed using the Gioia methodology. Three themes emerged from the findings: the idiosyncratic nature of sport internships, the legitimization of unpaid internships in the sport industry, and the institutionalization of privilege spurred by such positions. Practical implications from the study include increasing sport organizations’ awareness of how unpaid internships disadvantage students from less privileged backgrounds and may, therefore, result in a less socioeconomically diverse workforce in the sport industry.