The emerging debate about the applied sociology of sport is analyzed. It is noted that vigorous pursuit of application is likely to further theoretical, substantive, and methodological advance in sport sociology. It is shown that practical applications of social scientific data and theories require researchers to elucidate social scientific interpretations while simultaneously specifying the naive understandings of stakeholders. The resulting work will be self-reflexive and will require ongoing collaboration with the individuals, groups, and communities under study. It is concluded that the applied sociology of sport must necessarily become a sociology that empowers.
Over the past two decades, policy analysis has developed as a collection of formal methods to enhance policy design and implementation. Interpretive and critical methods for policy analysis have recently been advocated as a way to clarify the parameters of policy problems and thereby improve policy formulation and implementation. The heuristic basis for interpretive and critical policy analysis is consistent with contemporary findings in the psychology of decision making. Formal methods for interpretive and critical policy analysis are elaborated and illustrated via application to the drafting of the U.S. Amateur Sports Act (PL 95-606). It is shown that the methods illumine decision processes that have caused sport development to become subordinate to the administrative rationalization of American Olympic sport governance.
The current malaise over sport management’s place and future as an academic discipline provides a useful basis for envisioning the needs and directions for the field’s growth and development. The field’s development requires two complementary streams of research: one that tests the relevance and application of theories derived from other disciplines, and one that is grounded in sport phenomena. The legitimations that sport advocates advance for sport’s place on public agendas are useful starting points for research that is sport focused. The fi ve most common current legitimations for sport are health, salubrious socialization, economic development, community development, and national pride. The value of sport in each case depends on the ways that sport is managed. Factors that facilitate and that inhibit optimization of sport’s contribution to each must be identified and probed. Identifying and probing those factors will be aided by research that confronts popular beliefs about sport, and by research that explores sport’s links to other economic sectors. The resulting research agenda will foster development of a distinctive sport management discipline.
Research seeking to describe and explain the extraordinary attention received by the Olympic Games has elaborated useful models of fan interest and motivation. In this paper, implications for the theory and practice of marketing sport are reviewed. Olympics research shows that audience interest is maximized via the simultaneous presence of multiple narratives, embedded genres, and layered symbols. Multiple narratives create stories attractive to varied audience segments by recounting dramas of enduring cultural interest or by incorporating contemporary, nonsport political or social concerns. Embedded genres (e.g., festival, spectacle, ritual, game) appeal to a diverse audience by serving as parallel and simultaneous invitations to consumer interest. Appropriately layered symbols (e.g., awards, banners, flags, uniforms, anthems) promote spectator interest by making ceremonies and rituals representative of more than a mere game or contest. The use of multiple narratives, embedded genres, and layered symbols in the planning, design, and promotion of sporting events is discussed. These strategies are contrasted with positioning (i.e., communication strategies designed to obtain a unique representation for products in consumers' minds). It is argued that multiple narratives, embedded genres, and layered symbols function affectively and thereby complement positioning, which functions cognitively, as marketing strategies.
Policy analytic methods derived from hermeneutics and critical theory are particularly useful for the analysis of sport policy discourse. A key objective of such methods is to provide analyses with the potential to empower stakeholders by locating key attributions and legitimations that direct and constrain policy options. This concern for empowerment links policy analysis to recent arguments for the utility of participatory action research in sport management. Techniques of critical policy analysis provide a useful adjunct tool because they furnish interpretations and critiques that can be used by undervalued or excluded stakeholders to challenge debilitating policy assumptions. Two key Procedures for critical interpretation are illustrated via application to the discourse guiding the formulation of New Zealand's sport policies. Legitimation critique exposes key reasons why athletes were never pivotal to policy deliberations, and why subsequent policy outcomes fail to address key athlete concerns. Attribution critique illumines the presuppositions that caused the development of sport infrastructure or sport programs to be excluded from the policy focus. It is argued that policy design failures of this kind can be averted via the application of critical policy analysis during policy design.
Although sport has evidenced phenomenal growth throughout this century, the directions of sport's growth have been widely criticized. The growth and resulting criticisms challenge sport managers and sport management researchers to reexamine their methods and their assumptions. Articles in this special issue explore the redesign of sport systems and the tasks of redressing inequities in sport service delivery. They raise significant issues about the role of knowledge in the empowerment of managers and clients. The articles suggest the value of incorporating both qualitative and quantitative methods in action research, and challenge traditional distinctions between “applied” and “basic” research. They demonstrate the merit of case-based research, and illustrate the utility of collaborations between researchers and the persons they study. The study of social change in sport promises to provide a useful context for the elaboration of theories and models about the management of sport.
The United States is struggling to hold its own in international competitions. The Amateur Sports Act mandates that the USOC and its NGBs should build American sport performances by fostering sport participation throughout the country, and by enabling sport research. However, data from the past 16 years of sport participation demonstrate that participation is declining in many of our key sports, while others show inconsistent or merely ephemeral growth. Further, sport research is no longer pursued by the USOC, and it is not funded by any U.S. government agency or private American foundation. Consequently, the American sporting culture is eroding, and the United States is becoming a client nation when it comes to sport research. A review of the formation of The Amateur Sports Act shows that it was formulated to address Cold War concerns. Consequently, the Act failed to consider sport development, as the Act’s primary purpose was to engender a rationalized private sport system through which to build teams that could beat communist athletes. A reassessment of The Amateur Sports Act in light of contemporary conditions, suggests that greater attention to participation and research are necessary, but that such attention will require establishment of a foundation to nurture sport participation and to fund sport research. The foundation’s mandate would include creation of clubs and leagues to enable year round and lifelong sport participation, enhancement of the availability of sport facilities for club and league use, guidance for grassroots development of sport, and establishment of clear pathways for athletes. The template for such a foundation was created in the 1960s but never implemented. The time is ripe for it to be implemented now either by incorporating its mandates into the new Foundation for Fitness, Sport, and Nutrition, or by establishing a foundation that specifically targets sport development.
Laurence Chalip and Anna Leyns
Four studies are reported that examine the status and potentials for local businesses to leverage the Gold Coast Honda Indy. The leveraging efforts of local businesses are identified in Study 1. Most local business managers fail to recognize the event as a leveraging opportunity. Tactics used by businesses that do attempt to leverage the event are examined in Study 2. Businesses that leverage the event obtain benefits through the use of standard promotional and theming tactics. Experts’ views about leveraging the event are obtained in Study 3. The experts conclude that some coordination of local businesses' leveraging efforts would be advantageous. The views of local business leaders are solicited in Study 4. The business leaders favor leveraging but prefer that the coordination come from an existing business organization or association, rather than through government or a new bureaucracy. The studies suggest that the potentials for leveraging are largely unrealized and that some degree of inertia would need to be overcome to realize those potentials. It is argued that event organizers have the most to gain by fostering and coordinating local business leveraging.
Xiaoyan Xing and Laurence Chalip
Sport mega-event organizing committees have three uniquely challenging characteristics: They grow rapidly; they are temporary; they are accountable for event symbolisms. Effects of these characteristics are examined via participant observation and in-depth interviews with twelve lower-level employees of the Beijing Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (BOCOG) two years before the Beijing Olympics. Four themes about their working lives were identified: The daily work is mundane; BOCOG is bureaucratic; privilege has its privileges; my immediate working environment nurtures me. The mega-event context was also important; workers described it using: The Olympics are great and grand; the Olympics are valuable for China; the Olympics illustrate the challenges that China faces in the 21st century; BOCOG is uniquely high profile; BOCOG helps us to understand Chinese society. Employees used four themes to describe the coping strategies they applied to manage the challenges of working for the organizing committee: I have to confront or adjust; my work at BOCOG allows me to develop myself; working at BOCOG represents a passionate life with idealism; I get to be part of history. Findings suggest that social support, the symbolic significance of the event, and learning through event work mitigate the stresses of working to host a mega-event. Future work should examine the workers’ lives longitudinally over the lifespan of an organizing committee to delineate the dynamics of meanings and experiences in mega-event work.