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Damien Whitburn, Adam Karg and Paul Turner

Relationship marketing through digital forms of integrated marketing communications can provide sport organizations with a range of positive outcomes. Given decreasing participation, membership and funding pressures, sport organizations need to engage with current and prospective consumers to alleviate these concerns. Drawing on existing research in the digital communications setting, a framework illustrating the end to end integrated marketing communications function as implemented by governing bodies as a form of not-for-profit sporting organizations is presented and tested. Satisfaction with integrated marketing communications was shown to have a direct effect on relationship quality and behavioral intentions, including revenue raising, increasing participation, raising awareness, and enhancing public perception providing practical and theoretical benefits.

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Adam Karg, Heath McDonald and Civilai Leckie

How consumers decide to consume sport is a complex choice. Broadcast options have widened through new channels and content options while live attendance has improved through enhanced stadium quality and tailored customer experiences. Past research has suggested that consumers have strong preferences for one form of consumption over the other, including “media-dominant consumers” who rarely attend live. The authors present two studies to examine the channel preferences of sports consumers. The first is a large nationally representative survey that allowed us to profile consumption channel preferences and profile four distinct groups of sport consumers. The second focuses on more highly engaged fans—season ticket holders and explores the presence of media-dominant consumers for how satisfaction with core products is assessed differently by groups of consumers. The results suggest a need to tailor products around channel preferences and challenge the role of media consumption established in fan development models.

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Jason Daniels, Thilo Kunkel and Adam Karg

Acknowledging the prevalence of new brands and rebranding activities in the present sport landscape, the current research examined consumer perceptions of new sport brands over time. Season-ticket holders and fans (N = 7,590) of eight teams were tracked over the first 5 years of a league’s existence. Brand associations were measured with a free-thought listing technique, and a coding process surmised 18 brand associations related to teams in the league, with six representing benefits and 12 representing attributes. Initially, responses were attribute dominant; however, benefits increased proportionately over the 5-year period of exploration. Findings extend knowledge on the development of consumer-based brand associations of new sport brands over time, highlight contextual differences between brands, and demonstrate the impact of star players on teams within sport-brand architecture. Given their application to global sport settings, these findings have implications for sport managers who introduce new brands to the marketplace.

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Daniel Funk, Daniel Lock, Adam Karg and Mark Pritchard

Sport consumer behavior (SCB) research continues to grow in both popularity and sophistication. A guiding principle in much of this research has focused on the nature of sport-related experiences and the benefits sport consumers derive from these experiences. This emphasis has generated new knowledge and insights into the needs and wants of sport consumers. Although these efforts have contributed to the field’s understanding of SCB, the vast majority of this research has centered on psychological phenomena and the evaluative and affective components of these sport experiences. Approaches to this work have also narrowed, with SCB research predominately relying on cross-sectional studies and attitudinal surveys to collect information. This has resulted in limited findings that seldom account for how various situational or environmental factors might influence attitudinal data patterns at the individual and group level. This special issues seeks to deepen our understanding of SCB by providing seven papers that demonstrate or validate findings using multiple studies or data collections.

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Andrea N. Eagleman, Adam Karg and Ryan M. Rodenberg

This case explores the complex multi-layered governance structure in the international Olympic sport of gymnastics, describing in detail the governance structures and operations of each layer – the International Olympic Committee (IOC), Fédération Internationale de Gymnastique (FIG), which is the international federation for gymnastics, and the national governing bodies (NGB) of gymnastics in the United States and Australia, USA Gymnastics and Gymnastics Australia. While both NGBs highlighted in this case are deemed to be successful on an international level, the case reveals many subtle differences between the two, which can be discussed in both governance and organizational behavior contexts. Finally, the timely issue of age fraud in gymnastics and the response from each level of governance are presented and provide an opportunity for further in-depth discussion.