Public relations (PR) activities in college athletics are concerned with many types of people, organizations, and businesses. The success of a program depends on support from these constituents. The purpose of this research was to determine the perception of PR roles in a college athletic environment. One goal was to determine how many athletic directors (ADs) occupy PR positions in their department or what position they perceive to be most involved with PR. A second goal was to examine attitudes held by ADs regarding the importance, benefits, and responsibilities of PR officers. A final goal was to determine what role behaviors PR practitioners are exhibiting. This study provides empirical research in the area of PR, specifically in college athletics. The findings provide a benchmark for the PR literature in relation to the sports industry, how PR fits into the sports structure, and what roles PR plays in college athletics.
Assessment On and Off the Field: Examining Athletic Directors’ Perceptions of Public Relations in College Athletics
Brody J. Ruihley and Lisa T. Fall
Message Boards and the Fantasy Sport Experience
Brody J. Ruihley and Robin L. Hardin
Fantasy sport joins competition, sport knowledge, and socialization into one interactive sport activity. This research specifically focuses on the socialization aspects of the activity. This analysis addresses overall satisfaction in fantasy sport, future intentions to return to the activity, and reasons why fantasy sport users (FSUs) do or do not use message boards. Data were collected from 322 FSUs in a questionnaire format using quantitative-scale items and qualitative open-ended questions. The results indicate 62.1% (n = 200) of the sample using message boards in their fantasy sport experience. Reasons for their use were based on the themes of logistical conversation, socializing, surveillance, and advice or opinion. FSUs chose not to use message boards for reasons based on no interest, information, time, and alternative options. Other results indicate that those using message boards have higher overall satisfaction and future use intentions than those not using message boards. This suggests that message boards enhance the fantasy sport experience.
Sport and the Coronavirus Crisis Special Issue: An Introduction
Brody J. Ruihley and Bo Li
Just a Fantasy? Examining Fantasy Sport in a Time Without Sport
Brody J. Ruihley and Jacob Chamberlin
The fantasy sport industry has seen tremendous growth over the past three decades. Estimated at 500,000 participants in 1988, the industry has had positive growth every step of the way to a current estimate of 59.3 million North American participants. Touting this incredible rise in participation, nothing has obstructed the growth of this sport media and communication phenomenon until now. The sport landscape and fantasy sport industry find themselves in a situation with complete absence of live sport. The Coronavirus crisis has impacted the fantasy sport community and thousands of professionals in many ways. This research commentary, supplemented with primary interview data, questions the stoppage of fantasy sport and explores conversations, planning, and reaction from the fantasy sport community.
Recruiting Women to a Male-Dominated Activity: A Case Study of Women’s Nonparticipation in Fantasy Sport
Brody J. Ruihley and Heidi Grappendorf
Fantasy Sports Collection, Inc. (FSC) is a fantasy sport organization offering fantasy play since 2005. Having plateaued in consumer growth, FSC is faced with difficult financial decisions. In a brainstorming session regarding new initiatives, Molly Brinkmeyer suggested an idea to purposefully market to and recruit more women to preestablished offerings. Molly’s reasons driving this idea were the fact that only 14% of their consumers were women and, after an evaluation of FSC’s marketing campaigns, employees of FSC quickly saw that advertisements were overtly produced for men. FSC’s management team felt that this was an idea worth pursuing. They charged Molly with acquiring information about women’s fantasy sport participation and gave her a 3-week window to learn more and report back. She found that women’s top perceptions of the activity were that: (a) the activity was time consuming; (b) the activity required research, surveillance, and information; (c) they had no interest or understanding of it; (d) they felt the activity was too competitive; (e) they thought it wasn’t real; and (f) they still had a positive opinion of fantasy sport. With this new information, marketing decisions could now be made to address existing concerns by women regarding fantasy sport participation.
Fantasy Breakdown: A Case Study on Organizational Crisis Communication and Stakeholder Reaction During Mass Product Failure
Brody J. Ruihley, Jason Simmons, Andrew C. Billings, and Rich Calabrese
On the first Sunday of the National Football League’s 2016–17 season, a technical issue caused ESPN’s fantasy-football website and mobile application to fail. ESPN’s product failure is no small problem and represented a major organizational crisis; with 7.1 million unique users, ESPN represents the largest provider of a multi-billion-dollar fantasy-sport industry. This case study examined ESPN’s organizational communication strategy, as well as the stakeholder responses surrounding the failure of ESPN’s fantasy-football website and application on the most anticipated day of the fantasy-sport season. Using content analysis and partnering with a social media data insights company, the study examined social media messages from both the organizational and consumer side of this fantasy-sport product failure. Through ampling 1,542 social media messages from a population of 11,881 unique comments via Twitter, the reactive nature of ESPN’s messages and the direct responses from its consumers was ascertained.