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Spreading Research Uncomfortably Slow: Insight for Emerging Sport Management Scholars

Daniel C. Funk

Self-reflection on knowledge generation in sport management is essential for continued growth and remains a prevailing topic for recipients of the Earle F. Zeigler Award. To date, two perspectives largely guide such evaluation: What makes a theoretical contribution and what constitutes new theory. The 2018 Earle F. Zeigler Address introduces a third perspective based on the concept of diffusion to explore three elements: article innovation, communication channel, and social system that contribute to producing and spreading new knowledge. This examination utilizes data and information collected from sport management articles, journal citations, a case study, editorial board membership characteristics, and my coauthor network and publishing experiences. Holistically, the evidence collected provides insight into how and why ideas could spread in sport management. Unfortunately, for new and emerging scholars, spreading ideas through academic journals will be uncomfortably slow and managing expectations important. However, by understanding the academic publishing ecosystem, scholars can improve chances for idea diffusion through selecting appropriate journal outlets, establishing interpersonal connections, creating weak and strong coauthor ties, and engaging in programmatic research. This address concludes with strategies to help navigate spreading research ideas by setting realistic goals, optimizing the coauthor network, and reinvesting in the original idea.

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Exploring the Development of Team Identification

Daniel Lock, Tracy Taylor, Daniel Funk, and Simon Darcy

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Sport Consumer Behavior Research: Improving Our Game

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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The Effect of League Brand on the Relationship Between the Team Brand and Behavioral Intentions: A Formative Approach Examining Brand Associations and Brand Relationships

Thilo Kunkel, Daniel C. Funk, and Daniel Lock

Understanding the role of the league brand on consumers’ support for individual teams is important for the successful management and marketing of both leagues and teams. In the current research, brand architecture and brand association literature are integrated to examine the role of the league brand on the relationship between the team brand and team-related behavior. Data from an online survey of professional soccer league consumers (N = 414) were analyzed using structural equation modeling with bootstrapping procedures. The relationship between the team brand and team-related behavior was partially mediated by the league brand. Findings of this research contribute new knowledge by empirically demonstrating that characteristics of the league brand have an influence on team-related behavioral intentions. Furthermore, we contribute a different analytical approach for brand association research using formative indicators to measure team and league brand associations. In the managerial implications, we outline how league managers can support individual teams and how team managers can leverage off the league brand to attract consumers.

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Habitually Scrolling: An Examination Into How Sport Consumers Use Social Media

Heather Kennedy and Daniel C. Funk

Uses and gratifications theory has often been used in (sport) communication studies to examine social media usage. Yet, criticisms of uses and gratifications theory (e.g., it overstates purposefulness) and competing research suggesting media use is more habitual and unconscious in nature have often been overlooked. Thus, through semistructured interviews, this research explored how social media is used, identifying five themes: passively, distinctly, periodically, habitually, and universally. Theoretically, this research contributes by highlighting the passive, habitual, and unconscious nature of some sport social media behavior, thereby challenging our current assumptions that sport social media usage is always active, purposeful, and goal directed. It also considers the uniqueness (or lack thereof) of sport content within the social media experience. Managerially, this research helps sport organizations understand how consumers use social media to inform marketing and communication strategies.

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Brand Architecture, Drivers of Consumer Involvement, and Brand Loyalty With Professional Sport Leagues and Teams

Thilo Kunkel, Daniel Funk, and Brad Hill

Understanding brand relationships as perceived by consumers is important for the successful management and marketing of connected brands. Brand architecture and consumer behavior literature was integrated in this study to examine brand relationships between professional sport leagues and teams from a consumers’ perspective. Online questionnaire data were gathered from football consumers (N = 752) to test the influence of leagues and teams on consumer loyalty. Consumers were segmented into three theoretically identified sport brand architecture groups: league dominant, team dominant, and codominant. Findings of CFA, MANOVA, paired-sample t tests, frequency analysis, chi-square and linear regression analysis revealed that leagues and teams were in a codominant relationship with one another. Results revealed the brand architecture of leagues and teams as perceived by consumers, provide a reliable and valid tool to segment sport spectators, and showcase the influence of external factors on consumer loyalty with a team. Suggestions for league and team management and marketing are presented to better leverage their brand relationship and increase consumer loyalty with both brands.

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Developing a Conceptual Understanding of Consumer-based League Brand Associations

Thilo Kunkel, Daniel Funk, and Ceridwyn King

Existing research has primarily focused on sport teams as brands, overlooking the branding of professional sport leagues. Professional sport leagues are required to build and leverage their brand associations to be sustainable and to help affiliated teams. This study integrated existing team brand association research with brand architecture literature to examine league brand associations from a consumer perspective. A freethought listing pilot test (N = 22) was followed by semistructured interviews (N = 26) to uncover 17 brand associations linked with professional sport leagues. Online questionnaires among consumers of four sport leagues in Australia (N = 1182) were used to support 17 distinct identified league brand associations. One sample t tests and correlation analyses empirically revealed that 17 league brand associations were linked with attitudinal and behavioral outcomes related to sport leagues. Finally, ANOVAs identified that some league brand associations differed between four leagues as perceived by consumers, reflecting league specific characteristics.

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Symbiosis and Substitution in Spectator Sport

Mark P. Pritchard and Daniel C. Funk

The relationship between the consumption of sport via media and its more active counterpart, attendance, remains ambiguous. Some researchers have observed a symbiotic relationship at work—each behavior fueling the other, whereas others see no connection or argue that media use competes with live attendance as a recreational substitute. The current study of baseball game spectators (n = 308) employed a dual-route framework (DRF) to describe symbiotic and substitution behaviors. High/low mixes of media use and attendance were used to identify four distinct modes of intake (heavy, light, and media- and event-dominant). Follow-up comparisons distinguished each mode with discrete levels of involvement, satisfaction, and spectator attraction. The results expose the limits of previous models of spectator behavior and encourage us to broaden our understandings of consumption frequency beyond attendance alone. The DRF modes suggest that plotting media use in conjunction with attendance offers a more accurate account of spectator involvement. If models like the escalator dissected the data, they would consider the light and media-dominant and the heavy and event-dominant modes as equivalent. The importance of media-dominant consumption and the strategic implications of these segments are discussed.

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Consumer Loyalty: The Meaning of Attachment in the Development of Sport Team Allegiance

Daniel C. Funk and Jeffrey D. James

Prior research has demonstrated a direct relationship between loyalty and reasons for liking a particular sport team. The current study replicates and extends this line of inquiry by examining the mediating role of attachment, a process by which an individual moves from merely liking a team (attraction) to becoming loyal to a team (allegiance). Data (Collegiate N = 194; Collegiate and Professional N = 402, Favorite Sport Team N = 808) were collected to examine 13 benefits and attributes associated with liking a sport team, 3 attitude formation properties, and allegiance. A three-stage test of mediation using MLR revealed that attachment mediated the relationship between allegiance and Vicarious Achievement, Nostalgia, Star Player, Escape, Success, and Peer Group Acceptance. Results demonstrate that allegiance is the outcome of a process by which individuals develop stronger emotional reactions to, more functional knowledge about, and greater symbolic value for benefits and attributes associated with a sport team.

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Developing an Understanding of Brand Associations in Team Sport: Empirical Evidence from Consumers of Professional Sport

James M. Gladden and Daniel C. Funk

This study broadens the understanding of brand management in sport by creating the Team Association Model, a scale that identifies dimensions of brand associations, a major contributor to the creation of brand equity. Utilizing Keller’s (1993) theoretical framework of consumer-based brand equity, a thorough review of the sport literature was conducted which identified 16 potential dimensions. These 16 dimensions are derived with reference to Keller’s categorization of brand associations into ATTRIBUTE (success, head coach, star player, management, stadium, logo design, product delivery, and tradition), BENEFIT (identification, nostalgia, pride in place, escape, and peer group acceptance), and ATTITUDE (importance, knowledge, and affect). In order to evaluate the applicability of each potential dimension, a scale is developed, pre-tested, and tested on a national sample of sport consumers. Results of the confirmatory factor analysis of provided support for this paper’s theoretical notion that 16 distinct constructs underlie brand associations in sports.