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Plains State University’s Naming Rights Dilemma

Nels Popp, Terry Eddy, and Chad McEvoy

In this case study, readers are placed in the role of a National Collegiate Athletics Association (NCAA) Division I Athletics Director and challenged to consider the issue of selling the corporate naming rights to the department’s premier on-campus sports venue. Readers are exposed to a myriad of issues impacting such a decision and must weigh out such factors as: (a) the appropriateness of corporate commercialization in college athletics, (b) the pressure to balance a tight athletic department budget, (c) the impact of changing a facility name which holds significant nostalgic value to the fan base, (d) what type of sponsors might be an appropriate fit for a corporate naming rights sponsorship, and (e) what are the current trends among sport facility naming rights within college athletics. The case study is supported by many scholarly research citations but also includes important appendices, including a database of 44 current college athletic facility naming rights deals, populated with key variables. This database will assist readers in the difficult process of attempting to value naming rights for a fictional facility depicted in the case study.

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Motivations and Mediated Consumption Habits of Users of Mixed-Martial-Arts Online Message Boards

Terry Eddy, Lamar Reams, and Stephen Dittmore

As online business models have evolved, learning what drives users’ consumptive behaviors has gained increasing interest to sport researchers and sport properties. An increasing number of sport properties are expanding, and deriving revenues from, their presence on digital-media platforms (e.g., MLB, NBA, NFL, UFC, WWE, etc.). Of the sport properties mentioned, none are more reliant on digital-media activity than the Ultimate Fighting Championship. As such, the purpose of this study was to examine the motivations and related consumption habits of users of non-subscription-based (i.e., free-to-use) online message boards. Findings suggest that message-board users find value in the opportunities for interactivity and that heavy online mixed-martial-arts users watch more events and purchase more merchandise than those who spend less time online.

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The Retweet as a Function of Electronic Word-of-Mouth Marketing: A Study of Athlete Endorsement Activity on Twitter

B. Colin Cork and Terry Eddy

The purpose of this study was to examine endorsement-related tweets from athletes and determine which characteristics of those tweets could increase the degree of electronic word-of-mouth marketing (eWOM) generated by the message. Previous literature has suggested that the retweet function in Twitter is a form of eWOM. Through the lens of eWOM, the concepts of vividness, interactivity, and congruence are used to understand what tweet characteristics generate the most retweets. A sample of professional-athlete endorsement and sponsored tweets (n = 669) was used and coded based on frameworks adapted from previous studies. Results indicated that the interaction between levels of high vividness and high interactivity generated the highest frequency of retweets. Reported findings could inform athletes and/or brand managers in ways to increase the eWOM of sponsored messages on Twitter.

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Can You Smell What “The Rock” Is Cooking? Exploring a Potential Canadian Football League–Xtreme Football League Partnership

Zachary C.T. Evans, Jess C. Dixon, and Terry Eddy

The COVID-19 pandemic forced Canadian Football League (CFL) commissioner Randy Ambrosie to cancel the League’s 2020 season, and given CFL teams’ financial dependence on gate and game-day revenues, the League had suffered substantial financial losses. The pandemic also caused the Xtreme Football League (XFL) to fold five games into its 2020 season; however, the XFL was purchased by an ownership group led by Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, with plans to resume play in 2022. Shortly thereafter, the CFL and XFL jointly announced that they would explore the possibility of partnering to grow the game of football and their respective leagues. This case challenges students to determine the best option for the CFL and commissioner Ambrosie moving forward by completing a Porter’s value chain analysis for both leagues. This analysis will help students to make an informed, evidence-based decision about how well the two leagues align with one another. While there are several benefits to a potential partnership, there are also challenges that must be overcome if some type of partnership with the XFL is to be considered.

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Examining Engagement With Sport Sponsor Activations on Twitter

Terry Eddy, B. Colin Cork, Katie Lebel, and Erin Howie Hickey

Research on sport sponsors’ use of social media has begun to emerge, but, to date, limited research has examined how sponsors are using social media as an activation platform to engage with followers. Thus, the purpose of this research was to examine differences in follower engagement with regard to sponsored Twitter posts from North American professional sport organizations, based upon the focus, scope, and activation type of the sponsored messages. This manuscript consists of two related studies—Study 1 employed a deductive content analysis, followed by negative binomial regression modeling, to examine differences in engagement between message structures defined by focus and scope. Study 2 featured an inductive content analysis to investigate differences in engagement between different types of activations. The findings suggest that, in general, more passive (or less overt) forms of sponsor integration in social media messages drive more engagement among followers.