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Sada Reed and Kathleen A. Hansen

Using gatekeeping theory as a conceptual framework, this study examines social media’s influence on American sports journalists’ perception of gatekeeping, particularly sports journalists who cover elite sports. Seventy-seven print sports journalists covering professional sports were asked if their definition of gatekeeper has changed since they began using social media for news-gathering purposes. Thirty-six participants did not think their definition of gatekeeper had changed. The 26 respondents who did think it had changed were asked to explain how. Responses were coded into 1 of the 5 categories in Shoemaker and Reese’s Hierarchy of Influences model—individual, media routines, organization, extramedia, and ideological. Results suggest that for practitioners who do believe there has been a change, they see social media as changing their day-in, day-out job routines, as opposed to extramedia influences.

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Lidsy McLean

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James Reese, Mark Dodds, Richard Southall and Kevin Heisey

A professional sport team began play in a new stadium. Although the old facility had no such seat inventory, one of the features at the new facility was the addition of 8,800 club seats. According to the marketing materials provided by the team, the new club-seat inventory offers amenities not available at the old stadium, including upscale concessions, a heated and air-conditioned lounge, padded seats, and increased restroom capacity. After the opening of the new stadium, fans complained about their club seat experience, including long concessions and restrooms lines (typically longer than at the old facility) and consistent premium food shortages. In the off-season, the team began the process of sending ticket-renewal invoices for the upcoming season. Approximately 100 club-seat holders declined to renew, claiming the team breached the contract by not providing the services promised. The team attempted to negotiate with the affected customers with limited success.

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Stephanie M. Mazerolle and Chantel Hunter

Professional commitment has been studied in multiple settings, yet little is known about the professional sport setting. A total of 27 male athletic trainers, employed full time in the professional sport setting, participated in this study. Our participants were 34 years old (range 30–58), with 21 ± 7 years of experience as a certified athletic trainer, and more than 17 ± 7 years of experience in the professional setting. We conducted online asynchronous interviews. All data were analyzed following an interpretative approach. Data saturation was met, and we used a peer review and researcher triangulation. Barriers to professional commitment included time away from family/home and negative work environment. The facilitators to professional commitment were competition, positive work environment, and off-season professional development. The professional sport setting is unique, much like the collegiate setting, and thus our findings highlight that time away and a negative workplace atmosphere can reduce an athletic trainer’s commitment. Commitment to the profession, however, is enhanced within this setting because of the chance to be around the high level of competition, as well as the chance to have time for professional development.

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Kathryn L. Heinze, Sara Soderstrom and Jennifer Zdroik

The rise and institutionalization of corporate social responsibility (CSR) in sport is captured in a growing body of work in sport management. This literature suggests professional teams should be strategic in their approaches—matching internal resources with external needs—but we lack an understanding of the processes and mechanisms in the evolution to more strategic CSR, as well as specific practices that characterize these approaches. Further, by focusing on broad trends in how and why teams are adopting CSR, we miss the opportunity to learn from teams with innovative and authentic CSR approaches. To address these gaps, this article uses a qualitative case-study approach to examine how one professional team in the U.S.—the Detroit Lions—evolved their CSR to a more strategic and authentic partnership-focused model. Our findings point to key process steps and mechanisms in the decision making around, and implementation of, this approach, including the role of organizational structure, leadership, and community partnerships. We draw out themes around these central partnerships and highlight best practices. In offering a more nuanced understanding of professional sport CSR process and practice, we contribute to the literature on CSR in sport, sport-community partnerships, and sport and city revitalization.

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Marion E. Hambrick, Jason M. Simmons, Greg P. Greenhalgh and T. Christopher Greenwell

The online social network Twitter has grown exponentially since 2008. The current study examined Twitter use among professional athletes who use Twitter to communicate with fans and other players. The study used content analysis to place 1,962 tweets by professional athletes into one of six categories: interactivity, diversion, information sharing, content, promotional, and fanship. Many of the tweets fell into the interactivity category (34%). Athletes used Twitter to converse directly with their followers. Those with the most followers had more interactivity tweets. A large percentage of tweets (28%) fell into the diversion category, because many of the tweets involved non-sports-related topics, and relatively few of the tweets (15%) involved players discussing their own teams or sports. In addition, only 5% of the tweets were promotional in nature, indicating that professional athletes may not be taking advantage of the promotional opportunities Twitter may provide.

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Gary Pasqualicchio, Norm O’Reilly and Ed Elowson

For years, sport properties and corporate sponsors have struggled to develop strategies to activate their expansive partnerships, particularly those without high-ranking national media coverage. This case analyzes a successful, multilayered sponsorship activation tied to the 2012 retirement of Philadelphia Eagles star Brian Dawkins. The Eagles, in partnership with AAA and Marvel, created and promoted a unique weekend around Dawkins’ retirement that included a NASCAR race, an NFL Sunday Night Football Game, and a meet-and-greet with Dawkins; this weekend was marketed extensively across various modes of media. The partners’ goals were to engage 7 million regionally-based Eagles fans, not just the 70,000 fans who would witness Dawkins’ retirement ceremony inside Lincoln Financial Field during the game. This case illustrates how the partners came together to achieve common goals, using Dawkins’ image, presence, and positive affinity with Eagles fans. The case details sponsorship and activation trends, the activation ratio, and other examples of sponsorship activation tied to athlete retirement. The case asks students to take what they have learned about sponsorship activation and analyze the Dawkins retirement, discussing what was successful, what was not, and what could be done for future sponsorship activations in similar situations.

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Jamie Carlson and Aron O'Cass

How professional team-based sport organizations can optimize their e-service platform and manage their brand in an increasingly multichannel marketing environment is a critical issue. This study examines how sports consumers’ (i.e., fans’) perceptions of e-service quality, brand strength, and image congruency between the sport brands’ offline image and online image affects the development of consumers’ trust in the team’s website. In addition, the study explores the role of team website trust in developing team website loyalty, as well the role of loyalty in actual purchase frequency from the teams’ website. Data were collected via an online survey of sports consumers of e-services delivered by professional sport teams. The results indicate that sport team brand strength, followed by teams website e-service quality and brand image congruency between the teams online and offline activity are significant determinants of trust in the teams’ website, with online trust strongly influencing website loyalty intentions.