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César García

Historically, Barcelona Football Club (BFC) has represented one of the pillars of Catalan identity, which earned it the slogan “more than a club.” In recent times, especially under the presidency of Joan Laporta, management has radicalized the club’s political positions by using BFC as a platform to openly promote the independence from Spain of the Catalan region. Despite the fact that most Barcelona fans in Catalonia, as well as in the rest of Spain, have much more moderate political positions, the radicalization of BFC does not appear to have eroded the relationship-building process with Barcelona fandom. This article argues that BFC as an institution still maintains a good relationship with its fans because the social, as well as individual, identity provided by allegiance to a soccer club such as BFC is ultimately more important to members and fans than the club’s political positions.

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Popi Sotiriadou, Jessie Brouwers, Veerle De Bosscher and Graham Cuskelly

Previous studies acknowledge the importance of sporting organizations’ developing partnerships with clubs for athlete development purposes. However, there are no studies that address the way partnerships influence athlete progression and pathways. This study explores interorganizational relationships (IORs) between a tennis federation and tennis clubs in their efforts to improve player development processes. Document analysis and semistructured interviews with representatives from clubs and the Flemish federation were used. The findings show that the federation and the clubs engaged in IORs to achieve reciprocity and efficiency. The federation anticipated gaining legitimacy and asymmetry, and clubs expected to develop stability. Formal and informal control mechanisms facilitated IOR management. The conceptual model discussed in this study shows the types of IOR motives, management, and control mechanisms that drive and influence the attraction, retention/ transition, and nurturing processes of athlete development.

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James J. Zhang, Dale G. Pease and Dennis W. Smith

This study assessed the relationship between broadcasting and the attendance of minor league hockey games in terms of 5 media forms: cable television broadcasting, commercial television broadcasting, radio broadcasting, broadcasters, and overall broadcasting media. A random sample of spectators (N = 2,225) responded to a survey on attendance level and media use conducted in the arena during the intermissions of games from 6 second-half 1994-1995 season home games of an International Hockey League (ML) team. CM-square, f-test, and regression analyses revealed that viewing home games on cable television and away games on commercial television, listening to games on radio, and the quality of television and cable broadcasters were all positively associated with attendance, with approximately 6-11% game attendance variance explained. It is concluded that the current broadcasting arrangement is positively related to game attendance in providing information for and increasing the interests of spectators.

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Jo Williams and Susan J. Chinn

Sport industry marketers have long understood the importance of nurturing customer relationships. The new challenge is how best to face the shifts in customer relationship marketing posed by sports organizations and proactive consumers, or “prosumers.” In this article, the elements of the relationship-building process are presented with a focus on communication, interaction, and value, concepts identified in Gronroos’s (2004) relationship-marketing process model. An expanded version of Gronroos’s model is developed to include prosumers and to describe the interactions that occur through social-media exchanges. The value of specific social-media tools and Web 2.0 technologies in helping sport marketers meet their relationship-marketing goals is also discussed. Finally, directions for future research employing the expanded model are suggested.

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Gashaw Abeza, Norm O’Reilly, Benoit Seguin and Ornella Nzindukiyimana

This study, guided by the relationship marketing theoretical framework, adopted an observational netnography method to investigate professional sport teams’ use of Twitter as a relationship marketing tool. Specifically, the study focused on the three core components of the theoretical framework of relationship marketing: communication, interaction, and value. The observational netnography is based on data gathered from the official Twitter account of 20 professional sport teams in the four major North American leagues over a seven-month period. Results outline seven emergent communication types, six interaction practices, and ten values (co)created by the teams or/and fans. Theoretical and practical implications, as well as impetus for future research, are identified.

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Vassil Girginov, Marijke Taks, Bob Boucher, Scott Martyn, Marge Holman and Jess Dixon

Sport-participation development requires a systematic process involving knowledge creation and dissemination and interactions between national sport organizations (NSOs), participants, clubs, and associations, as well as other agencies. Using a relationship-marketing approach (Grönroos, 1997, Gummesson, 2002, Olkkonen, 1999), this article addresses the question, How do Canadian NSOs use the Web, in terms of functionality and services offered, to create and maintain relationships with sport participants and their sport-delivery partners? Ten Canadian NSOs’ Web sites were examined. Functionality was analyzed using Burgess and Cooper’s (2000) eMICA model, and NSOs’ use of the Internet to establish and maintain relationships with sport participants was analyzed using Wang, Head, and Archer’s (2000) relationshipbuilding process model for the Web. It was found that Canadian NSOs were receptive to the use of the Web, but their information-gathering and -dissemination activities, which make up the relationship-building process, appear sparse and in some cases are lagging behind the voluntary sector in the country.

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Kathy Babiak

Interorganizational relationships have become increasingly important for sport organizations. The purpose of this study was to explore the determinants and conditions of partnership formation in a group of collaborating nonprofit, public, and private organizations. A conceptual framework that includes the determinants of legitimacy, stability, necessity, asymmetry, reciprocity, and efficiency were used. Conditions including interdependence and presence of an interpersonal network were also explored. This research employed qualitative methods to examine partners’ reasons for developing interorganizational relationships in a sport context. For the collaborating organizations, the determinants of legitimacy, stability, reciprocity, and efficiency prevailed as important motives for relationship formation. These findings help to refine and apply contemporary theory to sport management and can be used to help manage interorganizational relationships.

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Elsa Kristiansen and Dag Vidar Hanstad

This case study explores the relationship between media and sport. More specifically, it examines the association (i.e., the contact and communication) between Norwegian journalists and athletes during the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, Canada. Ten athletes and three journalists were interviewed about their relationship. To regulate and improve the journalist–athlete relationship during special events like the Olympics, media rules have been formulated. In regard to the on-site interactions, they accepted that they are working together where one was performing and the other reporting the event “back home.” While the best advice is to be understanding of the journalists’ need for stories and inside information, the media coverage was perceived as a constant stress factor for the athletes. However, because of the media rules the athletes were able to keep their distance but one athlete did comment: “You will not survive if you take it personally.”

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Jamie A. Cleland

The development of “new” media and the financial investment in football since the early 1990s have dramatically changed the football club–media relationship. A number of clubs changed ownership and organizational structure for financial gain or financial survival while the increasing demand for immediate information led to clubs’ recognizing the importance of external communication. Drawing on 47 semistructured interviews with media personnel and 827 questionnaires completed by supporters at 4 football clubs, this article assesses the organizational structure of clubs in dealing with the media and supporters and the level of dependence between clubs and the external media. The results highlight changes in the organizational structure of clubs and their strategies for external communication, as well as the contrasting relationships between football clubs and the external media. As ownership and personnel changes occur, clubs should remember the importance of the 2-way relationships they are in with supporters and the media.

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Yuan Wang and Shuhua Zhou

Social media have been increasingly used by sports organizations to communicate with the public. This study explored the Twitter-using practices of National Basketball Association (NBA) clubs (N = 30) in the U.S. in building relationships with their fans during the 2013–14 season. Specifically, it focused on how these clubs used Twitter to build professional, personal, and community relationships through a content analysis of 5,561 tweets on their official Twitter sites. The results suggested that NBA clubs tended to use social media to develop professional relationships with their publics via sharing information and promoting products. There were significant relationships between relationship dimensions and the number of retweets and favorites from Twitter followers. Sports organizations should use social media effectively to strengthen the professional, personal, and community relationships with their publics.