While largely discounted as a genuine sport by most, professional wrestling has evolved from a minor source of “entertainment” to a culturally powerful multi-media complex. Attracting audiences in abundance of fifty million viewers on a weekly basis, professional wrestling has become the number one rated “sports-entertainment” program on television. In doing so, professional wrestling broadcasts challenge long-standing cultural constructions of sport in North America, while hyperbolising and unapologetically exploiting that which is highly entertaining about professional sports contests. Specifically, professional wrestling's mandate is to excite audiences via contrived and hyper-violent athletic competition. Drawing on Elias' (1978, 1983, 1994, 1996) and other process-sociologists' (Dunning, 1999; Maguire, 1999; Sheard, 1999) understanding of mimesis, it is argued here that professional wrestling derives the bulk of its cultural appeal from the ways in which the staged violence is presented as both “sporting” and “exciting” to audiences.
Julia Weber and Natalie Barker-Ruchti
During the 1970s, a new corporal and aesthetic standard emerged in women’s artistic gymnastics. No longer was grace and elegance the main feature, but acrobatic and somewhat robotic performances. These exercises were increasingly performed by highly trained and sexually immature girls. The Western audience was fascinated by the athletic and innocent-looking gymnasts. The emerging corporality and performance trend combined youthfulness und slimness with physical fitness and muscular tone, a combination that reflected the idealized woman of the 1970s. Sports photographs played a key role in distributing the “new” ideal of femininity. In this article, we consider how gymnasts’ performances of the 1970s were visualized by examining a sample of professional sports photographs. We demonstrate how sports photographs construct and establish gender and body standards through their visual construction of gendered and de-gendered gymnastics performances.
John A. Fortunato
In being named by Sporting News magazine as the most powerful person in sports for the 20th century, former NFL commissioner Pete Rozelle is largely given credit as the visionary who developed the economic model for professional sports leagues. It was Rozelle’s idea to sell the league’s television broadcast rights as a collective entity to the highest bidding network, then have all teams share that revenue equally to help ensure competitive balance. In addition to developing an economic model that improved the brand quality of the NFL, Rozelle should be recognized as a pioneer in applying branding principles to the sports industry. This article demonstrates that Rozelle was instrumental in defining the current sports brand as more than games, but including many strategic communication initiatives. In applying Shank’s model for the branding process, Rozelle increased the NFL’s brand awareness and fostered its brand image, thus increasing the league’s brand equity and ultimately fan loyalty. Rozelle’s actions helped transform the NFL and continue to influence the entire sports industry today.
David Rolfe and Steve Dittmore
Traditional sports ticket sales have followed a basic model of tickets in exchange for cash or credit. In an evolving and competitive market, sports marketing professionals must adapt and consider alternate forms of ticket sales. This case study follows Julie Lin, the director of ticket sales for a fictional National Hockey League expansion team, the Seattle Salmon. In an effort to align with the strategic vision of being considered a highly innovative sports franchise, Lin is considering accepting Bitcoin, a virtual currency, as a form of payment. Considered a “cryptocurrency,” Bitcoin is awarded through the solving of complex computer riddles, is devoid of a physical form, has no government or regulatory body backing it, and has value based largely on speculation. Bitcoin has found popularity and legitimacy among technology companies and companies considered to be innovative. At the present time, three professional sports accept Bitcoin for the purchase of tickets. This case will follow Lin and her exploration of Bitcoin within her franchise. Readers will consider positive and negative aspects of Bitcoin in a sports ticketing environment, and ultimately present an educated and data-driven recommendation regarding the details of this case.
Cheri Bradish and J. Joseph Cronin
Over the past decade, there has been a groundswell of support within the sport industry to be “good sports”, as evidenced by a growing number of, and commitment to, “giving” initiatives and “charitable” programs. Consider the following examples:
• In 1998, the “Sports Philanthropy Project” was founded, devoted to “harnessing the power of professional sports to support the development of healthy communities.” (Sports Philanthropy Project, 2009) To date, this organization has supported and sustained over 400 philanthropic-related organizations associated with athlete charities, league initiatives, and team foundations in the United States and Canada.
• In 2003, “Right To Play” (formerly Olympic Aid) the international humanitarian organization was established, which has used sport to bring about change in over 40 of the world's most disadvantaged communities. Of note is their vision to “engage leaders on all sides of sport, business and media, to ensure every child's right to play” (www.righttoplay.com).
• In 2005, the Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA) became one of the first sport organizations to create an internal corporate social responsibility unit, and soon thereafter committed a significant percentage of their revenues to related corporate social responsibility programs (FIFA, 2005).
Stephen L. Shapiro, Tim DeSchriver and Daniel A. Rascher
Luxury suites have become a key revenue source and an important element of sport facility design for professional sport organizations. There are a variety of factors influencing the pricing of luxury suites; however, the recent recession has impacted the premium seat sales market significantly. The current investigation was the first empirical examination of luxury suite pricing determinants for professional sport facilities. An economic model, utilizing multiple regression analysis, was constructed to examine the relationship between the current price of luxury suites for major North American professional sports facilities and selected demographic, economic, and team/facility/league-specific explanatory variables, in a uncertain economic climate. The final economic models were found to be significant, explaining 57% and 60% of the variability in luxury suite prices, respectively. Significant variables of interest included team performance and league affiliation, which had a positive influence and the number of competing venues, which had a negative influence on luxury suite prices. The current findings further the body of knowledge in the pricing of admissions to sporting events though the development of the first pricing determinants models for luxury suites, which take into consideration the tenuous economic environment.
This paper derives equivalent gross salary for Major League Baseball free agents weighing offers from teams based in states with different income tax rates. After discussing tax law applicable to professional sports teams’ players, including “jock taxes” and the interrelationship of state and federal taxes, this paper builds several models to determine equivalent salary. A base-case derivation, oversimplified by ignoring nonsalary income and Medicare tax, demonstrates that salary adjustment from a more tax expensive state’s team requires solely a state (but not federal) tax gross-up. Subsequent derivations, introducing nonsalary income and Medicare tax, demonstrate full Medicare but small federal tax gross-ups are also required. This paper applies the model to equalize salary offers from two teams in different states in a highly stylized example approximating the 2010 free agency of pitcher Cliff Lee. Aspects of the models may also be used to inform other sports’ players of their after-tax income if salary caps limit the ability to receive adequately grossed-up salaries.
Numerous educational institutions and professional sports teams still use Native American mascots, despite strong opposition ranging from Native American groups to the American Psychological Association. Fans, community members, and teams defend the mascots by asserting that they honor Native American peoples. Sports journalists occupy a unique location in the debate, as they regularly cover teams with such mascots and commonly refer to them in stories. In light of this ongoing debate and pressure to change reporting practices, this research used a survey to examine sports reporters’ experiences and attitudes toward Native American mascots and their beliefs about the role they themselves should take in the public debate. Results show an overall lack of support for Native American mascots, with key differences based on participant race, job title, and belief in the value that sports bring to society. Furthermore, sports journalists appear to support taking a public stand on the issue but resist the idea of eliminating mascot references from stories. The author discusses the implications of these findings in light of the growing movement to ban these mascots, as well as the evolving role that sports journalists embody at the intersection of sports and social issues.
The work that rule enforcement officials do in sports is more difficult to evaluate than popular imagination would suggest. Officials are not expected to call every infraction of the rules; in fact, they are expected not to. It is not the correctness of a call (or non-call) that is at issue, therefore, but the fairness of a pattern of discretionary calls. Using the work of National Hockey League linesmen and referees as examples, this article describes three methods used by professional sports leagues to produce fairness on the part of officials and, more importantly, to prove that fairness has been accomplished. I have characterized these methods as the procedural production of consistency, the substantive production of consistency, and the supervision of officials’ work. The failure of these methods to produce compelling and objective evidence of fairness supplies a persistent and essentially unresolvable problem for those who man the social control apparatus. Ironically, the tension that this problem generates, and the attention therefore paid to the issue of fairness, is probably the best guarantee that fairness is produced.
Karen H. Weiller and Catriona T. Higgs
Patriarchal ideology and subsequent gender differences are reproduced in various cultural practices, with organized sport being one of the most important and critical arenas for perpetuating this ideology. Conventions for representing gender in mass media have come under increasing scrutiny during the last 25 years (Boutilier & San Giovanni, 1983; Higgs & Weiller, 1994; Weiller & Higgs, 1993). In this study we endeavored to increase current understanding of how gender is represented in the production and content of televised coverage of four professional golf tournaments. Both quantitative and qualitative research methods were used to analyze the content of gender images in televised coverage of womenis and men’s professional golf tournaments. Based upon the results, gender marking/comparisons were consistently present throughout the two women’s events examined, and differentials existed with respect to time allocations in story focus for male and female golfers. Noticeable differentials were found in commentators’ descriptions of strength, as well as type of personal information provided.With this study, an extention of previous research, we demonstraed that what is occurring in media representation of female athletes is mirrored in the professional world. In addition we advance the coverage by previous researchers and highlight the inequities that exist in one of the few areas of professional sports open to women.