In 1981, Donald Sterling became the owner of the San Diego Clippers, an ownership that would prove troublesome for the National Basketball Association (NBA). During his 33 years as an owner of the Clippers, Sterling had four major lawsuits for racial discrimination filed against him and was accused of running the organization with the vision of a “southern plantation-type structure.” On April 25, 2014, the allegations of racist behavior were taken to a new level when Sterling was recorded by his girlfriend, V. Stiviano, proclaiming racist statements toward minorities. The audio recording was put online for the world to hear (mere hours after the conversation) leading to extensive public backlash. Sterling’s comments ultimately led to his demise in the NBA, as NBA Commissioner Adam Silver announced, 4 days after the incident, that Sterling received a $2.5 million fine and was banned from the Clippers organization and the NBA for life. Given the immediacy of the spreading of information on the incident, the NBA and Commissioner Silver knew they had to manage the crisis as swiftly as possible. This case examines Sterling’s involvement with the NBA, his history with racism, and the NBA’s responses to the leaked recording. Multiple models for crisis management and decision making are discussed to help readers develop their own plan for working through organizational crises.
Megan Beth Shreffler, Gin Presley and Samuel Schmidt
Argyro Elisavet Manoli
An escalating number of crises appear in the sport industry in general and the football industry in particular that make the area of crisis communication an increasingly important matter in both the everyday running and the long-term viability of football. However, the sensitivity of the topic makes an extensive analysis on current practice in crisis communications a particularly challenging task. This study examines how crisis communications is managed by investigating the current practices and techniques employed in English Premier League clubs, as they were presented by communications professionals employed in the clubs. The analysis of the clubs’ practices underlines the lack of proactivity and presents the most popular strategies of crisis-communications management: “Wait for the dust to settle” and “React promptly before the noise grows.” In addition, an underdocumented technique is examined: the use of the informal personal relationships between the employees of the clubs and the members of the media. This study also introduces the “crisis communications management in football” model, which illustrates the practices identified through this study and can potentially act as a guide for crisis-communications analysis in a number of other industries.
Makayla Hipke and Frauke Hachtmann
This study used a case-study approach to develop an understanding of how social-media strategy is developed and deployed in Big Ten Conference athletic departments and to explore the issues associated with it. Based on in-depth interviews with department officials, the following 6 themes emerged: connecting with target audiences, varied approaches in coordination of postings, athletic communications as content gatekeepers, desire to incorporate sponsors and generate revenue, focusing on building fan loyalty through engagement, and challenges of negativity and metrics. The social-media strategy in Big Ten Conference athletic departments appears to be driven by athletic communications/sports information departments as opposed to marketing departments. The greatest benefit of social media has been the ease of engagement and instantaneous connection between fans and the teams they love, which can lead to building greater loyalty to a team. Some of the challenges departments face include having to deal with the reality of crises and negative attention around programs more quickly than with traditional media and to measure social-media success accurately.
Nicholas Hirshon and Craig Davis
Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, a sports and entertainment arena in Long Island, New York, encountered a public relations challenge in the 1990s. Nassau Coliseum, one of a few high-capacity venues in the New York metropolitan area, hosted the New York Islanders of the National Hockey League and concerts featuring headliners such as the Grateful Dead, New Kids on the Block, and Frank Sinatra. Nevertheless, the arena became a target for the world’s first all-sports radio station, WFAN 660 AM in New York City. WFAN hosts perpetuated the image of a dreary “Nassau Mausoleum” with dim lighting, long bathroom and concession lines, and a leaky roof. By placing students in the decision-making situation that confronted the Nassau Coliseum executives, this case explores various approaches to reputation management at sports venues.
Whitney W. Marks, Tiesha R. Martin and Stacy Warner
This case addresses the events leading up to the cancellation of the 2012 New York City Marathon in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. The case highlights the importance of making fair and timely decisions. The case is assembled based on newspaper accounts of the circumstances that led to New York City’s Mayor Bloomberg declaring the 2012 marathon would be held and then two days later canceling the event. The facts that were available to Mayor Bloomberg are presented in such a way that students can consider and analyze what they would have done and when, and how this may or may not differ from what actually occurred. Most importantly, the case highlights the decision-making process that many sport and event managers will encounter in the field when a weather-related event occurs in the midst of a planned athletic event. Consequently, the case provides students with an opportunity to critically examine the following: 1) how a sport organization should respond to a crisis; 2) the impact of decision-making on various event stakeholders; 3) the ethics involved in decision-making; and 4) how sport and event managers should respond to public criticism. The case is intended for use in classes focused on event management, sport ethics, and public relations.
Emily S. Sparvero, Stacy Warner and Angela N. Pratt
Lawrence A. Wenner
This case study examines the context of and reaction to the uncovering of singer Janet Jackson’s breast during the broadcast of the 2004 Super Bowl halftime show. Using a select thick reading of the event and its coverage, the analysis focuses on: a) the construction of the event by its organizational stakeholders, b) the reconstruction of understandings about how the fiasco came to be and what really happened and should have happened, and c) the deconstruction of the event by critics and those in the political environment who had reason to consider the incident and the response to it in a broader social context. Strategies for change and the prospects for “ethical health” in the sport marketplace are considered, with special attention given to promotional communication and crisis management.
allegations against Sandusky, the board relied on President Spanier’s assurance that the case was not a big deal. In addition, the board had several other failures following the scandal breaking. These incidents include the lack of a crisis management plan, firing Coach Paterno at night without providing him
Cole G. Armstrong, Theodore M. Butryn, Vernon L. Andrews and Matthew A. Masucci
of the words or descriptors used, it is a worthy exercise for sport management students to engage in crisis management exercises of this type, with an emphasis in how they might describe athlete activism to various stakeholders, while still retaining the original meaning of an athlete’s actions, and