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How Can Sport Contribute to Community Recovery from COVID-19 and Beyond?

By Yuhei Inoue (Manchester Metropolitan University), Daniel Lock (Bournemouth University), Leah Gillooly (Manchester Metropolitan University), Richard Shipway (Bournemouth University), & Steve Swanson (Deakin University)

Image by Kawolf via Wikimedia Commons

For this year’s International Day of Sport for Development and Peace, António Guterres—the United Nations’ secretary general—communicated his belief that “the world of sport has crucial contributions to make in forging a safe and sustainable recovery” from the COVID-19 pandemic. That sport may facilitate crisis recovery is hardly a new idea. In past crises—9/11, Hurricane Katrina, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake, to name a few—sport organizations and their members were said to have played important societal roles (Inoue & Havard, 2015). Yet little attempt has been made to explore “how” sport organisations can contribute to crisis recovery. 

The Organizational Identification and Well-being Framework, which we proposed in a recent article, seeks to answer this question. It rests on the capacity of sport organizations to serve as a prominent source of group identity (i.e., a shared sense of who “we” are) for individuals (Lock & Heere, 2017). People may identify with a range of social groups, such as ethnicity, gender, and religion. Yet what makes identification with a sport organization significant is that it tends to map onto other group identities (e.g., sport and geographic region; Heere & James, 2007). 

Moreover, once people identify with a sport organization, they gain access to shared resources (e.g., social support, relatedness) that can enhance their well-being (Inoue et al., 2015; Wann, 2006). As such, the central premise of our framework is that sport organizations—where they have capacity—can facilitate recovery from a crisis to the extent that they foster shared identification (i.e., sense of oneness) to galvanize support towards relief efforts. 

Roles of identity leadership

We do not assume that identification with sport organizations will always be instrumental in crisis recovery. Rather, our goal is to illustrate how leaders may reimagine their organizations’ in-group identity in a way that is meaningful in the crisis context. To do so, we draw upon identity leadership, which focuses on how group leaders cultivate in-group identity for their followers (Haslam et al., 2020; Reicher & Hopkins, 1996). Specifically, when situations surrounding a group change due to social events (e.g., crises), leaders may create a new vision for the boundaries (i.e., who is included in “us”) and content (i.e., what “we” exist to do) of an in-group to offer meaningful responses to the crisis (e.g., encouraging social distancing during COVID-19). 

How leaders define their in-group’s boundaries is important, because people tend to mobilize more resources for those included in the same group (i.e., in-group members) than for those excluded (i.e., out-group members). In addition, the content—or meaning—of in-group identity establishes a common understanding of how members should behave.

Exercising on a golf course. Image by Austin Community College via Flickr

Against this background, organizations and their leaders aiming to address new community needs created by a crisis should consider the following course of actions in relation to in-group boundaries (1) and content (2):

  1. Temporarily (or permanently in some cases) redefine the in-group to include both existing members (e.g., employees, fans, club members) and the broader population leaders seek to support (e.g., all residents affected by a crisis). For example, during the COVID-19 lockdown, executive boards of some British golf clubs decided to open their courses to the public—inclusive of both club members and other residents—to address an urgent community need for safe exercise spaces.
  2. Communicate a new or updated vision for the in-group to accentuate common experiences or needs shared during the crisis. This applies to the International Surfing Association’s use of International Surfing Day 2020. Through this event, the organization featured multiple surfers who had actively contributed to COVID-19 relief efforts and encouraged its followers to share similar stories on social media. This was a shift from the organization’s past annual celebrations that typically included paddle outs and beach clean-up, rendering its identity content more relevant and meaningful amidst COVID-19. 

In short, when responding to a crisis, leaders should try to align the boundaries and content of their organization’s identity with needs exacerbated by the crisis. This, in turn, will make identification with sport organizations an asset that can accelerate community-wide and cross-sector efforts to mobilize resources for those in need. 

Opportunities for future research

Some questions remain. For example, what if typical leaders, such as Chief Executive Officers and Presidents, lack experience or expertise (e.g., public health knowledge) in shaping a response to address common needs created by a crisis? Or, should organizations respond to a crisis even if they are inadequately resourced? In the article, we provide some preliminary answers to these questions; however, more theoretical and empirical developments will be needed to refine the framework. We hope our initial theorizing will inspire a new line of research that will further sport’s roles in contributing to recovery efforts for COVID-19 and beyond. 

Click here for the full article to be published in Sport Management Review.

References:

Haslam, S. A., Reicher, S. D., & Platow, M. J. (2020). The new psychology of leadership: Identity, influence and power(2nd ed.). Routledge.

Heere, B., & James, J. D. (2007). Sports teams and their communities: Examining the influence of external group identities on team identity. Journal of Sport Management21(3), 319–337. https://doi.org/10.1123/jsm.21.3.319

Inoue, Y., Funk, D. C., Wann, D. L., Yoshida, M., & Nakazawa, M. (2015). Team identification and postdisaster social well-being: The mediating role of social support. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice19(1), 31–44. https://doi.org/10.1037/gdn0000019

Inoue, Y., & Havard, C. T. (2015). Sport and disaster relief: A content analysis. Disaster Prevention and Management: An International Journal24(3), 355–368. https://doi.org/10.1108/DPM-12-2014-0276

Lock, D., & Heere, B. (2017). Identity crisis: A theoretical analysis of ‘team identification’ research. European Sport Management Quarterly17(4), 413–435. https://doi.org/10.1080/16184742.2017.1306872

Reicher, S., & Hopkins, N. (1996). Self-category constructions in political rhetoric; an analysis of Thatcher’s and Kinnock’s speeches concerning the British miners’ strike (1984-5). European Journal of Social Psychology26, 353–371.

Wann, D. L. (2006). Understanding the positive social psychological benefits of sport team identification: The team identification-social psychological health model. Group Dynamics: Theory, Research, and Practice, 10(4), 272–296. https://doi.org/10.1037/1089-2699.10.4.272

Between Patriarchy and Western Secularism: Islamic Feminism a new approach in Sport Management

By Umer Hussain

Umer Hussain recently defended his Ph.D. dissertation at Texas A&M University. Hussain research focuses upon understanding the intersection of race, religion, and gender in the sporting context. 

One of my Ph.D. colleagues, while arguing how religion is the cause of suppressing women’s rights in sport, underscored, “In the Western popular press, when the word ‘Muslim’ is used, one picture comes into my mind: oppressed women.” These remarks are pervasive to hear for any Muslim residing in Western society. However, as a practicing Muslim from my childhood, I have been told stories of how religion Islam liberated Arab women and gave them equal rights compared to Arab men. During my Ph.D. in sport management, I have also gone through a plethora of literature about Muslim culture. I found some fascinating studies focusing upon decolonizing the current scholarship; however, I have come across numerous studies trying to depict the two billion Muslim population as violent, retrograde, and bizarre. I found that in numerous studies, Western scholars make a wrong implied assumption that two billion Muslims are irrational; that is why they do not question various Islamic traditions. Indeed, Muslim men and women both have challenged various thoughts and transformed religious teachings per modern needs. However, the scholarship detailing Muslim world issues is highly tilted towards a Western ideology or, in other words, in imperialist and colonial views.

Likewise, the realm of sport management has primarily been established in North America. Thereby, scholars of Western origin have broadly researched the Muslim world and Muslim women. Hussain and Cunningham (2020) have underscored that Western sport management scholars investigate Muslim women living within and outside the Muslim world via a Western ocular. Scholars of Western origin homogenize Muslim women as weak and dominated subjects. Hussain and Cunningham (2020) also argued that the Western researchers’ primary thesis to understand Muslim women’s issues is grounded in White feminism. The White feminists advocate for global sisterhood; thus, they try to homogenize women as one singular entity. Hussain and Cunningham (2020) claimed that using White feminism as a theoretical approach delimits understanding of Muslim culture and further perpetuates systematic marginalization. For example, while researching Pakistani Muslim women, Hussain and Cunningham (2020) found that Pakistani Muslim women athletes had a strong anathema against the Western sporting paradigm and Western women participating in sport. Thus, the White feminism basic thesis is flawed and does not resonate with women’s heterogeneous experiences worldwide. Therefore, a new theoretical approach is warranted, especially to understand Muslim women’s issues in sport.

Some sociologists have advocated using Islamic feminism as a theoretical approach to understanding Muslim women’s issues (Badran, 2009, 2017; Bahlul, 2000). For example, Badran (2009, 2017) argued that Islamic feminism originated from feminist discourse within the Quran (Holy Book of Muslims) can offer a new means to explore Muslim culture. Islamic feminism calls for gender equality for women and men in the totality of their existence in the light of the Quran (Badran 2009, 2017). Islamic feminists defy both the patriarchal system inside the Muslim world and Western secularism (Bahlul, 2000). Islamic feminists reject the notion of being either religious or secular but argue for women empowerment per Quranic teachings (Badran, 2009, 2017)

In sport management scholarship, researchers have employed various theoretical frameworks to understand Muslim women’s issues. However, there remains a paucity of research using Islamic feminism as a theoretical perspective to empower Muslim women. Following the Islamic feminism approach, researchers can explore how gender segregation can enhance Muslim women’s sport participation and empower them. Islamic feminism can help scholars move beyond focusing on Muslim women’s clothing issues and explore other means through which Muslim women’s sport inclusion can be enhanced. For instance, the Islamic feminism approach can help researchers explore how Muslim women’s sport consumption and fandom could increase. Hence, Islamic feminism can be a new theoretical approach to enhance Muslim women’s sport inclusion. 

References

Badran, M. (2009). Feminism in Islam: Secular and Religious Convergences (Original ed.). Oneworld Publications.

Badran, M. (2017, August 8). Islam’s other half. The Guardian. https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/belief/2008/nov/09/islam-women

Bahlul, R. (2009). On the Idea of Islamic Feminism. Journal for Islamic Studies20(1), 33–62. https://doi.org/10.4314/jis.v20i1.48391

Hussain, U. & Cunningham, G. B. (2020). “These are ‘Our’ sports”: Kabaddi and Kho-Kho women athletes from the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. International Review for the Sociology of Sport (IRSS). Advance online publication. https://doi.org/10.1177/1012690220968111

Announcing a Proposed New Governance Structure for NASSM

by Damon Andrew, NASSM President and Bri Newland, NASSM President-Elect

As many of you know, the NASSM leadership has been exploring a governance restructure for nearly a decade. In 2013, then NASSM President Larena Hoeber appointed a task force of professional members – Bob Baker, Carol Barr, George Cunningham (Chair), Katie Misener, and Jim Weese – to explore options for structural and operational changes to the Society. The recommendations from that task force were advanced as Presidents George Cunningham, Laurence Chalip, and Lisa Kihl led the strategic planning efforts of the society over the next few years. In 2018, then NASSM President, Lisa Kihl, progressed the governance restructure effort as Chair of the NASSM Governance Task Force with professional members, Damon Andrew, Laura Burton, Milena Parent, Scott Tainsky, Nef Walker, and Mike Odio. Then one of this blog’s authors, Bri Newland, current President-Elect, took over as Chair from Lisa Kihl and have continued to lead the work of the task force – Mike Odio, Milena Parent, Damon Andrew, and Laura Burton, with Scott Tainsky as ex officio.

Current Situation & Issues

The current NASSM Executive Council functions as an operational board and has remained largely unchanged since its inception, though additional member-at-large positions have been added over time as operational needs grew along with the organization. As an operational board, the EC is composed of elected or appointed volunteers who learn and perform a variety of operational tasks throughout their terms of service. As NASSM grew, more positions were added to the Executive Council as a short-term strategy to meet the operational needs of the organization. Over time, this has resulted in a larger number of volunteers performing operational tasks on behalf of NASSM. However, the coordination of these operational tasks has increased, resulting in less time for proactive strategic governance by the Executive Council as the learning and performance of operational tasks has absorbed the efforts of its volunteer members. Moreover, long-term strategic planning for NASSM is challenging with the current structure of the Executive Council due to the limited terms of the leadership (i.e., president, president-elect, and past-president). Welcoming a new President each year, who must learn and perform a new set of operational duties in addition to leading the Executive Council, makes strategic leadership difficult. Past Presidents of NASSM have lamented that the wide variance of expected duties during the three years of total service is challenging. The President-Elect and Past-President years are primarily management-focused while the Presidency year is leadership-focused. Therefore, the current governance structure of NASSM with its operationally-focused Executive Council and short terms of service for officers actively works against the need for NASSM to be more proactive and strategic in its operation.

New Proposed Structure

Based upon the Executive Council and task force work referenced previously over the past decade as well as NASSM’s strategic plan, a strategic governing board paired with an executive director and personnel that perform operational duties would best serve NASSM as an organization, both now and for the foreseeable future. Thus, the current NASSM Governance Task Force has worked to develop a new governance model for the NASSM membership for consideration and vote. The following organizational chart illustrates the new structure (Figure 1).

Figure 1. Proposed NASSM Governing Board Structure

As noted in Figure 1, operational duties of the organization are proposed to be led by an Executive Director with the necessary experience to ensure the day-to-day operation of the organization is accomplished effectively. NASSM personnel, journal editors, and supporting standing committees with an operational focus would report through the Executive Director, who would report to the Governing Board. The Governing Board would include a President, Vice-President, and six officers who would serve longer staggered terms to support a strategic focus and the retention of organizational history, and the student representative would also serve on the governing board with a one-year term and optional renewals based on election outcomes. Moreover, certain standing committees with more of a strategic focus would report directly to the Governing Board, with the board enhancing communication through ex-officio service on those committees.

Next Steps & Call to Action

At the upcoming Annual General Meeting (AGM) held during the 2021 NASSM Conference, the membership will have the opportunity to vote on the adoption of this new structure. To support the possibility that the new governance structure may be adopted, the current NASSM Governance Task Force has prepared accompanying drafts of the NASSM Constitution and Operating Codes to allow the organization to immediately shift into this new model if the motion passes. Moreover, the task force has also prepared a transition plan that respects the service terms of those elected to the Executive Council while ultimately transitioning the organization to the longer and staggered service terms of the proposed Governing Board over a few transitional years. In order to prepare for this vote, the membership will have the opportunity to review the proposed constitution and operating code. These documents are available on the NASSM website (for access, log in with your NASSM membership in the upper right corner). In anticipation of potential questions about the governance structure and the accompanying transition details, NASSM President, Damon Andrew, and President-Elect, Bri Newland, will be hosting three Zoom Q&A seminars to discuss the new structure and answer any questions from members prior to the AGM. The meetings will be held on the following days:

Thursday, May 13 from 3-4pm EST

Monday, May 17 from 1-2pm EST

Thursday, May 20 from 2-3pm EST

Your feedback is incredibly important to us. Therefore, we urge all members to review the materials and join us for discussion prior to the AGM so that you will be fully prepared to vote during the limited time available at the AGM.

Best,

Drs. Damon Andrew and Bri Newland

President and President-Elect, NASSM

Teaching During a Pandemic: Tips And Tricks

By Ashley Ryder (Doctoral Candidate), Shea Brgoch (Doctoral Candidate), Evan Davis (Doctoral Candidate), and Derek Walton (Doctoral Student). All authors are from The Ohio State University Sport Management Program. Any questions can be directed toward Ashley Ryder on Twitter @AshleyNRyder

Teaching is a challenge. Teaching effectively is an art. Teaching during COVID-19 is… interesting, and we are all learning on the fly. Dealing with the loss of routine, a shift to online learning, and larger workloads has been tricky not only for us, but for students as well (Akyildiz, 2020). As instructors, we must empathize with students and help them succeed withinside the classroom. One way to help students is to make classrooms more inviting by utilizing online resources.

In the era of COVID-19, online learning has become the norm. Instructors can use online resources to promote student learning and engagement and help reduce stress. Whether teaching in-person, a mixture of in-person and online, or completely and especially online, there are several tools and strategies that can be implemented in your classroom to assist with student learning. We discuss some of them below. 

Learning Management System

One common online resource that is overlooked and underutilized is the learning management system (LMS). Faculty should embrace the movement towards maximizing their use of communication through online software and technology such as Canvas by Infrastructure or Blackboard, to ensure consistency and ease of access. This can be as simple as using an LMS’s “homepage” as the focal point of communication that serves as a one-stop shop for accessing course information for a given week, for example, including a to-do list (see the images below). Individuals are spending increased time on smartphones and future trends are leaning towards mobile devices to guide learning (Docebo, 2018).  Utilizing LMS platforms is advantageous because they are mobile accessible and allow students to quickly check course information without wireless internetat their own convenience (Bouchrika, 2020). 

Additional Online Learning Tools

Beyond the provided LMS system from your university, Padlet is an interactive digital board that can be accessed by instructors and students. Its features include the ability to post images, links, videos, and documents. All responses can be anonymous or require a name. Additional features include likes, comments, and thumbs up/down.  

Another digital tool option is Nearpod, a digital platform that allows instructors, in-person or virtual, to make their presentations interactive by incorporating features such as quizzes, polls, videos, and collaborate boards. The software is web-based and contains two modes: live mode (compatible with Zoom) or self-paced mode.  

Document Sharing

A discussion technique facilitated through the rotation of stations with guiding statements or questions with a collective dialogue to follow

Gallery Walk

With the shift to virtual learning, many discussion-based activities that are traditionally used in in-person classes can be modified for the online environment. For example, a gallery walk (i.e., discussion technique facilitated through the rotation of stations with guiding statements or questions with a collective dialogue to follow) or jigsaw (i.e., team-based; each member becomes a subject matter expert in one of 4 areas selected from current course material and teaches it to others) can be done by directing students to complete their sections in OneNote or a Google Doc (Serc, 2018; Van Amburgh et al., 2007).

Time Management

Outside of online resources, it is important to be empathetic and flexible with students as they learn to manage their time better. For example, allowing students to select their own assignment due dates and/or extending assignment due dates can give students greater flexibility in managing their overall course workload. Another way to help students is to check-in with them and inquire about their wellbeing throughout the semester. These check-ins can help identify areas students are struggling with, so they may be provided with the necessary support to adjust and adapt as needed.  

At the end of the day, nothing in COVID-19 is easy. Instructors and students are learning on the go and trying their best to simulate an in-person learning environment in a virtual world. During these challenging times, online resources can provide flexibility, and help ease the burden of teaching and learning in the COVID-19 environment.  

References

Akyildiz, S. T. (2020) College students’ views on the pandemic distance education: A focus group discussion. International Journal of Technology in Education and Science, 4(4), 322-334.

Bouchrika, I. (2020). List of learning management systems for schools and universities. Retrieved from https://www.guide2research.com/research/list-of-learning-management-systems-for-schools-and-universities

Docebo. (2018). E-Learning Trends 2019. Retrieved from 

https://kometa.edu.pl/uploads/publication/634/550a_A_Docebo-E-Learning-Trends-2019.pdf?v2.8.

Serc. (2018). What is gallery walk? Retrieved from https://serc.carleton.edu/introgeo/gallerywalk/what.html

Van Amburgh, J.A.V., Devlin, J.W., Kirwin, J.L., & Qualters, D.M., (2007). A tool for measuring active learning in the classroom. American Journal of Pharmaceutical  Education, 71(5), 1–8.


An Administrative Lens for the Modern Sport Leader

Craig P. DeAngelis, Ed.D., C.S.C.S. is a faculty member at Manhattanville College. He has an academic focus on organizational behavior and leadership. Please feel free to reach out to him via email at craigdeangelis@yahoo.com.

An interesting shift has taken place on the bottom “scroll” of cable sports networks. Scores and brief stat lines are still a fixture, but new content has been added. Information about leagues and players referencing politics or other social happenings are now present along with competition results. For example, during one week, there was a scroll topic related to the head coach of the Minnesota Lynx and one of her players calling on the NCAA to take action in response to legislative measures that they feel is restrictive for transgender athletes (Barnes, 2021). Another scroll topic was about Major League Baseball’s decision to move the 2021 All-Star Game out of Georgia. This move emulated the National Basketball Association’s decision to move their All-Star Game out of North Carolina in 2016 due to legislative action (Anderson, Fatsis, & Levin, 2021).

As fans process this new scroll content, they have the opportunity to form opinions based on personal beliefs. However, sport practitioners are not able to participate in the same individualistic thinking. People who are active in sports must be able to differentiate between their personal feelings and professional stance. Perhaps no group is more heavily impacted by this phenomenon than Athletic Administrators. These decision-makers are responsible for making timely decisions that are representative of their respective stakeholder groups. Undoubtedly, this is a daunting task. 

Recently, Southeastern Conference (SEC) Commissioner Greg Sankey reflected on a whirlwind of hypotheticals associated with the 2020 season, and in regards to the 2021 season stated “We will be prepared to play the season as scheduled and I can pivot off that approach” (Wilson, 2021). The “we” in his statement is not accidental, as he is speaking on behalf of the SEC. The “I” in his statement is in relation to how he will respond professionally but is not necessarily indicative of his personal beliefs.  

At no point in modern history have the minds of sport practitioners been so strenuously conflicted. Societal issues have burst through the sport-life divide in a way that has demanded the keen attention of all Athletic Administrators. While the most pressing matters have been championed by politicians and proclaimed in the media, this has not aided sport-based decision-makers. The determination of how to best balance personal enthusiasms with professional obligation remains largely unchecked.

Contrary to daily itineraries, Athletic Administrators do have “life” beyond sport. The availability to pursue personal passions away from the job are somewhat limited, but it is of the utmost importance for practitioners to foster personal passions and hone individual beliefs. Sport leadership is taxing and requires dynamic individuals to operate at peak performance. It is true that long work hours are coupled with expectations for winning, revenue generation, media scrutiny, and unsettled fan bases (Hancock, Balkin, Reiner, Williams, Hunter, Powell, & Juhnke, 2019; Daughters, 2013). But, no Athletic Administrator, regardless of trait composition, can truly perform at their best if the whole person is not addressed.

This is a point of tension in the modern climate. In their personal life, Athletic Administrators have been forced to wrestle with matters that elicit feelings of intense fervor. Their stance on current circumstances must be explored while potential steps of action are keenly considered. Simultaneously, in their professional life, a massive overhaul of typical function has been mandatory. Typically, added time spent on the job would alleviate this tension (Hancock, et al., 2019) However, current circumstances cannot be eased with additional on-the-job efforts. Therefore, on both fronts, there is no available timetable for completion. Consequently, the only clear path forward must be blazed by, a likely conflicted, Administrator.

The personality and stylistic leadership qualities of appointed Athletic Administrators inevitably mark organizational function. Athletic Leaders tend to be admired and extolled for their uncanny ability to motivate people and cause positive change (Powers, Judge, Makela, McKenna, & Voight, 2016). In some spaces, the “finger prints” of leadership are an asset, while in others they are a detriment. Regardless of outcome, Athletic Administrators must be cognizant of their overarching influence. As such, Administrative practitioners must be able to isolate personal preferences in contrast to organizational duty. A key challenge for Administrators is to balance decisions and satisfaction rewards (Hancock, et al., 2019). The sport-setting carries unique demands and should not be leveraged by leadership for personal gain. In the same vein, the Administrator must accurately determine the most appropriate steps independent of personal passions.

Mounting societal issues weigh heavily on Athletic Administrators. History would suggest that the incorporation of sport as a part of the solution is appropriate. Due to an increase of interaction between athletic departments and community organizations, research confirms there to be positive local outcomes (Svensson, Huml, & Hancock, 2014).  However, current cultural issues are not as easily discernable as the topics of yesteryear. Some matters may be close to the heart, but the Athletic Department as a whole might be unable to support large-scale change. The personal beliefs of the Athletic Administrator might not be shared in corporate magnitude. This may leave the Athletic Administrator feeling compromised as they sense that something should be done, also knowing that in the guise of the organization it may not be representative of best practice. 

There is a wise old Proverb that states “as a person thinks, so they are…”. It is in the cognitive, not the emotive where the Athletic Administrator must consider their actions. Internal tension can be alleviated if practical processing is accomplished. In order to do so, a perceptive filter is required. Using the context of their specific sport setting, matters should be classified in four distinct areas. These areas are defined as:

Capacity – the actual ability of an Athletic Department to realize a benchmark. Competency – the actual ability of the stakeholders involved in the Athletic Department.
Community – the impactful characteristics and expectations of the local area setting.
Competition – the demonstrated quality and/or outcomes of Athletic participation.

This classification system aids the Administrator in achieving operational success. As issues arise that ignite personal passion through individual held beliefs, the Athletic Administrator can rely on this structure for immediate lucidity. By categorizing where an issue applies, clarity can be gained on how it is best addressed. In applying this type of thinking the Athletic Administrator is forced to be intentional and true to their beliefs, regardless of organizational outcome. However, the cycle does not end here. Initial classification must be progressively aided by:

Diagnosis – identifying areas of needed improvement.
&
Development – making improvements on areas of needed improvement

Not all societal inquiries are equal. For some, action will be warranted within the Athletic Department and for others simple acknowledgement will suffice. It is vital for Athletic Administrators to carefully consider their actions despite the often-insurmountable external pressure. Modern culture has made a clear plea for change. Change should be embraced as a positive step for all sport-settings. However, Athletic Administrators cannot be held captive by events, social media trends, and narratives. Instead, to assure equitable movement at a meaningful pace, there must be a separation between personal desire and sport-organization needs. While the former might influence the latter, it can only be sustained with coordinated rationale and an eye on sustainable growth.

References
Anderson, J., Fatsis, S., & Levin, J. (April 7, 2021). Why Major League Baseball is Boycotting Georgia. Retrieved on April 10, 2021 from http://www.slate.com, https://slate.com/culture/2021/04/mlb-all-star-game-moved-atlanta-georgia-voting-law-sb202.html

Barnes, K. (April 9, 2021). Cheryl Reeve, Napheesa Collier of Minnesota Lynx call on NCAA to take action for transgender athletes. Retrieved on April 10, 2021 from http://www.espn.com, https://www.espn.com/college-sports/story/_/id/31222466/cheryl-reeve-napheesa-collier-minnesota-lynx-call-ncaa-take-action-transgender-athletes

Hancock, M. G., Balkin, R. S., Reiner, S. M., Williams, S., Hunter, Q., Powell, B., & Juhnke, G. A. (2019). Life balance and work addiction among NCAA administrators and coaches. Career Development Quarterly, 67(3), 264–270. https://doi.org/10.1002/cdq.12195

Powers, S., Judge, L. W., Makela, C., McKenna, J., & Voight, M. (2016). An investigation of destructive leadership in a Division I intercollegiate athletic department: Follower perceptions and reactions. International Journal of Sports Science & Coaching, 11(3), 297–311.

Svensson, P. G., Huml, M. R., & Hancock, M. G. (2014). Exploring intercollegiate athletic department-community partnerships through the lens of community service Organizations. Journal of Higher Education Outreach and Engagement, 18(4), 97–128.

Wilson, M. (March 1, 2021). SEC preparing to play 2021 football season as scheduled, commissioner Greg Sankey says. Retrieved on April 10, 2021 from http://www.azcentral.com, https://www.azcentral.com/story/sports/college/university-of-tennessee/mens-basketball/2021/03/01/sec-football-season-schedule-2021-greg-sankey/6870079002/

A Foreign Territory of Opportunities: Experiences of a Sport Management International Student

Nina is a second-year PhD student at the University of Louisville. Her research focuses on establishing and maintaining sport partnerships in parasports and developing successful adaptive sports programs. A German Native, Nina is a Fulbright alumnus and has lived, studied, and worked in four countries.

November 14, 2017 – the day my life changed forever, and my biggest dream came true. I was in Arnhem, Netherlands, a senior in the International Business and Management Studies program at the Arnhem Business School. I was delighted to see an email informing me that I had been awarded the 2018-2019 Fulbright Scholarship. I opened the email and read it over and over again because I simply could not believe it. A few sleepless nights later (because I was so excited), I received another email from Fulbright Germany informing me that I had been chosen to pursue a master’s degree in Sport Administration at the University of Louisville (UofL). My journey of studying in the U.S. began here and continues to this day.

On my first day at UofL, I realized I was the only foreign student in the program. As a German who  completed my undergraduate degree with students from various regions of the world in both the Netherlands and Hong Kong, this was foreign territory to me. Classes were incredibly challenging in the beginning because I was unfamiliar with most of the sport examples discussed. I spoke with my professors and classmates and informed them that I could not relate to the class content with these foreign (to me) examples. That turned the tide and my professors and peers took extra time to expand and explain the examples used in class. Soon I was learning about sport in the U.S. and sharing my experiences of sport and life in other countries. Embracing the American sports world outside the classroom, I found myself on the court at United Centre, home of Michael Jordan and the famed Chicago Bulls, volunteering at the NCAA Men’s Final Four tournament! I was one of 72,000 people in the stadium and made lifelong friends through this experience.

At the NCAA Men’s Final Four tournament in Minneapolis

To immerse myself in the American sport culture and make the most of my time in the U.S., I decided to pursue an internship with the development department (Cardinal Athletic Fund) of Louisville Athletics. This internship gave me the opportunity to learn from some of the best development directors in the nation. I was able to work during football games and men’s basketball games, which provided me with a once in a lifetime experience and incredibly valuable connections. If I can give one advice to foreign students, it is to network. And guess what, turns out an accent is always going to be a conversation starter!

While my Fulbright scholarship fulfilled my lifelong dream of studying in the U.S. and pursuing a degree in Sport Administration (a goal from 5th grade), it was not the end of my journey in America. My professors opened doors for me that I did not think existed for a first-generation college student. Thanks to Dr. Mary Hums, I was able to stay at UofL, and am now pursuing a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership and Organizational Development, specializing in Sport Administration. My doctoral degree is funded by a University Fellowship.

Dr. Mary Hums and I during my master’s graduation ceremony, May 2019. She is my advisor and will be my dissertation chair

It is said that the U.S. is the country of opportunities, and I can confirm, that for me, it has been. Since starting my doctoral program, I have gained opportunities to teach and be involved in research projects. I have taught classes in Sport Finance, International Sport, and Issues and Ethics in Sport. This has given me valuable experience in lecturing, designing and grading assignments, and learning from student feedback. I have been involved in several research activities, such as preparing a grant proposal for International Sport Programming, and a study with my peers in the doctoral program examining college adaptive sport sponsorship and the role of cause-related marketing. Being involved with these projects has given me new skills in qualitative and quantitative research methods, grants and report writing, and working as part of a team. I have attended and presented at a variety of academic conferences, which has improved my ability to present in front of an audience and answer questions on the spot. Additionally, I have had the privilege of speaking with middle and high school students in various cities in Kentucky about the importance of intercultural and international exchange.

Speaking to High School students during International Education Week 2018 on behalf of Reach the World and Fulbright

If you are an international student thinking about studying or are currently studying in North America, I urge you to seek opportunities, dream bigger, and work harder because you will be rewarded with an experience unlike any other. To U.S.-based students, educators, and administrators, embrace the knowledge and nurture the talent of your international students. It will not only be valuable to them, but also to you.

Do you have any questions about studying in the U.S., my experiences, and or working with international students? Do not hesitate to reach out to me: nina.siegfried@louisville.edu 

Has sport had its #MeToo moment? Women’s experiences of sexism and sexual harassment in the sport industry

By: Lauren Hindman lhindman@umass.edu | @laurenhindman

Lauren is a doctoral candidate at the Mark H. McCormack Department of Sport Management at UMass Amherst, where she studies gender and other diversity-related topics in sport organizations. Prior to pursuing her Ph.D., she spent nine seasons working in professional sports.

Following both the January 2021 firing of New York Mets general manager Jared Porter over sexually explicit text messages he sent to a woman reporter and the July 2020 reporting of the sexism and sexual harassment experienced by women working with the Washington Football Team, women working in sport organizations took to social media to share their own stories. Moments such as this highlight how common sexism and harassment are for women in the industry, yet their stories quickly fade to the background until the next big scoop arrives, exposing a singular sport organization and attributing the problem to internal issues of organizational culture and leadership (see also: The Dallas Mavericks circa 2018). 

The issue of sexism in and around the sport industry is widespread—“commonly overt yet simultaneously unnoticed,” as Dr. Janet Fink said in her acceptance address for Earle F. Zeigler Lecture Award at the 2015 NASSM conference (Fink, 2016, p. 2). Recent research in sport management reveals how women managers, athletes, coaches, journalists, and educators experience sexism and harassment. Some highlights from these studies include: 

Administration: Women sport managers working for men’s professional sport organizations face both intellectual diminishment and physical objectification, causing emotional and professional consequences. Women adopt several strategies, such a minimization and reframing of their experiences, in order to continue working in the industry (Hindman & Walker, 2020).

Athletes: An analysis of media coverage and academic literature demonstrated how these sources subject women athletes in the United States to gendered microaggressions, a subtle form of bias, through assuming that they are inferior to men, objectifying their bodies, and restricting them to certain roles based on their gender (Kaskan & Ho, 2016). Another study deemed media coverage of women’s sports “gender-bland” sexism, avoiding overt sexism while still presenting women’s sports as “lackluster” compared to men’s (Musto et al., 2017).

Coaches: A recent study found that women swimming coaches in the NCAA face sexism that limits their career mobility, creates job dissatisfaction, and contributes to women’s underrepresentation by pushing them to leave the field (Siegele et al., 2020). In addition, research reveals how women of color coaches must navigate multiple barriers created by the intersectional issues of racism and sexism (Carter-Francique & Olushola, 2016).

Journalists:  Research has shown that sexist views lead people to judge women sport journalists as less credible (Mudrick et al., 2017). Meanwhile, women journalists are pressured by their employers to wear revealing clothing to appeal to male audiences, but then face “slut-shaming” for dressing too provocatively (Harrison, 2019).

Academics: Women faculty members in sport management programs too report sexism and sexual harassment from both men and women colleagues, ranging from subtle discrimination to hostile harassment (Taylor et al., 2018). Women faculty members also experience “contrapower” harassment (harassment from individuals in positions of less power), facing comments about their appearance and assumptions that they don’t know anything about sports (Taylor et al., 2017).

Studies such as these and others demonstrate the wide-reaching effects of sexism and sexual harassment across sport. Industry leaders should be proactive in addressing this issue, as our recent Journal of Sport Management study revealed that women often do not report sexism to supervisors or human resources personnel (Hindman & Walker, 2020). Instead, leaders should be cognizant of watching for such issues and focus on promoting inclusive organizational cultures, rather that simply striving to increase gender diversity and waiting to respond when crises emerge. While women in our study reframed their experiences with sexism as a demonstration of their personal strength, they also reported leaving jobs—and considering leaving the industry—due to sexism. In order for the sport industry to achieve sustained gender diversity, then, leaders must confront the need to eliminate sexism and sexual harassment from their organizations.

References/Further Reading:

Carter-Francique, A. R., & Olushola, J. (2016). Women coaches of color: Examining the effects of intersectionality. In Women in sports coaching (pp. 81-94). Routledge.

Fink, J. S. (2016). Hiding in plain sight: The embedded nature of sexism in sport. Journal of Sport Management30(1), 1-7.

Harrison, G. (2019). “We want to see you sex it up and be slutty:” post-feminism and sports media’s appearance double standard. Critical Studies in Media Communication36(2), 140-155.

Hindman, L. C., & Walker, N. A. (2020). Sexism in professional sports: How women managers experience and survive sport organizational culture. Journal of Sport Management34(1), 64-76.

Kaskan, E. R., & Ho, I. K. (2016). Microaggressions and female athletes. Sex Roles74(7-8), 275-287.

Mudrick, M., Burton, L., & Lin, C. A. (2017). Pervasively offside: An examination of sexism, stereotypes, and sportscaster credibility. Communication & Sport5(6), 669-688.

Musto, M., Cooky, C., & Messner, M. A. (2017). “From Fizzle to Sizzle!” Televised sports news and the production of gender-bland sexism. Gender & Society31(5), 573-596.

Siegele, J. L., Hardin, R., Taylor, E. A., & Smith, A. B. (2020). ” She is the Best Female Coach”: NCAA Division I Swimming Coaches’ Experiences of Sexism. Journal of Intercollegiate Sport13(1).

Taylor, E. A., Smith, A. B., Rode, C. R., & Hardin, R. (2017). Women don’t know anything about sports: Contrapower harassment in the sport management classroom. Sport management education journal11(2), 61-71.

Taylor, E. A., Smith, A. B., Welch, N. M., & Hardin, R. (2018). “You should be flattered!”: Female sport management faculty experiences of sexual harassment and sexism. Women in Sport and Physical Activity Journal26(1), 43-53.

Sticking Together as We Move Forward

Ehren R. GreenLinkedIN

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Ehren is a second-year doctoral student at the University of Louisville. Before returning to school for her PhD, Ehren worked in intercollegiate athletics for ten years as well as in training and development in both the private and public sector. 

The challenges of Covid-19 have pushed us out of our personal and professional comfort zones. We have learned a lot about ourselves and about others during this time. As we enter 2021, we face the challenge of helping lead our industry through the transition – from the way things were, to the way things are, and to who we want to be moving forward. To be successful in this transition, a continued investment in ourselves and in each other is necessary. We can no longer just be experts in our field, but need to invest in ourselves, as people leaders, to build productive and healthy teams. 

In the sports industry we rely on other people, from faculty members collaborating on research projects to practitioners working together to make sure a game happens. However, how do we ensure we are effective team members? As contrary as it sounds, it starts with self-understanding. We must be grounded in who we are and understand what we bring to the team. There are numerous self-assessments and personality profiles available, including CliftonStrengths, DiSC, and Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) to name a few. While there are differences in the assessments, what each of them brings is a level of self-awareness for individuals and an understanding of differences in others. As a certified MBTI practitioner, I’ve learned a lot about myself through the MBTI. For example, I know that I innately need to see the big picture in projects (this is identified as the intuition preference for MBTI). I also recognize that others see projects as steps in a sequential order (this is the sensing preference in the MBTI). This difference can be a major source of conflict when not understood. Team members can talk around each other, not understanding what the other is explaining, leading to frustration and a negative emotional response. However, when teams know each other’s preferences it becomes shared language and a strategy for utilizing each other’s strengths. By using a tool like the MBTI we can gain self-awareness and create a unified understanding of others as a first step in creating successful teams. 

Considering most events in the sport industry occur under high stress, it’s important that we recognize the role of emotions, both in ourselves, and in our interactions with others. Emotional intelligence is an important skill required for productive teamwork. Defined as, “the ability to monitor one’s own and other’s feelings and emotions, to discriminate among them and to use this information to guide one’s thinking and actions” (Salovey & Mayer, 1990, p. 189), emotional intelligence recognizes the behavioral element of human interactions and the role emotions play in those interactions. Goleman and Boyatzis (2017) developed an emotional and social intelligence leadership competency model that identifies four domains of emotional intelligence: self-awareness, self-management, social awareness, and relationship management. The table below defines each domain and lists strategies to develop competencies in each. 

EI DomainDefinitionStrategy
Self-awareness“Here is what is going on”Tune into your senses
Recognize your triggers
Get feedback
Self-management“This is what I need to do”Count to ten
Pause before you respond
Social awareness“Accurately recognizing other’s emotions”Practice empathy
Be present
Relationship management“Utilizing my awareness to build relationships”Have the tough conversations
Acknowledge individual strengths

One of the simplest and most effective emotional intelligence strategies is the power of pausing before responding. Pausing engages our thinking brain, forcing us to respond consciously rather than emotionally. Additionally, pausing increases your ability to recognize your triggers and your emotional responses to those triggers. To build effective teams, we must acknowledge the role of emotions in our environments.  

As an industry we will continue to face new challenges in 2021, but one constant will be the need for effective teamwork. Self-understanding (e.g., MBTI, etc.) and emotional intelligence can guide our industry as we continue to build effective teams. 

References: 
Goleman, D., & Boyatzis, R.E. (2017, February 6). Emotional intelligence has 12 elements. Which do you need to work on? Harvard Business Review, 2-5
Salovey, P., & Mayer, J.D. (1990). Emotional intelligence. Imagination, Cognition, and Personality, 9, 185-211.

Together, Apart or Somewhere in Between: Considerations for Managing Para Sport

By Darda Sales. The author is currently a PhD candidate at Western University in London, Ontario.

As a four-time Paralympian, coach, and PhD candidate, I have heard the statement ‘Sport is sport’ numerous times and I agree that the goals of sport are consistent for able-bodied and para athletes: enjoyment, competition, pushing oneself to be the best one can be at their chosen activity. However, to ensure sport and physical activity meets its intended outcomes and is beneficial to all participants, sport managers working in para sport need to be aware of the discussion surrounding segregation and integration.

Segregated Para Sport Opportunities:

Segregated sporting opportunities allow para athletes to be themselves without the impact of ableist views weighing in on them. In my experience, segregation provides opportunities to be with only those with similar experiences, and these segregated environments allow para athletes to build their self-confidence and skills in an environment set up to meet their particular needs. It helps them connect with others who share similar background experiences. It also allows para athletes to make mistakes, to stumble and fail in an accepting environment, with less concern of judgement or scrutiny. Intended or not, a lot of pressure can be placed on para athletes if they feel that they are being expected to live up to the same standards as able-bodied athletes (Wolbring, 2012). A segregated environment can relieve that pressure and allow para athletes to develop their own skills, at their own pace, and in their own way.

Integrated Para Sport Opportunities:

Alternatively, integration is the intermixing of para and able-bodied athletes (Howe, 2007).  In Canada, para sport has seen an increase in training and competitive opportunities when sports such as swimming and athletics began to be integrated in the 1990s. Integration allows for increased access to educated coaches and well-equipped facilities. It allows para athletes to challenge themselves alongside other athletes who are chasing similar goals and dreams, whether those other athletes have impairments or not.

Note of Caution: simply allowing para athletes into your program is not true integration (Berry, 1996). Thought and consideration needs to be given to include para athletes in a meaningful way into programs offered. Having a para athlete in a program continually struggling to keep up with their non-impaired counterparts or fitting into a prescribed program or sitting on the sidelines is not true integration (Berry, 1996).

The integration of para athletes needs to receive consideration and thought as to what works best for the functional level of the para athlete, where they are now, where they have the potential to get to, and a set plan on how to help them reach their full potential. Swimming Canada is an example of an organization that continues to put time, effort and resources into improving the integration of para athletes within their programming.

A Hybrid Approach:

A fitness center with both a general and a women’s only workout room is a comparable idea to the optimal training environment for para athletes.  The women’s only room allows women to exercise in a segregated environment with others with similar experiences.  Women’s only rooms tend to have smaller equipment to fit the smaller size of some women, and provides them with a comfortable, judgement-free environment. The general room, in which people of all shapes, sizes, genders, and experiences exercise, tends to have heavier weights and more equipment. Women are welcome to train in whichever environment works best for their personal comfort and training needs. Sporting opportunities for para athletes need to take on a similar thought process as not one environment, segregated or integrated, will always be the best fit for all para athletes.

Having experienced both segregated and integrated training and competition opportunities as a para athlete, I fully believe that there is a time and place for both environments. If sport managers recognize and accommodate this need, it can result in long term para athlete engagement and success within their programs.