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

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/

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.

Sport Management Degrees: Teaching So Much More Than Sport

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By Barry Person, Jr. Assistant Professor, Sport and Recreation Management
SUNY Delhi

3EBA0F76-8495-4B60-B080-14C5502D29D8As a Sport Management professor, I am always asked what can my child/I do with a Sport Management degree, the answer is change the world. Bradbury and O’Boyle (2017) stated that sport management has come a long way in the past 20 years; the sport management environment has now evolved into a legitimate professional and commercial sector and continues to grow in size and scope in many nations throughout the world. Yet, the power and applicability of the Sport Management degree fails to garner enough attention. This blog aims to highlight the universal application a Sport Management degree can have within the global economy and society to generate both change and recovery.

The COVID-19 pandemic and current civil justice unrest has provided the unique opportunity for the value and importance of the Sport Management degree to address these issues, not only in academia but also within larger society, to be broadcasted. The notion that sport is a microcosm of society is no secret, but the truth and sustainability of this statement is now being tested. Pending global and societal changes, and advancements which arise from the world’s current situation, can highlight how sport is not only a microcosm of society, but a tool for societal change. Sport is one of the few things in the world that can serve as a universal language and bond. Touchdowns, goals, slam dunks, and home runs are terms that almost anyone in the world can comprehend the meaning of, regardless of their interest in the given sport for which the term is associated. The same can be said for fans who see others with the same jersey, alma mater, or sporting t-shirt; a special bond is instantly created no matter the race, gender, or religion of the individuals involved. So, seeing that sport has become one of the focal points to help stimulate economic recovery, civil unity, and support social justice is no surprise.

However, what is not being highlighted enough is the educational foundation which frames the future of the sport industry. Sport Management degrees hold the power to inspire and spur change within all aspects of sports and society. More importantly, such a degree serves as the foundation from which the push for equality within all levels of sporting administration can truly be achieved. The more sporting organizations become united and equally diverse, so will the society in which we live. The more that the world is shown equality amongst sport ownership, upper management, and coaching/leadership, the more society will embrace the same principles. The realization that Sport Management degrees go beyond coaching and training, but also deal with functioning in the global marketplace and all the social issues that arise within it, should no longer be ignored. To best understand how and why sport has been called upon to kickstart efforts for social justice and diverse equality, one must be well versed in the principles of sport management itself. So as sport continues to be the shining star in the road to global and social recovery, let us not forget the Sport Management degree in this process as well.

The same can be said for the eventual economic recovery for many countries. We regularly see the impact that geopolitics has on the sport management environment through the selection of countries to host mega sporting events such as the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup (Bradbury & O’Boyle, 2017). The current push by the entire world to get their sporting leagues back in action, speaks directly to this statement. While sports may not look the same in terms of fans in the stands and/or the postponement of the Olympics, it does not take away from a sporting event’s ability to be an economic stimulant. As restaurants, bars, and clubs continue to reopen, so do the opportunities for sports fans to gather and support these businesses. Being able to identify, create, adjust to, and market such opportunities are core principles within Sport Management studies regardless of institution. So be it in North America, England, Korea, or Italy, Sport Management studies are intertwined in some fashion with all that we do and will be vital to change and recovery. So, to restate what can be done with a Sport Management degree, in a nutshell whatever one chooses to do in order to impact the world, society, and/or economy through sport. The broad applicability and unique perspective which can be developed through sport management studies, offers a one of a kind educational experience that thanks to COVID-19 and current civil unrest, will no longer be cast into the secondary programming tier at institutions of higher learning.

References
Bradbury, T., & O’Boyle. (2017). Understanding sport management international perspectives. New York, NY: Routledge.

Sport Ecology: all it is, and all it could be

Madeleine Orr* & Walker Ross**

*Madeleine is a PhD candidate at the University of Minnesota. She currently teaches in the Sport Administration program at Laurentian University in Canada.

** Walker is a PhD candidate at the University of South Carolina.

As PhD students, we often answer the question: “what’s your area of specialization?” It’s a reasonable question: it’s important have a clear and consistently personal brand on the job market. But, what if your research doesn’t fit into one of the established ‘sub-disciplines’ of sport management?

When we met in 2017 (via Twitter posts on sustainability, of course), we compared notes and realized we both got the same ‘what’s your specialization’ question, and that answers such as ‘I study sport and the natural environment’ or ‘sport sustainability’ didn’t seem to satisfy the inquisitor. Perhaps the better answer is ‘sport ecology’, as this term is broad enough to include the full breadth and depth of the relationship between sport and the natural environment.

We’d like to use this blog to advance the understanding that the relationship between sport and the natural environment is complex and dynamic, ever-present yet ever-changing, meriting a subdiscipline of its own. What it comes down to, is that sport’s relationship with the natural environment is about more than just recycling and turning off lights.

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Concept Art for Forest Green Rovers’ proposed stadium in UK, made of sustainably sourced wood a caption

For example, sport ecology would encompass research on:

  • Weather and environmental conditions of sport,
  • Sport in natural versus artificial environments,
  • Impacts of climate change on sport,
  • Methods for making sport more environmentally sensitive and sustainable,
  • And more…

As a starting point, it is important to recognize the fundamental relationship that sport has with its environment. Many sports developed out of social-ecological connections in their places of origin. Think of golf (from Scotland), ice hockey (from Canada), or surfing (from Polynesia). Changes to the planet’s ecological state, coupled with rapid globalization and commercialization, have and will continue to alter where and when sport is played and enjoyed. For example, who would’ve guessed there would be indoor alpine skiing facilities in Dubai, or irrigated golf courses in the Nevada desert? These changes present new challenges which complicate the previously taken-for-granted relationship between sport and the natural environment. It follows that a sport ecology sub-discipline should develop in response.

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Caption: Heat exhaustion at the Australian Open, January 2018

We’re not the first to work in this space – we stand on the shoulders of giants: Brian McCullough, Tim Kellison, Sylvia Trendafilova, Melanie Sartore-Baldwin, Jonathan Casper, Cheryl Mallen, Haylee Mercado, Kyle Bunds, Greg Dingle, and others. These scholars have contributed substantially to sport ecology. There have also been contributions outside of sport management from geographers and natural resource scientists. Importantly, practitioners have been working in this space for decades: ski resort managers can tell you their job has everything to do with knowing and adapting to snow patterns; most college and NFL football games have a meteorologist on site (or at least, on call) to warn of storm activity; the golf industry has entire conferences and organizations dedicated to turf management.

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Recreational skater on melting ice in Edmonton, Canada

Here is some broader context for sport ecology:

  • The term ‘ecology’ combines ‘eco’ (environment) and ‘logy’ (study). The emphasis on ‘study’ in ecology is important: we are scientists and our work, first and foremost, is to understand.
  • Sport ecology would follow in the rich scientific tradition of human ecology, a derivative of geography and ecology, and would be related to recreation ecology (Marion, Leung, Eagleston, Burroughs, 2016; Monz, Pickering and Hadwen, 2013), tourism ecology (David, 2011), and business ecology (Abe, Bassett & Dempsey, 2012).
  • In the sport industry, associations and conferences have emerged to address issues related to sustainability and climate change. Examples include the Green Sports Alliance and the Sports Environment Alliance. Many major leagues and organizations, including the NHL, NFL, PGA Tour, and the NCAA, have launched green initiatives. There is even a ‘Green Sports Day’, recognized by the White House in 2016.

We are still working to define the boundaries of the sport ecology sub-discipline (we’ll get there – currently working on conference presentations and academic papers) And we would love to hear your input. Please, get in touch with us to discuss!

Applying Career Construction Theory to Female National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I Conference Commissioners

by Elizabeth A. Taylor (Temple University), Jessica L. Siegele (UNC-Pembroke), Allison B. Smith (University of New Mexico), and Robin Hardin (University of Tennessee)

Member institutions of the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) began sponsoring sports for women in the 1970s soon after the passage of Title IX, and the NCAA then began offering championships for women in the early 1980s. Both of these changes led to the dissolution of the Association for Intercollegiate Athletics for Women (AIAW) which was providing governance for women’s collegiate athletics. Women’s athletics were eventually fully integrated into the governance structure of the NCAA which led to increased funding, participation, and scholarship opportunities for women. All positive developments. A negative aspect of women’s athletics coming under the purview of the NCAA though was the reduction in leadership and coaching opportunities for women.

Women hold fewer than 25% of the athletic director positions in the NCAA, and 11% of athletic departments do not have a woman in an administrative position in any capacity. Women also only hold approximately 25% of the head coaching positions in the NCAA. There has been a plethora of research examining career mobility issues for women in sport and in collegiate athletics. Common themes that have emerged from this line inquiry are gender normalcy, homologous reproduction, organizational barriers, lack of mentors, and issues associated with work-life balance.

One place where women have seen more success securing senior level positions is that as conference commissioners. Eleven of the 32 NCAA Division I conference commissioners were women at the time of this study with one women serving as commissioner of two conferences. A much higher percentage than other leadership positions. The purpose of the project was to examine the experiences of women who are NCAA Division I conference commissioners and how they were able to ascend to these positions of leadership using career construction theory (CCT) as a theoretical framework. The study consisted of semi-structured interviews with 8 of the women who held the position at the time of study. Career construction theory was utilized for its ability to examine how and why specific events or experiences as well as education and training influence an individual’s career choices.

Findings:

Women may experience increased success in leadership positions at conference offices, compared with on-campus athletic departments, due to limited direct interaction with football and donors.

Findings revealed participants constantly negotiate time spent on personal and professional obligations, and relationships created in the workplace turned into organic mentorship relationships. The experiences and challenges of negotiating the space between work and family are not specific to collegiate athletics, but may be more prevalent in an industry with high time demands, a nontraditional work schedule, and pressure to perform at a high level.
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Women from the study indicated they engaged in very personal, professional relationships with other female conference commissioners around the country. They would often extend work trips to create opportunities for female-to-female bonding. These types of experiences are common practice for male employees, however, this is one of the first times a population of female employees within the sport industry has described these behaviors and events. Participants felt that there were limited amounts of sexism in the workplace, but all discussed experiencing instances of sexism, indicating a culture of gender normalcy. Many of the participants discussed these experiences while appearing to “laugh them off,” however sexism was still prevalent. These women may have learned the sexism and discrimination is part of the job and to be successful they must learn to accept it.

For Industry:

  1. Model Good Behavior: Practically speaking, more senior level employees can model better work-life balance to show entry-level employees it is acceptable to take time for family or outside interests. It is important this behavior is modeled otherwise entry-level and newly-hired employees will believe they must be in the office for extended periods of time and weekends in order to be successful.
  2. Build Strong Networks: Additionally, athletic departments can utilize this information to help women build strong networks within the field of collegiate athletics. Encouraging women to engage networking that is both personal and professional may be beneficial for women in the industry.
  3. Build Culture Against Sexism: Finally, creating a culture that is not tolerant of sexist behavior is critical to increase the presence of women within the collegiate athletics industry. Although more senior level female employees may “put up” with sexist behavior because they have become accustomed to it that does not mean it is accepted behavior that should be tolerated.

 

To read the original article from Journal of Sport Management, click here.

Preparing Consciously and Socially Aware Students: The Benefit of a Diversity in Sport Club

by Ben PereiraFlorida State University, MS, Sport Management, ‘18, University of Massachusetts Amherst, BS Sport Management, ‘17

The industry of sport lacks diversity, and that’s not a radical claim. The executive offices and top positions in athletic departments are overwhelmingly likely to be run by males, typically white. For example, in NCAA Division I programs, only 12% of Athletic Directors are female, and it is not due to a lack of qualified applicants. For persons of color in sport, they are often type-casted into certain roles, mainly with athlete management or recruitment. In the NCAA, 87.5% of athletic directors are white. Shockingly, this year, Florida State University became the only institution with a black director of athletics, black head men’s basketball coach, and black head football coach.

I’ve spoken to many of my peers about the discrimination they experience in and outside the classroom. Female students have told me they choose not to speak up in class due to fears of not being taken seriously. LGBT students comment on the ignorant statements made by their peers when sexuality in sport comes up in discussion. Students of color complained of feeling isolated and tokenized as the sole or one of a few students of color in a field still dominated by those of Caucasian descent. Sport management programs serve as the pipeline to the industry, and the culture change needs to start within our own institutions.

Issues related to sexism, racism, homophobia, or any other discriminatory behavior need to be addressed before students start their careers in this industry. We are doing a disservice to our minority students if we allow them to graduate with ignorance towards the discrimination they’re likely to encounter and with no awareness of their legal rights and how to combat it. For our students who are not minorities, it is just important for them to be apart of the conversation because they hold a responsibility to change the industry for the better as well. If we allow for areas where students can have open and honest discussions on the issue, where common empathy can be shared, then we’d be graduating a cohort of consciously and socially aware students ready to change the industry for the better.

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This past year, I started the Foundation for Diversity and Inclusion in Sport (FDIS) at Florida State University. The organization is based on a club I served as Vice President of at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, the Association of Diversity in Sport. A core goal of FDIS is to hold events related to diversity and inclusion in sport. The mission of FDIS is to create a space where a group of students who see both the ethical and fiscal responsibility a diverse organization holds, are impassioned to enact change. A place where students can come, feel welcome, to aspire and connect with peers, as well as hear from distinguished sport professionals, on how to succeed in the industry regardless of your race, gender, sexual orientation, etc.

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During the Spring of 2018, my team of fellow students and I were able to recruit distinguished sport professionals, who come from diverse backgrounds, to talk about their career trajectory and some of the obstacles they’ve encountered throughout their careers based on their minority status. Some of our speakers included: the University of Virginia’s Athletic Director, and first African American Female AD of a Power 5 school, Dr. Carla Williams; and the Jacksonville Jaguars’ Sr. VP and Chief Legal Officer, Megha Parekh. We were able to recruit top caliber speakers, only paying for travel expenses, because our speakers understood the importance of the conversations we were having.

NCAA Inclusion Forum

FDIS has only existed for one semester, but our work has been profound. Our organization received a $1,000 grant from the President of the university, press coverage from our local ABC News and NPR affiliates, and a write-up from OutSports. Our events were attended by students from all walks of life, faculty (both sport management and non-sport management), local sport professionals, and members of Florida State’s athletic department. Our events have featured speakers talking about their sexuality in a public presence for the first time, talking about instances of sexism that brought them to tears, and racial profiling in the application process.

These conversations are not easy to have. But it is imperative for our growth as an industry to have them now, before our students enter the field.

If you’re a sport educator, a club like FDIS might be a worthwhile addition to your program. Consider how you’re talking about issues related to racism, sexism, and homophobia in sport. Have these conversations with your students in the classroom, consider adding a “diversity in sport” course into your curriculum. Sport management programs serve as the pipeline to the industry. Let’s make sure our students are aware of the issues their peers will face, and aware of the fiscal and ethical benefits of a diverse workplace so they can ready to be the change the industry needs.

If you’re interested in chartering an organization like FDIS on your campus, email FDIS.FSU@gmail.com for tips on how to get started.