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Posts from the ‘Sport management’ Category

Observations from the WWC Part 2: Interview with Current Sky Blue FC GM

By Dr. Natalie L. Smith (@NatalieLSmith)

Natalie is an Assistant Professor at East Tennessee State University, a former Sky Blue FC & MLS employee, and is currently recruiting a Graduate Assistant for Fall 2020.

A continuation from last week, we followed up with someone who has been dedicated to women’s sport, and women’s soccer specifically, for years. In a practitioner insight interview to compliment last week’s blog, I interviewed a long-time friend, Alyse LaHue. She is the current Sky Blue FC General Manager & Adjunct Instructor at East Tennessee State University. Here’s the interview:

How has the WWC in France impacted Sky Blue FC attendance, media and sponsorship interest?

I would suggest it’s less so the general World Cup and more so the USWNT’s success during it that has driven this interest. It always seems to become a national cultural moment when the USWNT plays in the World Cup. You see media coverage on all outlets: online, tv news, newspapers. Everyone covers it and with that comes enhanced interest in women’s soccer in general. The victory is the major icing on the cake in that you then have a long extension of the WWC through parades, talk shows, and general ongoing appearances via everything you could imagine.

We’ve certainly seen a surge in attendance with two sellouts and a third on the horizon out of our 6 post-WWC games. We even just moved one to Red Bull Arena to accommodate demand. Sky Blue has never played there before. It allows us to engage more media and sponsors by playing in a venue like that, a bit closer to NYC.

What questions do you and others who work in women’s soccer have that you can’t answer right now?

A major item for me is the measurables. There has been an instinct that women’s sports in general have that intangible emotional connection with fans, which I won’t deny. But as front offices we have to operate on data and numbers. Sponsorship ROI and impressions are areas that we typically have not been able to afford on the teams I’ve worked for. Those analyses can be very expensive but it’s something that would be intriguing to me. How many impressions on average does the jersey front get during the course of a season? How can we further measure the actual ROI for our partners instead of just treating their sponsorship like a donation?

What role do you see academics playing in women’s soccer? Have you collaborated with academia in your organizations?

I wish we had more collaborations! During my time in Chicago we had a group of students from Canada work on a semester-long project then come down and present it to us. It included many outside-the-box marketing ideas, many of which we actually ended up exploring

 

In conclusion, so many questions remain about how our current management theories relate to the realities of women’s soccer, and perhaps women’s sport more generally. Fortunately, this seems to be a growing area of interest for scholars. In the past year alone, we have seen a book published on the business of women’s sport (co-edited by Drs. Nancy Lough and Andrea Geurin), and a call for papers with the International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing for a special issue on marketing in women’s sports (submissions due in December). This increased academic focus on women’s sport is needed and welcomed. Clearly those in the women’s sports space want more collaboration with academics, what an opportunity for us to provide much needed research.

Writing Case Studies to Engage with Industry (And Become a Better Writer)

By Aaron Mansfield

Aaron Mansfield is a PhD student at UMass Amherst and an Associate Editor at ESPN

This summer, Zion Williamson – whom legendary former Nike executive Sonny Vaccaro describes as “the most marketable person I’ve seen” – hit the sneaker market. A bidding war ensued.

While the No. 1 NBA draft pick was ruining rims for Duke, pundits speculated about which brand he’d select: Nike or Adidas? Late in the game, however, a dark horse emerged: Puma.

Though Zion ultimately chose Nike subsidiary Jordan, the German giant’s commitment to basketball was evident. Puma announced its re-entry into hoops in 2018, after its attempt in 1998 famously flamed out. Twenty years later, Puma – sensing an opportunity to play “provocateur” – gave it another go, launching an ambitious campaign with Jay-Z.

I recently broke down this situation from a sport marketing perspective for the McCormack Case Study Collection at UMass Amherst. In the case, I offer context, highlight opportunities and challenges, and outline teaching points and assignments. For students, the case offers the chance to engage with a story developing right now – the type of thing they’re already talking about. For instructors, the case offers relevant, vetted material and a ‘plug and play’ design.

UMass’ collection is one of several such resources for sport educators – for example, check out Case Studies in Sport Management, or search for your topic of interest on the expansive Sport Management Case Studies Repository. Academics often hear of the importance of bridging theoretical instruction with industry. This is especially significant in sport because of our discipline’s applied focus (Chalip, 2006; Irwin & Ryan, 2013). Further, because consumer sport is young and rapidly developing, the subject matter we explore is dynamic. Trends and talking points arise constantly. (Consider the emergence of esports, or how many jobs are now centered on sport analytics.) It’s difficult to make a meaningful contribution in the classroom without industry awareness.

Case studies offer such a bridge, invigorating the classroom. Students excitedly participate in discussions. Well-suited for either individual or group work, cases offer a refreshing supplement to tried-and-true approaches like lecturing and textbook assignments.

I also encourage you to consider writing a case of your own. For example, the leader of UMass’ collection, Will Norton, is searching for quality content. Unsure what to write about? Well, when it comes to building theory, sport scholars have alluded to the importance of personal passion for the subject matter (Chelladurai, 2013; Fink, 2013). That insight extends to case studies. What are you passionate about?

The similarities between writing for journal publication and crafting a case may not be immediately apparent, but there is carryover. As a scholar and journalist, I have learned this to be true: writing is writing. When I am attempting to make a theoretical contribution for a journal, I am becoming a better editor; when I am coaching a writer on an NFL season preview feature, I am becoming a better theory-builder. Writing is akin to training your central nervous system – it doesn’t matter which muscle group you’re targeting. Working on a case refines your voice and sharpens your editorial sense, which come into play every time you write-up research (or review a peer’s work).

The language and conventions are different, but constructing a case is much like constructing a journal article: you start with a big idea, narrow its focus as you peruse related literature and take notes, break it down into component parts, and slowly but surely – making exponential progress, adapting as you discover new sources –mold it into a cohesive product. Perhaps most importantly, you spend time between writing wrestling with the concepts. Doesn’t that sound like the process of theory building that Fink (2013) described?

I specifically recommend that PhD students consider this opportunity. You’ll bolster your writing ability, enjoy exploring a topic of interest, and feel satisfied knowing your work could impact leading sport programs. Oftentimes, such as with the UMass collection, you’ll also be compensated financially.

Case studies are a tool for scholars who aspire to shape the future of the academic discipline and the next generation of sport professionals. I encourage you to take advantage of such a valuable resource: consider using a case in your next course or writing one of your own.

 

Citations
Chalip, L. (2006). Toward a distinctive sport management discipline. Journal of Sport Management, 20, 1-21.
Chelladurai, P. (2013). A personal journey in theorizing in sport management. Sport Management Review16, 22-28.
Fink, J. S. (2013). Theory development in sport management: My experience and other considerations. Sport Management Review16, 17-21.
Irwin, R. L., & Ryan, T. D. (2013). Get real: Using engagement with practice to advance theory transfer and production. Sport Management Review16, 12-16.

How Do We Help Our Students Arrive, If We Don’t Know Where They Started?

by Chris Barnhill (research conducted with Andrew Czekanski and Adam Pfleegor)

Dr. Christopher Barnhill is the Sport Management Program Director and Associate Professor at Georgia Southern University. Dr. W. Andrew Czekanski is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Recreation and Sport Management at Coastal Carolina University. Dr. Adam G. Pfleegor is an Assistant Professor with the Department of Sport Science at Belmont University.

In the summer of 2005, not long after my wife and I moved to Manhattan, Kansas, we experienced what has to be one of the most frustrating conversations of our marriage. I was in my new office in the Kansas State athletic department while Amy was driving back from a job interview in nearby, Riley, Kansas. She called from her cell phone desperately hoping that I could give her directions home. Unfortunately, I was of no help.

If you are familiar with this region, you know that most towns in the area are separated by a sea of wheat with no major highways. Smartphones did not yet exist and GPS was not common. She needed my help, but all I knew is that she was surrounded by wheat fields and a few windmills. Essentially, I knew she was somewhere in Kansas. I knew the destination she was trying to find but without knowing her current location, any advice was useless.

It’s impossible to draw a map to Point B without first knowing the location to Point A.

As faculty, it is our duty to be familiar with the knowledge and skills students must acquire to be successful in the sports industry. Many of us worked in the industry and regularly communicate with industry partners or advisory boards. Additionally, there is some great literature exploring industry and faculty perspectives of student outcomes (e.g. Barnes, 2014; Mathner & Martin, 2012; Schwab et al., 2013). We know the location of Point B. In Barnhill, Czekanski, and Pfleegor (2018), we attempted find Point A by gathering data from students at 12 undergraduate programs on their first day of Introduction to Sport Management.

Data About Sport Management Intro Students

Getting to know sport management studentsThe results of our study provided a complex picture of the students we are educating. Sport management students have high academic aspirations. More than half of the students surveyed desired to obtain an advanced degree and were heavily involved in their campus communities. However, their college GPA is lower than the general population. This might be explained by some of the demographic information in the sample. A majority of students identify as having a middle-class background, but many students come from lower or upper-class backgrounds. Graduation rates are significantly higher for students from higher socioeconomic backgrounds than for students who come from middle and lower socioeconomic classes (Snyder, de Brey & Dillow, 2010). This often stems from differences in resource allocations for K-12 schools, as well as less access to mentors with college experience (Institute for Research on Poverty, 2017).

When looking at racial and gender demographics, we found sport management programs generally have more White and Black students than the general undergraduate population, but few students from other populations (Snyder et al., 2019). Similarly, women are woefully underrepresented in our discipline. Literature consistently indicates diverse classroom environments improves learning outcomes (Gurin, Dey, Hurtado, & Gurin, 2002). While the current imbalance in representation represents an opportunity for growth by making our programs more welcoming to students from underrepresented populations, it also puts an emphasis on faculty to bring diverse viewpoints to the classroom.

The final section of our study explored students’ perceptions of their own abilities relative skills/knowledge. Scholarship consistently indicates sport management students are naïve to the realities of the field and have unrealistic expectations for their careers (Barnes, 2014; Mathner & Martin, 2012; Schwab et al., 2013). This may be because sport management students are primarily attracted to the discipline by their passion for sport. Participants in the study were generally unaware careers available in the sport industry. Our study also indicated students are overly confident in their own abilities. As a whole, the sample indicated beliefs that their skills and knowledge related to the industry were above average despite the fact that they had never taken a course related to sport management. Unrealistic career expectations not only impact student learning, they also have negative consequences after graduation (Bush, Bush, Oakley, & Cicala, 2014).

As sport management educators, we have a duty to prepare students for the industry to hope to enter. We must continue to be aware of and adapt to an ever-changing destination. However, we must also be keenly aware of the various jumping off points from which our students begin their journeys. We hope, if anything, this study provides a picture of the undergraduate student population and begins a conversation about curriculum design in undergraduate sport management programs.

Read the entire study here in the April 2018 edition of the Sport Management Education Journal

Barnes, J.C. (2014). What becomes of our graduates?: New employee job transition and socialization in sport administration. Sport Management Education Journal, 8, 27–34.

Barnhill, C.R., Czekanski, W.A., & Pfleegor, A.G. (2018). Getting to know our students: A snapshot of sport management students’ demographics and career expectations in the United States. Sport Management Education Journal, 12, 1-14.

Bush, A. J., Bush, V. D., Oakley, J., & Cicala, J. (2014). Formulating undergraduate student expectations for better career development in sales: A socialization perspective. Journal of Marketing Education, 36(2), 120-131. doi:10.1177/0273475314537831

Gurin, P., Dey E., Hurtado, S., & Gurin, G. (2002). Diversity and higher education: Theory and impact on educational outcomes. Harvard Educational Review, 72(3), 330-366.

Institute for Research on Poverty (2017). Poverty Fact Sheet: Falling Further Behind: Inequity in College Completion. Madison, WI: University of Wisconsin – Madison.

Mathner, R.P., & Martin, C.L.L. (2012). Sport management graduate and undergraduate students’ perceptions of career expectations in sport management. Sport Management Education Journal, 6, 21–31.

Schwab, K.A., Dustin, D., Legg, E., Timmerman, D., Wells, M.S., & Arthur-Banning, S.G. (2013). Choosing sport management as a college major. SCHOLE: A Journal of Leisure Studies and Recreation Education, 28(2), 16–27.

Snyder, T. D., de Brey, C. & Dillow, S. A. (2019). Digest of Education Statistics 2017 (NCES 2018070). Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics.

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.

Feeling That In-Group Feeling at a Sponsored Sporting Event: Links to Memory and Future Attendance

By Dr. T. Bettina Cornwell (University of Oregon), Dr. Steffen Jahn (University of Goettingen), Dr. Hu Xie (Western Michigan University), and Wang Suk Suh (University of Oregon).

Have you ever felt alone at a crowded event? If you have felt outside the group, you can imagine that you might focus on different things. When you feel swept up with others in the swirl of activity, well, it is just more fun. It is also easy to imagine that event organizers and sponsors would like for you to enjoy an event, for your sake and theirs.

We investigated the emotions that people feel while at a track and field event. Excitement, joy and pride are emotions we might experience in viewing sport. We can also get bored waiting for the next event or feel discontent, especially if things are not going to plan. We were interested in these sorts of emotions in the research but also wanted to know if experiencing these emotions with others made a difference.

We began with the thinking that you might come to an event alone, or even with others, but your common interest in the event helps you to feel like you are part of the in-group. Importantly, if you do have that in-group feeling, what happens?

We found that emotions influence things like what sponsors you remember. Excitement, boredom, and the overall group atmosphere at an event influence sponsor recall in different ways. Excitement, contrary to popular thinking, can support recall for sponsors.

Feeling In-Group Matters for Sponsor Recall.

Fan-With-Sign-At-Soccer-Game_925x

What was really interesting is that emotions are related to the extent of in-group feelings. For example, when people feel they are part of an in-group, excitement further supports recall for sponsors. When people don’t feel like they are part of the in-group, not only does excitement not support recall of sponsors, boredom negatively influences it too.

Similarly, in terms of attending the event in the future, emotions play a role and so do your in-group feelings. Group atmosphere, boredom and joy all influence future attendance. Feeling a group atmosphere, where “compared to other events, other attendees at this event create a great atmosphere” really makes a difference if you feel like you are part of that group.

Sport has always delivered emotional engagement and sponsors have always been attracted to sports for it. This research confirms that thinking and guides it. The findings suggest that events should find ways to help attendees feel a part of the event.

Idea for the Industry: For a multi-day event, it might be worthwhile to imagine events where people meet and greet others before attending the sporting events. Make queues into opportunities. Instead of letting people stand in line with little interaction or amusement, turn this captive audience into a chance to meet people by incentivizing meeting someone new.

For Sponsors: the good news is that excitement at an event is not necessarily detrimental for learning about sponsors. It was the case, however, that a great atmosphere that moves out into surrounding areas may encompass sponsors intentional ambushers or simply other brands that are later remembered as sponsors.

The clear finding is that building in-group feelings is positive for event organizers and event sponsors, and we feel, event attendees.

Interested in learning more about this research? Read the article in the September Issue of the Journal of Sport Management.

Explaining Sponsorships Using Analogy

By Jesse King, Ph.D. (Weber State University) and Robert Madrigal, Ph.D. (California State University, Chico)

Most sponsorship alignments do not make sense. For example, what does FedEx have to do with the NFL? This sponsorship is incongruent because the brand and property (e.g., events, teams, leagues, etc.) have little in common. In such cases, the brand must explain to consumers how it is related to the property. In a recent article in Journal of Sport Management, we find that using analogies is one tactic for explaining an incongruent sponsorship to consumers.

Understanding an analogy is like solving a puzzle. By highlighting shared associations, analogies provide a creative way for sport managers to explain how the brand is similar to the property. For example, FedEx makes use of an analogy by awarding the “Air and Ground Players of the Year” to the NFL’s top quarterback and running back.  The analogy allows fans to connect the actions of running backs and quarterbacks to ground and air delivery of a package, respectively. The package and football each plays the same relational role in this analogy. Just as a football may be passed through the air by a quarterback or carried by a running back on the ground, a FedEx package can be sent by air via a plane or ground delivered using a truck. Good analogies are useful because they promote a deeper understanding of the sponsor-event alignment. In this way, a sponsorship that once did not make sense to a consumer can explained in a way that links core equities of the property with those of the brand.

Creativity is required for fans to understand analogies and for sport managers to build them.  The goal for sport managers in creating analogies is to help the customer understand common functions in the sponsoring brand and sport property. To build analogies, managers should:

1) Identify Brand Action Words: Identify actions performed by the brand. This can be accomplished by identifying actions in terms of verbs used to describe a core function (e.g., Gillette razor blades shave hair off the body). Keep in mind that there are often many ways to describe the same action. For example, a close shave is achieved through close contact between the razor and few missed hairs.

2) Identify Property Action Words: Consider actions performed by the property that might align with those of the brand. Avoid shared surface traits such as common appearance (e.g., both property and brand’s logos are red) or immaterial detail (e.g., both players and employees wear uniforms). Instead, focus on common patterns of relationships that exist for the brand and for the property.

3) Avoid the Abstract: When creating analogical explanations, avoid abstract descriptors such as “excellence” or “integrity.” If no relevant actions within the property can be identified, the sponsor should work with the property to create something (e.g., award, event) that will serve a similar role to the actions that the brand wants to emphasize (e.g., the turnaround play of the game).

Analogies that explain deeper relationships are likely to be more effective than those that only explain surface similarities. For example, Gillette could explain a partnership with competitive swimming, a sport in which competitors “shave” the hair off their entire body prior to a major competition, by emphasizing shallow similarities associated with shaving hair and shaving seconds from a race time. However, a better fit might be achieved by explaining deeper patterns of shared relations. For instance, Gillette recently explained their partnership with Major League Baseball’s Home Run Derby by emphasizing the relational importance of establishing close contact between a razor and skin as a way of making sure to not miss any hair follicles on one’s face with the importance of a baseball batter making contact with the ball in order to miss fewer pitches.

King Blog Photo 1

Key Takeaways:

In this research we found analogy improves sponsorship fit, relative to other types of explanation. They help because analogies are perceived as creative. Also, short explanations of analogies seem to be equally effective as more detailed explanations.

For sport managers this means that short messages such as “The FedEx Air and Ground Players of the Year Awards” may be as effective as full press release in explaining a brand-property alignment.  Analogies are capable of concisely conveying a great deal of information. Because space and time are often severely limited in a sponsorship message, the use of analogy offers an efficient and creative method for concisely explaining how an incongruent brand is similar to a sports property.

Sport, Twitter Hashtags, and the Public Sphere: Curt Schilling Case Study

Instantly, the hashtag #CurtSchilling became a flashpoint for debate about the issue on Twitter. Thousands of users deployed the hashtag over the following 24 hours, either criticizing Schilling for his homophobia, or castigating ESPN for political correctness. Capturing 10,000 of those hashtags revealed fascinating findings.

Read more

Crossing the great divide between academics and practitioners: The application of autoethnographies in sport (event) volunteer research

By Erik Lachance, Doctoral Student, University of Ottawa

Since my volunteer experience at the 2010 Vancouver Winter Olympic Games, I have been passionate about sport management and, more specifically, sport (event) volunteers. At the end of the undergraduate studies I took an interest in studying sport (event) volunteers, and conducted an autoethnography about my volunteer experience in a small-scale para-sport event.

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To date, the recruitment of volunteers for the pilot study phase of my thesis, and some of my additional independent research projects, has been challenging as I have been repeatedly asked to volunteer in exchange for being able to interview participants. It appears as if once the targeted organization or event becomes aware of my research topic, they assume that I am more likely to be interested in volunteering. I believe this creates a trade-off in the sense that I would collect data from the volunteers, and, in exchange, I would volunteer for the sport organization or event. Some sport organizations and events have actually declined to participate because I could not volunteer, and when speaking to some of my colleagues, it appears as if this is not a normal request or occurrence when recruiting participants. Although the request to volunteer could present some challenges (e.g., time commitment), it also brings a great opportunity to bridge the gap between academics and practitioners. But, how can this be achieved? The answer is with the incorporation of autoethnographies.

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Compared to traditional ethnographies, autoethnographies can be considered as a combination of autobiography and ethnography in which the researcher’s personal experience is described and analyzed to understand a phenomenon (Ellis, 2004). Recently, autoethnographies have been applied to investigate the sport (event) volunteer experience in large-scale sport events, such as the Olympics (e.g., Kodama, Doherty, & Popovic, 2013; Sadd, 2018), and small-scale para-sport events (e.g., Lachance & Parent, 2017, 2018). Speaking from personal experience, my first taste of research in sport management was an autoethnography, which enabled me to appreciate the value of subjectivity in research, and shaped my current epistemological stance. Investigating my own volunteer experience at a para-sport event also gave me the opportunity to learn more about myself, such as the importance of establishing relationships with others, developing an interest in para-sport, and fostering my passion for volunteering in sport.

The application of autoethnographies benefits both academics and practitioners. Perhaps the greatest opportunity is to bridge the current gap between academics and practitioners. However, a benefit for academics is to gain an understanding of a phenomenon from a front-line perspective. As Ellis & Bochner (2006) explained, this approach seeks to put the researcher back into the study, and values subjectivity (e.g., emotions) in order for rich insight to be yielded from a front-line perspective. Therefore, the incorporation of autoethnographies would benefit academics with rich insight and a greater understanding of the sport (event) volunteer experience (Kodama et al., 2013).

The benefits of autoethnographies are also present for practitioners. More specifically, the collaboration between academics and practitioners during autoethnographies would allow for the transmission of knowledge to occur. For example, the researcher, who is an “insider”, could pass on knowledge from past research, relevant theories, concepts, and cases during the volunteer experience. Having the presence of an academic as an “insider” would also enable practitioners to have access to a valuable resource. Thus, autoethnographies would benefit practitioners with the transmission of knowledge, and having access to a valuable resource (i.e., knowledge and experience of academics) in an effort to enhance organizational capacity, and possibly the ability to succeed (e.g., achieve goals).

This post was inspired from my personal experience doing autoethnography, and of recruiting participants for research on sport (event) volunteers, and discussed the win-win situation that is created for academics and practitioners through the application of autoethnographies. The incorporation of such an approach could increase collaboration, and bridge the existing gap between academics and practitioners. The hope for this post is to spark discussion and interest among academics and practitioners regarding the application of autoethnographies for sport (event) volunteer research.

References:

Ellis, C. (2004). The ethnographic I: A methodological novel about autoethnography. Walnut Creek, CA: AltaMira Press.

Ellis, C., & Bochner, A. P. (2006). Analyzing analytic autoethnography: An autopsy. Journal of Contemporary Ethnography35, 429-449.

Kodama, E., Doherty, A., & Popovic, M. (2013). Front line insight: an autoethnography of the Vancouver 2010 volunteer experience. European Sport Management Quarterly, 13, 76-93.

Lachance, E. L., & Parent, M. M. (2017, June). The volunteer experience in a local para-sport event: An ethnographic approach. Paper presented at the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) Conference, Denver, Colorado, USA.

Lachance, E. L., & Parent, M. M. (2018, June). Two phases, two tales: Planning and implementation phase experiences of a para-sport event volunteer. Paper presented at the North American Society for Sport Management (NASSM) Conference, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada.

Sadd, D. (2018). Proud to be British: An autoethnographic study of working as a games maker at London 2012. Event Management, 22, 317-332.

Industry: Forging New Partnerships

NASSM and the Aspen Institute Announce Partnership

by Dr. Brianna Newland, Chair, NASSM Marketing & Communications Committee

The new NASSM strategic plan calls for NASSM to build alliances and partnerships with Aspen1jpegother organizations that share similar foci and goals. One of the first to have been completed is a partnership with the Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program. You may recall, that Tom Farrey, who heads that program, was the keynote speaker at our recent conference in Denver. As a journalist, Mr. Farrey’s contributions as an ESPN reporter have been thought-provoking and innovative. His book, Game On, numerous articles, and work at the Aspen Institute have explored sport and societal issues and have been used by universities and organizations alike to shape strategy around issues facing sport, especially youth sport. As such, Mr. Farrey founded the Aspen Institute’s Sport and Society program to assemble the industry’s top thought leaders to shape future policy around sport.

The mission of the Aspen Institute’s Sports and Society Program is to “convene leaders, foster dialogue, and inspire solutions that help sport serve the public interest, with a focus on the development of healthy children and communities.” An aim of the program is to provide a venue for thought leaders to explore strategies on a range of issues. One such issue is the state of youth sport. In 2013, the program launched Project Play, a multi-year and stage initiative to develop sport for all and inspire lifetime play for our community’s children. Several key leaders have participated in events and a series of roundtables led to the January 2015 publication entitled, Sport for All, Play for Life: A Playbook to Get Every Kid in the Game 

On January 25, the Aspen Institute will kick off a new quarterly “Future of Sports Conversation Series.” The first in the series is the “Future of Football: Reimagining the Game’s Pipeline.” Speakers in this discussion include Chris Borland, former San Francisco 49er linebacker, and Dr. Robert Cantu, co-founder of the CTE Center at Boston University, among others. For more details and to RSVP, click here.

NASSM and the Aspen Institute have agreed to find ways to work together and to promote each other’s work.  Both parties expect this relationship to be of substantial benefit not merely to NASSM, but also to the development of the sport industry. As Dr. Laurence Chalip, NASSM President recently noted, “Project Play has become the most significant policy initiative for sport development that the United States has seen in many years. It demonstrates the leadership that the Aspen Institute and its Sports & Society Program have taken in our field. The partnership we have formed will be good for NASSM, good for our members, and very good for sport.”

For debate: Is communication the key to student preparation?

The NASSM Blog would like to introduce the ‘debate blog.’ The following is a call for unity among sport industry and sport educators. We welcome your thoughts and comments! And, please, if you have an idea for a ‘debate post’, please contact us!

A Call for Unity: Sport Educators & the Sport Industry

By Carl Manteau, Senior Director of Group Sales, NBA Milwaukee Bucks

With response from Brian Mills, Assistant Professor, University of Florida

The most abundant positions with professional sports teams are in usually in sales. Sadly, the majority of sport management graduates hired into sales positions FAIL to make it through their first year.* They fail as the direct result of their own actions, however, several are almost predisposed to fail because their sport management programs didn’t adequately prepare them for a sales career.

Carl Profile 2 (7.6.15)

This is evident in the resumes that hiring managers like me receive, the interviews we conduct, and the actions of some of the sport management students we hire…and ultimately fire.

Recruiting sport management students can be challenging because many are not educated in the art of selling, nor are they provided many opportunities to experience selling or learn from people that sell sports for a living. This lack of a foundation leads students to apply for positions they aren’t suited or prepared for and teams to hire on perceived abilities instead of proven experience. In the end, these students fail to achieve their dream of a career in this incredible industry, the teams lose the time, money, and effort spent on recruiting and training, and the reputations of academic institutions are tarnished.

So how do we, educators and industry practitioners, come together to address this?

There are a multitude of ways but one of the best places to start is with better communication.

The more knowledgeable professors are on the ever-evolving roles and responsibilities in this industry, the better equipped they will be to prepare students for successful careers. First-hand knowledge is the best. To this point, there has been a pretty sizable effort in recent years of sales managers proactively seeking working-relationships with local educators…but we still have a long way to go. Our outreach will continue but we also encourage professors to contact us. It really can be as simple as picking up the phone or connecting on LinkedIn. Even sitting down for a cup of coffee can open up a new world of understanding and possibilities!

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A fantastic development has been teams and sport management professors/programs collaborating to host one-day sales events (the Mount Union Sport Sales Workshop is widely regarded as one of the best). Over the past few seasons, my team (the Bucks) has implemented a one-day Sales Academy, a Night Sales program, a more robust internship program, and a couple of the sales managers now serve on advisory councils with local universities. Programs like these expose students to the sales cultures of professional sports teams and the chance to network with industry executives. They also allow professors to observe the inner-workings of a professional front office. Finally, they provide teams with the opportunity to find the next generation of sales superstars and leadership development experience for aspiring sales managers.

Better communication doesn’t have to result in large projects or events. At the very least, honest discussions will greatly reduce some of the common misconceptions that continue to be shared with students (one of the most prevalent being, “Sales is a good way to get your foot in the door”).

Other simple collaborations can include sales projects being integrated into curriculums and inviting sales reps and managers to be guest speakers. It was a guest speaker in one of my classes that ultimately paved the way for my career. I’ve also been very humbled to have a few people say that one of my guest lectures had the same effect on them. These experiences would not have been possible without educators and practitioners having solid relationships.

My fellow sales managers and I have the utmost respect for educators and the awesome responsibility you have in shaping the futures of your students and the entire industry. Thank you for what you do and we look forward to working with you soon!

The opinions expressed in this article are my own and may not reflect those of any organizations mentioned. 

*I don’t have any industry data to support this statistic. The figure is taken directly from my 15+ years of experience in sales with two NBA teams, one NHL team, one WNBA team, one AHL team, one AFL team, and one NBA D-League (now the G-League) team. It’s also supported by some of my colleagues managing sales teams in the NFL, NHL, and NBA.

The following response was prepared by Brian Mills, Assistant Professor, University of Florida

Brian_Mills

Let me start with 3 propositions.

Proposition 1: Sport Management (SM) programs – as with MBA programs – are not job-specific skills training mechanisms.

Proposition 2: SM programs have a responsibility to provide value to tuition-paying students, often related to expected future earnings potential.

Proposition 3: Industry has a responsibility to provide its workers with appropriate job-specific skills training to both support their employees’ career trajectory and increase their productivity in their current job.

None of these statements is specific to SM – indeed, higher education is dealing with this existential question as a whole – but applied fields are under particular scrutiny to meet these career-specific expectations. As academics, that can sometimes be a difficult proposition. We seek to ensure that our students are equipped with skills in critical and independent thinking, problem-solving acumen, the ability to find, synthesize, and communicate information, and to be intellectually flexible and work well with others. These skills allow them to learn other more specific training quickly and apply it in ways that contribute positively to the firm and society.

To exemplify where these skills are valuable, in consulting roles I have heard comments such as, “We know you have to be ethical in your profession, but we need your estimates to be higher,” and, “We’ll move forward with [that result we like], even though it’s probably spurious.” This is precisely what we want our students to avoid. In spite of the need for immediate action in a fast-paced business environment, a central part of our jobs as instructors is ensuring students know that making decisions with bad information can hurt your business. They should leave here as critical consumers of information.

By its nature, this foundational training is going to spend less time ensuring students know all the acronyms and jargon, proprietary sales operations processes, or be instant experts working specific sales software. Higher education will certainly not ingrain a “sell at all costs” culture in our students’ minds.

And so follows the indictment of our programs.

But is that the goal of higher education? If students leave our programs with the necessary skills to get an entry-level job, and no more, we have failed them miserably. Further, our student body ranges widely, and catering to this specific subset of our students would be an enormous disservice to the majority of them.

Academia certainly needs to think about the educational role it will play in society over the next 20 years. But criticism from industry often lacks an understanding of what faculty do on a daily basis, what universities expect them to do, or what challenges they face in getting students up to speed with many basic skills when they arrive on campus. There is also a need for accountability from industry with respect to training their own workforce, particularly as college graduates continue to be hired into short-term unpaid or extremely low paid positions that often skirt labor and minimum wage laws.

Further, industry sales professionals need to communicate to faculty not only that sales skills are needed, but what they are and why they will allow our students to meet future career development and advancement goals. Most faculty view education as a public good with a duty to prepare students to leave here with the skills to make positive societal contributions. Tie the profession to values it creates not just for your firm, but for others, too.

Without a quality sales pitch of the what and the why, faculty will likely continue to view sales as the art of convincing people to buy what they did not want in the first place: an activity rife with welfare loss and societal waste. We as faculty are of course quite familiar with the importance of revenue generation in the survival of a business. Many of us study how business structures and product characteristics drive revenue, and others study the psychology or economics of business in ways closely related to strategy and CRM through analysis of complex consumer data.

Most faculty in our programs are also social scientists, and therefore will be skeptical of the societal value of sales as traditionally viewed. I suspect this is not the version of sales you do, nor is it what you want our graduates to do. Rather, salespeople can indeed be a valuable resource in finding useful solutions to problems, and leading clients to these solutions using the tools available to them. Faculty have some work to do in communicating the value that some of our courses and programs provide to these goals. In particular, we need to be clear how these skills are more valuable in the face of technological innovation that changes what the most valuable specific skillsets are.

On the other hand, many departments are increasingly resource deprived. Industry professionals should understand the demands upon faculty that include research and other service, and be proactive in offering resources to create workshops and other opportunities on college campuses without treating them just as an easy way to find cheap labor. Industry would also be well served to increase investment in their own workforce, have some patience with very specific skill development, and find ways to take advantage of skills our students do gain while they are here. I suspect their ability to solve problems facing the sales team will surprise you as they grow comfortable with the basic tools of the trade.

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