Recreation and Sport Studies

Studying, Experiencing and Facilitating Kinesiology, Recreation and Sport through Wellness and Physical Activity


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Is There Room for Sports to Get Even More Commercialized?

This article by Pinsker (2016) does a great job declaring from the start that sponsorships on jerseys are inevitable. This is understandable because an extra $5 million for the Philadelphia 76ers is hard to turn down for something as simple as a small logo on the left chest/shoulder of the jersey. When thinking specifically about the NHL I see several teams (Winnipeg, Arizona, Florida) that would love to have the extra revenue to help either on the business side or hockey side. However, one area that I think the article discounts quite easily is the impact fans have on professional sports. Looking at the Detroit Red Wings as an example they recently opened their new arena, Little Caesars Arena, in October 2017. Moving from the legendary Joe Louis Arena (named after Detroit boxer Joe Louis) to an arena attached to corporate sponsorship was met with negative backlash (Pevos, 2017) from fans of the Red Wings and NHL fans in general (especially when the Little Caesar’s logo was placed on the roof). The deal was final so there was nothing Detroit could do about it, but this should illustrate that the implementation of corporate sponsorship into aspects of sport that are not accustomed to them will receive a negative reaction from fans. I know the Toronto Maple Leafs or Montreal Canadiens could put virtually anything on their jerseys and still make huge profits, but what if the Florida Panthers upset their fans or the Arizona Coyotes?

The notion that there will be sponsorships on North American professional sports jerseys in the future has been troubling to most fans. One possible reason for this is that even though professional sports franchises are for profit enterprises, the illusion that professional sports is about competition and athleticism still exists among most fans. From the fans perspective the jersey is a part of their identity, both physically and subjectively. Jerseys are part of their identity physically in the sense that fans can buy and wear “their” teams jersey and subjectively because the identifiable aspects of their fandom include the jersey (logo, colours, etc.). As stated by Pinsker the jersey is the last untapped frontier of revenue in US sports. The fact that this is one of the few aspects of sport that is still sacred without commercialized interest’s means that it will be a tough sell to fans, many of whom believe sport is too commercialized as it is.

As Nauright and White (2002) noted nostalgia is a key way that sports media markets to fans because nostalgia removes the pain of the past and focuses on positive memories. Nostalgia implicates a sense on innocence and by adding sponsorships to jerseys the argument could be made that some of that innocence is lost. Personally simply the image of jerseys from the past gives me a sense of nostalgia and I do not know if sponsorships on the jerseys would taint that feeling. The other pressing matter to consider is that in a North American context any additions to jerseys were either to signify leaders on teams or honour those from the past that may no longer be with us. If the NHL implements sponsorships onto jerseys will the ‘C’ be altered in anyway on Sidney Crosby’s jersey? If they place it on the right side of their chest what happens when a figure such as Jean Beliveau passes away? In what way will they honour that person? These questions will need to be answered by professional leagues and will then need to be justified to players, fans, and alumni.

Drawing from Ziegler (2011) as well I have to wonder what this extra money would be used for. If the 76ers are getting $5 million to have the Stubhub logo on their jersey will they then not require as much public funding for new arenas? This extra revenue could supplement a reduction in ticket prices, concessions, or improve the community engagement initiatives from these teams. Using one of these as a primary reason to obtain these sponsorships could ease the transition for some fans, but there will still be some that see this as purely as a cash grab by for profit organizations. Ziegler’s main argument against sport is that professional sport has not been used to serve as a public good as it was intended. I have to believe that adding sponsorships onto jerseys for the sole purpose of increasing revenue will further validate his opinion.

One aspect of this debate that was not brought up in the article was the corporate sponsorship that happens at the grassroots level of sport. There is no backlash from fans when their local team’s jerseys are sponsored by McDonalds or Tim Horton’s so why is it such a travesty at the professional level? The argument can be made that these teams are in need of money and that justifies the massive amounts of sponsorships both on the jersey and part of the team name. As a native of PEI I have grown accustomed to sponsorship throughout local sport, for instance the two Major Midget hockey teams on PEI are: the Charlottetown Bulk Carrier’s Pride and the Kensington Monaghan Farm’s Wild. This article does mention the Philippines Basketball Association having a numerous sponsorships as revenue is hard to come by in non-major leagues. This is similar to an observation I have made about the National Basketball League of Canada. The teams in this league have sponsorships on the jerseys, but when revenue is at this low of a level then increasing their jersey sponsorship similarly to NASCAR or European basketball or hockey could help the league maintain consistent revenue sources.

In conclusion I believe that sponsorships on jerseys are inevitable, but professional franchises should be transparent and explain to their stakeholders why this is important and what the money will be used for. With this strategy I believe fans will be more accepting of change and will endorse the brand similarly to NASCAR supporters.

References:

Nauright, J., & White, P. (2002). Mediated Nostalgia, Community and Nation: The CFL in Crisis and the Demise of the Ottawa Roughriders. Sport History Review, 33, 121-137.

Pevos, E. (2017, July 12). Giant pizza man on Little Caesars Arena roof not going over well withfans. Retrieved from http://www.mlive.com/news/detroit/index.ssf/2017/07/giant_guy_on_little_caesars_ar.html

Pinsker, J. (2016, June 13). Is There Room for Sports to Get Even More Commercialized? Retrieved from https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2016/06/future-corporate-sports-sponsorhip/486569/

Zeigler, E. (2011). Sport As a Key Partner in the “Big Four’s Reign” in the Western World? International Journal of Sport Management, Recreation & Tourism.


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Barriers and facilitators when hosting sporting events: Exploring the Canadian and Swiss sport event hosting policies

By N. Romoff

In the Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, Leopkey, Mutter, and Parent (2010) offer a broad comparative analysis between Canada and Switzerland, and their varying approaches to hosting sporting events. While the article does not formulate a conclusion, it does offer valuable insight into the stark differences between the two nations.

The analysis is undertaken both horizontally (within the country), and vertically (transnationally). It outlines event-hosting policies (or lack thereof) at the national level, along with funding issues, and operations at the municipal level.

Canada has quite rigid policies in place, and by doing so, has begun the fostering of accompanying legislation. The policies act as a checks-and-balances system, enforcing the adherence to certain guidelines to maintain the desired level of excellence hosting sporting events. Canada too holds much pride hosting sporting events of all levels, as seen with the wide variety of events hosted throughout the country, culminating in a very successful Vancouver Olympics in 2010. With said policy-based rigidity, comes the freedom of having no discernable budget. This system is flipped entirely by the Swiss.

Conversely, Switzerland does not hold any legislation or national policies when it comes to event hosting as a whole. They then, have the opportunity to operate freely, and host as they see fit (within their set parameters of mega-events of course). The Swiss feel compelled to host said mega-events, as they pride themselves on doing so; this can be seen by way of the self-titled “Olympic City” of Lausanne. Their lack of official policies however, see the seemingly requisite structure and feedback through their rigid budget. An allotment is given towards events, and when said allotment is consumed, one must reapply for more funds. This ultimately replaces policies, limits, and quotas seen in Canada.

Overall, the Canadian and Swiss approaches to sporting-event hosting vary greatly, however they both hold themselves accountable by way of checks and balances. Whether it is in Canada where said feedback is embedded within the process by way of policies, or in Switzerland where it is done through funding, both offer enough accountability to avoid instances of disastrous event-hosting seen elsewhere.

Reference:

B. Leopkey, O. Mutter & M.M. Parent (2010): Barriers and facilitators when hosting sporting events: exploring the Canadian and Swiss sport event hosting policies, International Journal of Sport Policy and Politics, 2:2, 113-134

The following is a short poem outlining an interpretive analysis, with accompanying discussion topics, and subsequent interesting questions raised:

Winter, summer, spring, fall,

There is no break in the year for sports,

Some care to host, some not at all,

Just please ignore the feasibility reports.

 

Is it policy or quotas that drive success,

Canada and Swiss must be compared,

Mindset; whenever possible, create a mess,

Bidding process inherently impaired.

 

Transcending level, all be welcome,

Canada hosts with open arms,

No Budget, but legislation in place,

Fostering excellence, turn minor sports into farms.

 

An event one can’t miss, hosted by the Swiss,

The home of the torch , Olympic Village by name,

Reapply for more funds, on our soil they’ll run,

Can we exist without it, or is it our claim to fame.

 

Feedback must be constant, there is no doubt,

Should it be ongoing, or embedded for clout,

The swiss do the former, the latter the ‘nuck,

Must we remember, some always run it amok.

 

Are there answers? Does anyone know?

The fact remains that dollar figures continue to grow.

Man is golf; drawn to the green at all costs. Hope lies in those not keeping score.

Insert instructions for perfect event-hosting paradigm here


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Mediated Nostalgia, Community and Nation: The CFL in Crisis and the Demise of the Ottawa Roughriders

This article by Nauright and White (2002) examines the position of the Canadian Football League (CFL) in Canada in the 1990’s, the popular media discourses surrounding the CFL and a nostalgic view of an idealized Canada, and the crisis of Canadian Identity as the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) saw North America more integrated than ever. The 90’s were a troubling time for Canadian Identity as a number of issues arose throughout the decade. The long-term relationship between Canada and Quebec was unknown and many believed that secession was inevitable. The case could then be made that the rest of Canada would then be broken up, as the Maritime Provinces would then be separated from the rest of Canada. This alone put Canadian Identity into question-if Canada was not a nation from east to west than what was Canada?

Another blow was dealt to Canadian Identity as the continued southern expansion of the National Hockey League (NHL) saw 11 franchises join the NHL: San Jose, Ottawa, Tampa Bay, Anaheim, Florida, Dallas, Phoenix, Colorado, Carolina, Nashville, and Atlanta. Only one of which was in a Canadian market and in the case of Phoenix and Colorado two Canadian franchises were sent south (Winnipeg and Quebec respectively). Hockey has been at the core of Canadian Identity for the greater part of the century and seemingly losing Hockey to the United States was very troublesome for Canada.

The CFL followed the lead of the NHL and began expanding south as Baltimore, Sacramento, Las Vegas, Shreveport, Memphis, Birmingham joined the CFL. The CFL commissioner had even gone as far as saying that “the league’s future was not in Canada, but through expansion in the United States”. Several of the Canadian CFL franchises were in financial trouble so it could have been argued that this was a wise move. However the American CFL franchises were even more troubled than the Canadian franchises, many of the teams only playing one season. One team that did have success were the Baltimore Stallions as they reached the Grey Cup in 1994 losing to the BC Lions, then made it back in 1995 defeating the Calgary Stampeders to become the first non-Canadian team to win the Grey Cup. The success of the Stallions caused a lot of insecurity among CFL fans in Canada. The CFL had always been a place where American influence was minimized, but now that the Grey Cup was in American territory that may come to an end. The Stallions were shortly after disbanded because of NFL relocation that sent the Cleveland Browns to Baltimore and renamed them the Ravens.

This then brings up the notion of nostalgia and how it is used within the sports media context. There is such a rich history of sport in Canada which can make it very easy to capitalize on consumer’s feelings and emotions. During the financially troubled 90’s most of the CFL teams leaned on nostalgia to keep the doors open. While the Roughriders were in crisis the media discussed the relation to the “glory days” of the franchise in the late 60’s and 70’s. What was always ignored was the earlier years of the team when they nearly had to shut-down operations. Nostalgia is still used today when sports franchises are in trouble or have not had much success. Particularly the Montreal Canadiens and the Toronto Maple Leafs have such a deep history that reliving the past becomes almost a weekly occurrence (especially when they are struggling on the ice). Nostalgia is so powerful because it takes away the pain of the present and allows us to remember the good aspects of the past without worrying about the troubles of the time.

Fast-forward 20 years and the CFL may be stronger than ever with a recent re-branding taking place. The NHL has continued to expand south, but Canada was able to regain the Winnipeg Jets and could have another franchise in Quebec or the Greater Toronto Area in the foreseeable future. To close I would like to leave you with the most difficult and thought provoking question that was raised in this paper: “what makes Canada Canadian?”

References:

Nauright, J., & White, P. (2002). Mediated Nostalgia, Community and Nation: The CFL in Crisis and the Demise of the Ottawa Roughriders. Sport History Review, 33, 121-137.

Additional articles:

http://www.cfhof.ca/grey-cup-winners/

https://www.nhl.com/news/nhl-expansion-history/c-281005106


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How can Fifa be held accountable?

By: S. Mayers

Roger Pielke Jr. (2013) examines the current state of FIFA and how they can move forward in spite of the numerous corruption charges thrown their way. The main question posed in the article – which also happens to be the title – is “how can FIFA be held accountable?” As Pielke concludes, the answer to this question is not cut and dry. FIFA has a large responsibility as they are the governing body for international soccer. Soccer is arguably the world’s most popular sport so a large percentage of the global population is keeping tabs on FIFA and their actions.

The primary time period examined in this article is the year of 2011 and subsequent years. In 2011, FIFA was facing numerous corruption charges in regards to the selection process of the 2018 and 2022 World Cups in Russia and Qatar respectively. Looking at it from a personal perspective, the decision to grant the World Cup hosting privileges to Qatar was an eye opener and made me realize that there might be a lot of corruption and dirty money being exchanged behind the scenes when these types of decisions are made.

As a fan of sport growing up, there is a certain amount of naivety and obliviousness that goes with following your favourite teams and leagues. It is easy to watch and read about these institutions with rose coloured glasses as an eight year old and not realize all the problems that might be occurring behind the scenes. As I grew older, I realized that even the most prominent sporting organizations in the world are not prone to corruption/criminal activity.

While becoming privy to this does not tarnish my image of sports as a whole, it makes me see things in a different perspective. Certain elements of sport must be taken with a grain of salt – money is the biggest factor for governing leagues and individual teams. With the globalization and the innovations in technology, sport has more opportunity than ever to grow their game and generate extreme amounts of profit.

Unfortunately, some of these adaptations may affect the product on the field, ice, or court. For instance, FIFA choosing to have the 2022 World Cup in Qatar raises several issues that could negatively influence the product on the field. Firstly, Qatar is not a traditional soccer market and this could detract from the overall experience. There may be a lack of diehard local soccer fans due to the fact that Qatar does not have a top national team. Also, the ease of travel to Qatar is not ideal and it might be difficult for fans interested in seeing the World Cup to feasibly plan a trip there. Secondly, there have been several allegations of extremely poor working conditions in the construction of the necessary stadiums for the event. I will attach a few articles to the end of this blog post which will explain the problems that have been occurring in preparation for this event. Lastly, the date of the World Cup will not be in the traditional summertime time slot. The World Cup is a legacy event which has always been known to be played in the summer months. Due to the severity of Qatar’s summer temperatures, FIFA has been forced to move the event to the winter months to ensure that the safety of the players and the fans is considered. While this is an intelligent move, it may detract from the actual event as it may be slightly more difficult to get fans engaged in January as opposed to June. It will be interesting to see how this disparity plays out. All of these potential flaws in Qatar’s World Cup bid highlight FIFA’s issues. The fact that a World Cup is being hosted by Qatar leaves a sour taste in my mouth and makes me think that something is amiss. I’m hoping that Qatar can prove me wrong and put on a great event – it will certainly be interesting to see!

Throughout the article, there were several questions that started to materialize in my mind and I wanted to propose them in this post. Some of my primary questions were:

  • Does FIFA’s abundance of corruption scandals makes it harder to be a fan of soccer?
  • Will people consider not watching the World Cup or other FIFA events due to their various scandals? Does this detract from the product?
  • At one point Pielke mentions that fans are way more concerned with the actual game and don’t really care about the inner-workings of the organization and its shady business. Do you believe that this is true?
  • Do you think FIFA should have an alternative method in selecting sites for the World Cup? Are there truly any other viable options that can mitigate the corruption and bribery?
  • Do you think that the alternative suggested by Pielke as his final point of FIFA reforming through the attrition of generational change in leadership and perspective is realistic or reasonable?

Hypothetically, how much do you think an entire new leadership group could change the culture of seediness that FIFA has created? Can cleaning house and putting together a whole new group help FIFA restore its image?

While some of these questions are broad in nature, I think they are interesting to consider and discuss. FIFA’s new president, Gianni Infantino, has a lot of work ahead of him to restore FIFA’s reputation and make them accountable. I’m intrigued to see FIFA’s trajectory over the course of the next few years and how the next few World Cups go.

Reference:

Pielke, R., Jr. (2013). How can FIFA be held accountable? Sport Management Review, 16, 255-267.

Additional articles:

http://www.bbc.com/news/magazine-33019838

https://www.theguardian.com/football/2017/sep/27/thousands-qatar-world-cup-workers-life-threatening-heat

http://www.businessinsider.com/qatar-world-cup-problems-2014-4


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Inventing Team Tradition: A Conceptual Model for the Strategic Development of Fan Nations

By: K. Ready

Foster & Hyatt (2008) focus on the fandom, examining what drives a fan to like a team, and how important fans are for sports teams.

An integral question posed in the article is: “How can a professional sport manager build a fan base of loyal, non-local fans?”. Three ways to analyze this question are:

1) How does one build a “Fan Nation”

2) How Tradition is embedded into a Fan Nation

3) One must understand their fans, and the psychology behind

Within the article, Foster and Hyatt attempt break down exactly what a constitutes a: Fan Nation. They explore the idea of fandom as a sense of belonging. Is someone a fan because they lack inclusion in their lifestyle therefore? Do they become a fan for the  purpose of feeling a sense of belonging to a certain group or crowd? Or does being a fan provide a chance to break free from the problems currently going on in the world? Further, sociologist R. Neelly Bellah stated in the article that he thought fan nations hinder society because they divide society into smaller more segmented groups or “cliques”.

Foster and Hyatt go on to explain that in order to build a Fan Nation, sport managers must understand what a fan base consists of. They argue that there are 5 potential members of a Fan Nation:

1) The Unaware Potential Fan – Completely unaware the team even exists

2) Somewhat Aware Potential Fan – Are aware of the team, but do not care for the team

3) Memorabilia Fan – This fan buys the memorabilia but does not care whether the team succeeds or fails

4) Attracted Fan – These fans follow the team, but do not have enough feelings to consider themselves a strong fan

5) Allegiant Fan – These are the fans that follow a team’s every move, and will defend the team no matter what is going on. These are also known as “Die-Hard Fans”

]Foster and Hyatt further propose that tradition must be embedded within a team for a fan nation to exist. They use the example of the Edmonton Oilers, where their third jersey is not only a representation of the current team, but also the history of the team. They identify this as a key point toward attracting fans from outside the city of the team (in this case, outside of Edmonton).

Further questions raised:

1) If you were to be appointed a GM of a professional sports team, how would you plan to grow your fan base?

2) Fan bases in popular culture can depend on so many things, such as culture, team location, players, jersey colors, etc. What do you think is the most important factor in building a fanbase?


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Not playing around: Global capitalism, modern sport and consumer culture

By: P. Lunga

Smart (2007) raise a number of interesting issues relevant for students in sport and recreation management. In KIN 6300, we have discussed a number of social theories in addressing this complex and dynamic paradigm. There is no universal theory of sport and recreation, highlighted by the reality that it is a societal phenomena with increasingly fluid cultural, political or religious boundaries. As society tries to grapple with its intricacies, it has created a platform for capitalist forces to package and commodify it through various media platforms and sports bodies to serve the interest of the few, at the expense of the masses. This phenomena started to take shape late in the 19th century and since then there has been various schools of thought that sought to address this including theories from Karl Marx, Max Weber and Pierre Bourdieu. Despite variations in theories discussed in class, there has been one common element to date — the issue of capitalism and its impact on society — in this case sport. As scholars in this field, it is intriguing how we can evaluate the various social theories available and make decisions that would help us contribute positively to sport within the parameters of a capitalist system.

Ref:

Smart, B. (2007). Not playing around: Global capitalism, modern sport and consumer culture. Global Networks, 7(2), 113-134.


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Can Actively Engaged Actually Create Gender Equity in Sport?

Actively Engaged: A Policy on Sport for Women and Girls is a national policy that came into effect January 1, 2009. The main objective of this policy is to “foster sport environments—from playground to podium—where women and girls, particularly as athlete participants, coaches, technical leaders and officials, and as governance leaders are provided with: quality sport experiences; and equitable support by sport organizations” (Canadian Hertiage, 2009, p. 6). The policy aims to achieve this objective through four different policy interventions: program improvement, strategic leadership, awareness, and knowledge development. I think there are more weaknesses than strengths to this policy.

Strengths:

  • Includes a monitoring and evaluation section
  • Acknowledges that there are cultural barriers to participation
  • Has become part of the Sport Funding and Accountability Framework

Weaknesses:

  • Lack of integration across the sport system
    • There was no mention of collaboration with the Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women and Sport and Physical Activity
    • The policy isn’t mentioned in or supported by the 2012 Canadian Sport Policy
  • Some language is vague and misleading
  • Lack of promotion/media attention surrounding policy’s release
  • Not enough women involved in the creation of this policy
  • Canadian sport system still prioritizes elite sport, so women and girls at the grassroots level will have a hard time seeing any benefits
  • There has been no follow up with how often it claims the policy will be evaluated

Overall, I think that this policy will not create the change it promises, and thus needs to be rewritten.

Reference

Canadian Heritage. (2009). Actively Engaged: A Policy on Sport for Women and Girls. Retrieved from http://canada.pch.gc.ca/eng/1414511367652/1414602693839