Understanding professionalization in sport organizations – A case study of the ACT Brumbies.

The other day a new paper that I published with my PhD Student, Stirling Sharpe and colleague, Anthony Beaton about professionalization of sport organizations came out in the Journal of Global Sport Management. We used the ACT Brumbies Super Rugby Club as our case. The abstract of the article is below and can be accessed here. The full title of our paper is Considering Ongoing Professionalization in Sport Organizations: A Case Study of the ACT Brumbies Super Rugby Club.

The increasing commercialism of sport has been accompanied by pressure for sport organizations to become (more) professional. The kitchen table or boardroom approaches that may be ingrained in accepted values within organizations are being challenged by contemporary business principles of sport organization governance. While considerable work has been conducted under the banner of the professionalization of sport, there has been limited research addressing the ongoing  professionalization of organizations which have already moved away from being volunteer based and are operating in a business-like manner. This research provides a case study of the ACT Brumbies rugby union club in Australia addressing this issue with interviews conducted within three key stakeholder groups of this organization: Board members, operations staff, and players. Semi-structured interviews were conducted with a purposive sample of twelve stakeholders. Results indicated that the ongoing professionalization process had differing impacts on operations for various employees

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Dear Australia, it’s been a blast

Dear Australian friends and family,

It is with mixed feelings that I write this post as the end of an extremely long and wonderful era in my life comes to a close. Four weeks from now, I am set to travel to St Catharines in Canada where I have taken a new job at Brock University, so I’ll be leaving Australia for the foreseeable future. I have truly enjoyed living all over Australia starting on the Gold Coast and ending in Canberra. I have done some amazing things in this country, made some amazing lifelong friends, and achieved a lot both personally and professionally. It has been a wonderful ride that I will look back on with fondness and cherish the memories that I have forever.

Initially, I came to Australia to live for one year while I studied a Master of Sport Management by coursework and I ended up doing a thesis, then a PhD, working all over the country and travelling the breadth of the country too. It’s been a most wonderful and magical 13+ years and I’m so thankful that I was able to spend so much time here.

I’ve made some many lifelong friends, many of whom are like family to me. From the folks I met during my studies on the Gold Coast, who I keep in contact with to those wonderful people in Canberra who I see more regularly and all the rest of the people at various stops in-between, I will truly miss you all and I look forward to keeping in touch with you via all the methods we now have at our disposal. My friends have meant the world to me and have shared in all the great and good times with me and supported me through the less good times, so to all of you, I say Thanks! You’ve been fantastic. For those travellers, you’re all most welcome to come visit me; particularly those travelling to Niagara Falls or Toronto as I’ll be very close by.

Over the years, I’ve done so many wickedly cool things, like skydive, learn how to surf, travel the outback, scuba dive all over the country, and so many other things that I could spend days naming. Nonetheless, it’s been a brilliant experience and I’ve memories to last many lifetimes. It has been such an eye opener being able to experience so much of Australia (and the world) during my time here and I’ve loved it beyond measure. I look forward to experiencing more of Australia as life moves into different chapters and teach my niece the nuances of the pick-and-roll and ensure she becomes a basketballer.

However, this isn’t saying goodbye, it’s me saying so long and in the words of Arnold in Terminator 2: “I’ll be back”

My move will be 24 August when the new chapter in life starts and this one concludes.

With lots of love, Olan

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LESSONS OF PERSONAL ATHLETE BRANDING VIA SOCIAL MEDIA

Since 2015, I’ve been involved with some work in athlete branding, media management, and crisis communication with my colleague Thilo Kunkel of Temple University. The first of our publications was published in late 2016 about the work we have done with Michael Lahoud, who is a professional currently playing for Miami FC in the North American Soccer League (NASL). He was born in Sierra Leone, where he escaped civil war when he was six years old. As a refugee, soccer helped him to integrate in the United States of America, where he was drafted as the ninth overall pick in the 2009 Major League Soccer (MLS) Superdraft. He is a community advocate who uses his sport to support charitable efforts, such as The Wall Las Memorias project, the NoH8 campaign, and Schools for Salone. He was the Major League Soccer Humanitarian of the Year in 2010, and together with Kei Kamara, he is the recipient of the 2015 FIFPro World Players’ Union Merit Award (a prize worth $25,000), which recognized their involvement in the Schools for Salone project that builds schools in their home country of Sierra Leone. His brand is Soccer can make a difference. This interview consists of two parts, with the first part being conducted in December 2015 when he was a player of the MLS team Philadelphia Union, and the second part being conducted in July 2016 after two transfers within 4 months. The interviews provide an overview of his approach to athlete branding via social media, and its impact on his career.

You can read and download the full article here: publisher, academia.edu, or researchgate.

Using self-categorization theory to uncover the framing of the 2015 Rugby World Cup: A cross-cultural comparison of three nations’ newspapers

In the context of international sporting contests, which typically attract great interest globally, the coverage of these events by newspapers help to define, influence, and sometimes reflect mainstream beliefs. Although media consumers have no influence over how stories are framed, editors and journalists can construct their narratives and stories to attract, maintain, and foster continued media consumption (Scott, Zakus, & Hill, 2014; Vincent & Crossman, 2012). Informed by framing theory, this study strove to investigate how two nations’ coverage of the Rugby World Cup (RWC) was characterised. Framing occurs as the media actively select certain aspects of an issue to report, affecting the understanding of the message people receive (Entman, 2007).

We conducted a content analysis of the newspaper coverage of the 2015 RWC in New Zealand, South Africa, and Australia and have recently had it published in the International Review for the Sociology of Sport. This study is currently in press at this journal and is available from the publisher, academia.edu, and researchgate.

Points of attachment on social media: exploring similarities and differences between Chinese and Western National Basketball Association fans

Recently, I was able to work with Dr Bo (Norman) Li and Dr Steve Dittmore on a paper to uncover how Western and Chinese sport fans, particularly those following the Los Angeles Lakers NBA team, ecome attached to the club. This study will be published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Sport and Social Science’s forthcoming special issue on Sport in China.

The full paper is available here: from the publisher, academia.edu, or researchgate. The full abstract appears below.

ABSTRACT

 

Given the availability and usage of Twitter, professional sport organizations attempt to embrace this emerging medium to engage with sports fans around the world. While many sports fans use Twitter globally, Chinese sports fans primarily embrace localized social media platforms, such as Weibo, to follow their favourite teams because many international mainstream social media services are banned in China. This study aimed to investigate the similarities and differences between Chinese National Basketball Association (NBA) fans and Western NBA fans in terms of their social media usage and points of attachment to a team with a global presence. The results revealed that Chinese digital NBA fans expressed higher dependence on using social media in their daily life compared to Western counterparts. In terms of sports fans’ points of attachment, Chinese NBA fans had higher associations with basketball, NBA players, and the NBA than Western counterparts, while Western fans perceived a higher attachment to the team.