An ambitious introduction to the wide-ranging field of sport management

Søren Bennike
Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports
University of Copenhagen

Terri Byers (red) Contemporary Issues in Sport Management: A Critical Introduction 514 pages, paperback. London: Sage Publications 2016 ISBN 978-1-4462-8219-9
Terri Byers (red)
Contemporary Issues in Sport Management: A Critical Introduction
514 pages, paperback.
London: Sage Publications 2016
ISBN 978-1-4462-8219-9

Sport management is a rising field of education and research as well as business and is attached to a variety of different clusters of knowledge, such as sociology, psychology, politics, economics and law. This book takes on the enormous field as an introduction covering 34 themes, ranging from commercialization, technology and policy over gender, fan loyalty, athlete transgression and more – all under the scope of ‘Contemporary Issues in Sport Management’. The book is edited by Terri Byers and additionally 57 authors from around the globe have contributed, illustrating the width of the book. Many different sports, organisations and countries are used as examples, whereas most contributions are linked to Canada, US, UK and Australia.

I would emphasize and recommend the book especially as an educational textbook, as it guides the reader very carefully in an educational manner. Practitioners, researchers and others, interested in current issues in the emerging global field of sport management will likewise benefit from reading it. The book serves as a profitable introduction of issues in sport management, providing short texts containing key references to move further. To exemplify, the chapter on ‘politics and sport governance’ is offering references to, among others, Allison (ed. The Global Politics of Sport: The Role of Global Institutions in Sport), Giulianotti (Sport: A Critical Sociology), Guttmann (Sport: The First Five Millennia), Horne et al. (Understanding Sport, A Socio-Cultural Analysis) Houlihan (Sport and Society: A Student Introduction) and Kath Woodward (Planet Sport & Embodied Sporting Practices: Regulating and Regulatory Bodies); and the chapter on sports participation is referencing Coakley (Sports in Society: Issues and Controversies), Dunning (Sport Matters: Sociological Studies of Sport, Violence, and Civilisation) and Guttmann (From Ritual to Record) as well as the Eurobarometer (2009) and UNESCO. Each chapter highlights what kind of learning outcomes the reader should gain, and provides cases for analysis and discussion, tools for analysis and a few ‘action learning questions’ to structure the case analysis. Another aspect which defines this book as a useful educational textbook is that it finishes with a chapter on employability, highlighting essential skills and knowledge of importance to become a successful sport manager.

To some extent this strong guidance of the student makes me want to raise a concern of the educational systems of today – how much should students be nursed? Are they not able to read a text, reflect on the knowledge outcomes and see the problems to be discussed? Are we educating professionals to solve problems given to them, yet not teaching them or allowing them to identify critical challenges? I do not have the expertise of didactics and effective learning for today’s universities to engage further in this discussion, and moreover it is beyond the scope of this book review, but it is certainly worth discussing. So let me move on, and consider this a note in a bigger perspective.

How much should students be nursed? Are they not able to read a text, reflect on the knowledge outcomes and see the problems to be discussed?

Overall the book is organised in three levels: ‘Global Issues’, ‘National Issues’ and ‘Organizational Issues’. This set-up highlights that we are dealing with a multifaceted field ranging from big global political issues to “smaller” organisational and individual issues, all of which the future sports manager could meet. Some issues, I would say, are unavoidable, such as ‘Technology and Innovation’, ‘Ethical behavior’, ‘Politics and Sport Governance’, ‘Funding for Sport’ and more. Other issues are bound in specific sports and sports businesses such as ‘Animals in Sport’, ‘Mega Sport Events’, ‘Disability Sport’ and more.

I have paid close attention to 6 of the 35 chapters (‘Politics and Sport Governance’, ‘Sport Policy’, ‘Sport Participation’, ‘Funding for Sport’, ‘Trust and Control in Sport Organizations’ and ‘Corporate Social Responsibility of and through Sport’), as these are in the center of my own research and teaching. The chapter on politics and sport governance (R. Holden) falls under the heading of global issues and illustrates, with quite many well-chosen international examples, the close linkage between politics and sport and presents cases on international cricket and rugby. The chapter on sport policy (J. Yi) falls under the heading of national issues and offers an analysis of sport policy (and industry) in China which include an important historical perspective. The chapter problematizes the policies affecting the Chinese sport industry and finishes with an ‘action learning bullet’ encouraging the reader to compare other countries’ sport policy to the Chinese. If done so this could provide the chapter with a stronger global perspective, which, I believe, is of importance. The chapter on sport participation (J. Bocarro & M. Edwards) likewise falls under the heading of national issues and presents two cases on sport participation in the UK and US, though quite often international perspectives are included. The chapter opens with a short introduction going back to ancient times, thus building up for the conclusion that “sport participation is heavily influenced by societal constructions”. The chapter on funding for sport (E. Cox) does also has a national perspective dealing mainly with the UK. The chapter takes on funding for both recreational sport and elite level (and commercial) sport, and introduces the different funding sources such as public and private sector and the often shifting framework for funding.

It might seem, though, that the manifold examples have left little room for a more comprehensive introduction to theory.

The chapter on trust and control in sports organisations (T. Byers & A. Thurston) falls under the heading of organisational issues, and offers a discussion on the complex issues of control and trust. A strong point is that managers do not solely influence the organisation, as it is situated in the world and influenced by internal and external environments in times of change. The chapter brings two well-suited cases for discussion on, respectively, a ‘Clubmark’ quality accreditation of voluntary sport clubs in England, and international doping scandals. The chapter on corporate social responsibility (C. Anagnostopoulos & D. Kolyperas) provides important points on an important and timely aspect of sport management – the CSR. The chapter introduces CSR, distinguishing between CSR of sport and CSR through sport, and presents two cases to show the difference. One case is on the elite basketball club the Birmingham Knights’ (UK) founding and subsequent close collaboration with the Birmingham Sport and Education Foundation which is targeting issues such as racial and cultural tensions and anti-social behavior and crime. The other case is on the American based global financial and communications company Western Union and how it, through the game of football, aims at providing education for underprivileged children and thus demonstrating social responsibility while at the same time strengthening its brand image.

I have two concerns with the book. The first is the strong focus on the commonwealth countries and the US and issues linked to these contries. But let me underline that the knowledge provided nonetheless is useful in other contexts – as with the cases.

The second is linked to the wide scope of the book. The themes touched upon are many and it challenges the possibility of digging deeper into the understanding as the chapters are rather short. In most chapters you will find a large amount of examples, which I find beneficial for the understanding of the specific subject. It might seem, though, that the manifold examples have left little room for a more comprehensive introduction to theory, even though it is emphasized that a theoretical context is essential for the understanding of for instance ‘the realities of governance’. Overall I imagine that all contributing authors have struggled to compress quite extensive themes into very few pages. As also encouraged by the editor, I would too encourage readers working with issues described in the book to read beyond the chapters presented. On that note this book is a beneficial starting point to find ways into further relevant literature.

All in all, though, this is a valuable and useful book for any student of sport management to have ready at hand, as it does cover a variety of ‘contemporary issues in sport management’, as promised in the title. Without a doubt, students and scholars in the field of sport management will encounter more than a few of the themes covered in the book.

Copyright © Søren Bennike 2016


Table of Content

Terri Byers: Introduction


Oliver Rick, Callie Batts-Maddox and David L. Andrews: Glocal Sport – Impact on Corporations and Institutions
Patrick A. Reid and Daniel S. Mason: The Commercialization of Sport
Antonio Davila and George Foster: Technology and Innovation
Wladimir Andrea: Corruption in Sport
Chris Gratton, Dongfeng Liu, Girish Ramchandani and Darryl Wilson: The Global Economics of Sport
Gabriela Tymowski, Terri Byers and Fred Mason: Ethical Behaviour and Values in Sport
Russell Holden: Politics and Sport Governance
Kevin Carpenter: International Sport Law
Andrea Geurin-Eagleman: Media and Communications
Shannon Kerwin: Human Resource Management in Sport
Danny O’Brien and Ben Corbett: Strategic Management
Andrew Byers and Dene Stansall: Animals in Sport



Jiandong Yi: Sport Policy
Kamilla Swart: Mega Sport Events
Jason Bocarro and Michael Edwards: Sport Participation
Mark McDonald and Kirsty Spence: Leadership
Annelies Knoppers and Agnes Elling-Machartzi: Gender
Leigh Robinson and Mathieu Wiland: Performance Mangement
Aaron Smith and Bob Stewart: Doping
David Forrest: Gambling and the Sports Betting Industry
Elwyn Cox: Funding for Sport
Andrew Harvey and Haim Levi: Match Fixing in International Sport
Ian Brittain: Disability Sport



John Beech: Ownership
Sebastian Kopera: Social Media Challenges
Olan Scott, Katherine Bruffy and Michael Naylor: Managing Social Media in Sport
Jonathon Edwards: Brand Management in Sport
Stacey Hall: Crisis Management
Ryan Scoats and Eric Anderson: Sexuality: Homohysteria and Coming Out in Sport
Joeri Koenigstorfer: Fan Loyalty in Sport
Terri Byers and Alex Thurston: Trust and Control in Sport Organizations
Nicolas Chanavat and Guillaume Bodet: Sponsorship in Sport
Kate Westberg, Constantino Stavros, Bradley Wilson and Aaron Smith: Athlete Transgressions: Implications for Sports Managers
Christos Anagnostopoulos and Dimitrios Kolyperas: Corporate Social Responsibility of and through Sport



Terri Byers: Conclusions: The Employability ‘Race’ in Sport Management
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