Christian Tolstrup Jensen
University of South-Eastern Norway
Sport event management is two-faced. It is the subject of study for researchers, and the everyday practice of great many people, who in a wide range of ways contribute to the staging of sport events. The Routledge handbook of sports event management comes out primarily of the milieu of the former, but is very considerate about the latter. It is a book by researchers on the state of the art in their field. However, it also makes an effort not just to reflect on the research field but also to be a handbook for the practitioner.
This already becomes apparent in the table of content. It lists 21 chapters, 19 of which are devoted to 19 “key” sport event stakeholders (p. 12). These “key” stakeholders are chosen for their practical importance, not their position in the research, and so the list becomes a source of information in itself. At the same time, this approach challenges the field of research to show how well its priorities fit with the everyday practice. As all the chapters are of more or less the same length, this could indicate a perfect match. However, this is not case. Rather, it shows the creativity used by some authors on less researched but nevertheless relevant areas such as the mission staff (chapter 11) or (I)NGOs (chapter 20) compared to e.g. research on the volunteers (chapter 4).
Chapter 7, for instance, on the athletes’ perspective is written by a researcher together with an athlete representative. The state of art is not discussed, the short list of references speaks for itself; instead the chapter discusses the relevance and role of the athlete for events as “the prime producer /…/ of sport event competitions” through a description of the various forums for athlete representation (p. 125). In this way, the chapter amounts to contributing to research as well as being orientated towards practice.
The editors thus fulfil their aim of stressing the connection between practice and research. Firstly, each chapter in some way describe the stakeholder, its potential impact on the event and consider the “normative aspect”, i.e. sustainability, CSR, legacy etc. (p. 14). Several of the chapters emphasise for instance how the bidders are important for shaping the legacy of the sport event(p. 35-36) and provide practical advice: “The important point is that once the purpose and motives are clear /…/ the event selection can follow” (p. 30), or “what is important /…/ is for the host region to pick the right event” (p. 58). Chapter four on volunteers, one of the most praxis-orientated chapters, even has a step-by-step guide for the practitioners and the benefits of volunteers. This makes for a very positive perspective on the volunteers, but as is pointed out at the very end: negative effects of volunteering and conflict of interests is a gap in the research (p. 85). Here the books strict adherence to one stakeholder per chapter shows another strength, as it is easy, if one is interested, to immediately read another chapter on, say, the national government or tourism with this theme in mind (volunteering) and think of possible relations between the two.Finally, the book has a nifty section that is relevant for both the researcher and the event manager.
A consequence, though, perhaps inherent to the handbook genre in general, of the stakeholder structure and the guidelines in the introduction, is that most of the chapters adopt a stakeholder theory approach. An article asking for new theoretical approaches thus often use a rather classical approach instead of showing by doing (e.g. chapter 3). This is the case with the methodology as well, where most of the chapters consist of case studies in addition to the state of the art. This gives examples and coherence across the many chapters, which definitely is valuable, but limits the theoretical gains for the reader; for that one has to look elsewhere.
The events in the books allegedly revolve around “small, medium, major/large and mega sport events, be they one-off or reoccurring, and single-sport or multisport events” (p. 12). The editors do part of the job towards developing a typology of events in the introduction (with the additional dichotomy profit / non-profit) (p. 5). However, the remainder of the chapters do not consider this. They mostly consider mega events (as does the event research in general), but eventually there are chapters on small events, too (chapter 3 and 12) in non-western settings (e.g. chapter 15 includes events in Taiwan and 17 on Kuala Lumpur). However, as the book is structured around the stakeholders, one has to read the whole of the book to get this perspective (or use the detailed index!).
One the most discussed terms currently within sport event research and practitioners is event legacy. Naturally, this also features across multiple chapters, but due to the structure it’s not discussed in the course of the main part of book, nor in the conclusion. I think it would have contributed well to relate the book to the broader field of event research.
Finally, the book has a nifty section that is relevant for both the researcher and the event manager. Each chapter has a section with recommended reading, which leads the reader to the stakeholder’s own field of research, e.g., sport for development in the chapter on NGOs or the influence of the family on sport in the chapter on sports parents, chapter 20 and 10 respectively.
Copyright © Christian Tolstrup Jensen 2019
 See for instance Holt, R., & Ruta, D. (Eds.). (2015). Routledge Handbook of Sport and Legacy: Meeting the Challenge of Major Sports Events.Routledge.
Table of Content
Table of Content
Section 1: The Organizers
Section 2: The Sport Organizations
Section 3: The Participants
Section 4: The Support
Section 5: The Community
Section 6: The Funders
Section 7: The Media
Section 8: Other Stakeholders
Section 9: Conclusions