Thilo Kunkel, Ph.D.

Thinking about the same things differently: Examining perceptions of a non-profit community sport organisation

Thinking about the same things differently: Examining perceptions of a non-profit community sport organisation (Lock, D., Filo, K., Kunkel, T., & Skinner, J.) Sport Management Review (ERA ranked: A) This paper explores the differing perceptions and identity responses (identification, apathy and disidentification) that potentially exist in relation to one non-profit Community Sport Organisation (CSO), and whether they explain variations in individuals’ existing values and beliefs, sport interest, community identification and views about one organisation’s legitimacy. Data were collected using a quantitative online survey (n = 390), then analysed using Confirmatory Factor Analysis (CFA) and Multiple Analysis of Variance (MANOVA) to test three hypotheses investigating whether existing values and beliefs, shared community values, local players, organisational practices and sport interest varied based on perception of organisational image and identity response. Based on the contributions of this study, non-profit CSOs should spend time developing understanding of the key dimensions that make them relevant to constituents and to decipher the values and beliefs that underpin what external audiences expect from organisations. In addition, understanding specifically what a CSO’s audience expects is fundamental if the organisation is to be perceived as legitimate in relation to its purpose. Send an email to receive a copy of the article.

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Sports spectator segmentation: Examining the differing psychological connections amongst spectators of leagues and teams

Sports spectator segmentation: Examining the differing psychological connections amongst spectators of leagues and teams (Doyle, J. P., Kunkel, T., & Funk, D. C., 2013). International Journal of Sport Marketing and Sponsorship. (ERA ranked: B) The results from this study extend previous research by empirically testing the involvement based Psychological Continuum Model (PCM) segmentation procedure on sports spectators. To date, the procedure has only been verified using sports participants, although the PCM was developed with a broader range of sports consumers in mind. The validity of the procedure is confirmed using two online surveys, which gather data from spectators at both the league (n=761) and team (n=623) level. A three-step segmentation procedure then places respondents into the PCM stages – awareness, attraction, attachment and allegiance. ANOVA tests indicate that the four groups significantly differ from one another on attitudinal and behavioural measures for both league and team spectators. Findings suggest that the PCM is an appropriate framework to investigate fan development at both league and team levels. Thus sports marketers are provided with a research segmentation tool capable of helping them to better understand their heterogeneous consumer bases and thus guide marketing decisions.

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The attractiveness of national and international football leagues–the perspective of fans of “underdogs” and “star clubs”

The attractiveness of national and international football leagues – the perspective of fans of “underdogs” and “star clubs” (Koenigstorfer, Groeppel-Klein, & Kunkel, 2010) European Sport Management Quarterly (ERA ranked: B) The goal of this study is to determine what factors affect the attractiveness of both national football leagues and the Champions League from the perspective of fans, and how these factors are viewed by fans of clubs at the top and bottom of the league table. This is of interest as there are differences between the financial resources available to the clubs and leagues. Based on the literature on sport consumer behaviour, we propose that four determinants are relevant to the league’s attractiveness: stadium atmosphere, international success of the clubs, uniqueness of dominating clubs and perceived competitive balance. A total of 1,404 committed fans of 12 selected football teams from the UK Premier League and German Bundesliga participated in the study. The research model was tested using PLS. The results show that the determinants significantly impact perceived attractiveness, and that even fans of financially privileged and successful clubs concede that perceived competitive balance is necessary for the attractiveness to be maintained. Request the article here: [filebyemail file = 289]

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Soccer in Australia: Is history repeating Itself?

Soccer in Australia: Is history repeating Itself? Skinner, J. & Kunkel, T. (2012). Soccer in Australia: Is history repeating itself? Original published at: The Conversation, 24.04.2012. “Soccer in Australia occupies a paradoxical position in the Australian sporting landscape. It has the highest overall participant rates, yet is ranked fourth of the four football codes in popularity and resources. This position means it is seen as a marginal code when it comes to gaining media attention, opportunities for players in Australia, sponsorship and revenue generation opportunities. The recent breakdown in relations between Football Federation of Australia (FFA) and two of its highest profile and powerful club owners, mining magnates Clive Palmer and Nathan Tinkler has the capacity to further threaten the corporate and media attractiveness of the sport’s A-League competition. These circumstances are reminiscent of the circumstances that confronted its predecessor, the National Soccer League (NSL) and ultimately led to its demise. The National Soccer League (NSL) was the first truly national premiership competition of any sporting code in Australia. But from its inception in 1977, the NSL was a highly volatile league, plagued by problems and controversies that combined to make soccer a difficult product to develop at the elite level in Australia. The failure to retain or attract high quality players, tension between clubs and supporters stemming from “traditional” European political, racial and cultural conflicts, financial instability and poor senior-level management were all prominently reported in the sporting and business sections of the Australian media. More seriously, continued and extensive media publicity surrounding alleged mismanagement and corruption in Soccer Australia eventually resulted in the Australian Sports Commission in 2003 establishing an Independent Soccer Review Committee. The committee’s report on the governance of Association Football in Australia, called the Crawford Report, clearly articulated that the key to the future success of soccer in Australia was the governance of the professional aspects of a sport. Following the recommendations of Crawford Report, further change occurred in 2004 when the governing body, the Australian Soccer Association changed its name to the Football Federation of Australia (FFA). The FFA created the A-League, a new eight-team competition to revitalise soccer in Australia, to replace the NSL. Early signs suggested that the A-League was playing its role in providing a link between the game’s huge participant community and the new-found success of the Australian representative team. In doing so, the FFA was driving the repositioning of soccer into Australian sport’s mainstream. Match day, television and online audiences suggested the on and off-field quality of the A-League was resonating and engaging a significant section of the Australian sporting community outside of its marginalised ethnic origins. But now the controversies that confronted the NSL have returned to challenge the A-League. During its existence the NSL had 41 teams who participated in the competition with only three founding member teams remaining in the league by 2003. Seven years into the A-League, the competition is looking to introduce a new expansion team in Sydney to maintain 10 teams for the 2012/2013 competition. This expansion has come at the cost of losing clubs such as the North Queensland Fury, Gold Coast United and possibly the Newcastle Jets. With the Wellington Phoenix replaced the original New Zealand franchise, Auckland’s New Zealand Knights, the number of clubs leaving the competition seems to suggest a replicating trend. Similarly, numerous reports suggest that A-league clubs are incurring large operational losses, sponsorship dollars are sparse and sourcing playing talent to ensure a certain quality are all challenges that continue to confront the FFA. More concerning however has been the Tinkler’s plans to return the Newcastle Jets A-League licence, coupled with the highly public stoush between FFA chairman Frank Lowy and Clive Palmer’s move to set up his own unofficial watchdog organisation, Football Australia. Interestingly, the feud mirrors the 1987 actions of Lowy, who as president of Sydney City pulled the plug on his club, complaining about a lack of influence over the running of the league, differences with the league’s senior management and the NSL’s business model. One of the central suggestions of the Crawford Report was to ensure the independence of the governing body of the league from the governing body of the game. Steps to remedy this current breakdown have been taken with the formation of the FFA Strategic Committee which allows three owner representatives to sit on the committee which may assist in facilitating some changes that owners would like to see. While other suggestions, such as spreading the competition to a national level and starting with a one-team-per-city policy have been followed, an independent league may have been the missing piece to avoid some of the NSL’s problems. Given the tarnished history of the sport in Australia, the footballing public would hope it is capable of learning from its previous mistakes. Recent events may suggest otherwise.”

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