The Sporting Life

A pep band? Pompons? Candy and popcorn being tossed to the ‘crowd’? Are we even in the right building?

The Belmont Pep Band plays while Dr. Peetz's assistants toss candy to some surprised Scholars.
The Belmont Pep Band plays while Dr. Peetz’s assistants toss candy to some surprised Scholars.

Dr. Ted Peetz opened his CLASS Seminar with these usual accoutrements of sporting events in order to demonstrate how a sport administrator focuses on the staging and spectacle of those events. After Dr. Peetz’s own athletic career was over, he had searched for a way to remain connected to sports once he no longer played them, and learned the principles of sports marketing in college and in an internship with Ted Giannoulas, who performed across the country as the San Diego Chicken. Over the course of 100 appearances as part of Giannoulas’s support team, Dr. Peetz learned how spectacle added value to a live sporting event, and became even more interested in sports marketing and administration.

Sports fans who attend increasingly expensive live events have come to expect more than simply to watch teams compete; music, video, dance teams, mascots, giveaways, and special appearances are now all part of the spectators’ expectations. Most sport administrators work during events to improve the overall fan experience, but interestingly enough rarely get to watch the actual contests themselves.

According to Dr. Peetz, the field got its start with Walter O’Malley, the famous general manager of the Brooklyn Dodgers, who first proposed an outline of a program of study to become a sport administrator. Ohio University was the first Sport Administration program in the country, and it continues to be a fast growing field. Much of the academic work in Sport Administration shares concerns and techniques with research in the areas of marketing and psychology.

Dr. Peetz’s most recent research, for example, was in developing what he calls a “source compatibility model” for determining whether a particular endorser of a product is going to be successful.  For years, sports marketers have used either a “source credibility model,” which measures an endorser’s trustworthiness, among other things, or a “source attractiveness model,” which focuses on how well potential consumers relate to particular endorsers. Both of these source models had been used for years without any kind of research to determine their validity. Dr. Peetz found that as long as athletes were attractive, familiar, and had expertise, their credibility and even their likability were negligible factors in whether they would be successful endorsers.

The Scholars in attendance proved themselves smart consumers, very savvy about transference and other sports marketing techniques, even if they did also prove themselves a little susceptible to the blandishments of candy and crackerjacks in the process.



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