The transcript

Let’s consider what exactly is a sport organization?

Most of us instinctively think of our favorite teams, or the active hobbies we pursue. Or maybe we think about the media companies that broadcast our favorite teams and sports.

But sport organizations might also be service-based businesses and companies that make equipment or awards. There are events that used to be considered games that have moved into the sport industry based on participation and viewing.

Sport organizations are facilities, charitable foundations and the competing people themselves. They are the agents, lawyers, photographers, web designers and ticket agencies that service them, too.

Your text will describe how some authors have tried to segment the sport industry so that all sport entities can neatly fit into a category. As you’ll learn in the reading this isn’t that easy to do. You have a website helper page so that you can review all this at your own pace for further understanding.

In our class we’re going to focus on sport organizations that primarily feature people as the core product. And, as we all know, the person who competes being the core product of a sport organization opens up those organizations to different kinds of problems. For example, the product might look like this, but sometimes that.

This is one big way that sport PR can be differentiated from other industry PR, by the way. If you’re handling public relations for a company that sells these, you don’t typically worry about what that product might say or do. But for this one? Yep, it’s a different set of challenges.

Sport Organizations

For our purposes, a sport organization (SPORG) is an organization that conducts business within the sport industry. The sport industry is massive so we're going to consider ways to segment as we consider common types of sport organizations.

Before we dive into sport organization's mission and structure, let's consider types of sport products as one way to segment the sport industry.
Sport product types
Next, let's consider the products that sport organizations typically offer. There may be outliers, but basically, they can all be grouped into one of these categories:
  • Goods
    Tangible goods (t-shirts, gear, shoes, balls, bats, etc.)
    Intangible goods (people, experiences)
    While people who compete are tangible, their performances as they compete are not. A consumer is paying for the performance. Experiences may have tangible parts to them, such as the tickets purchased to an event, but the experience (watching the event or playing a round of golf) is not tangible.
  • Services
    Consulting or expertise areas (agronomy, architecture, crisis communication, medicine, software/IT, tickets, the possibilities might be endless)
  • Places
    A sporting venue (arena, golf course, health club, stadium)
    A virtual space (sports media enterprises, video games, websites)
An academic model of sport organizations
From Strategic Sport Communication (2017), Meek's (1997) model is particularly useful and serves our purposes well:
  • A. Sport entertainment
    Team or individual competitive sports and ventures, events (tournaments), etc.
  • B. Sport products or services
    Equipment, manufacturing, venues (i.e. a golf course), ticket services, media outlets (i.e. ESPN), etc.
  • C. Sport support organizations
    Leagues, conferences, associations, law firms, etc.
Sport organizations types
Here are a list of categories of sport organizations. The lists under each category is NOT meant to be exhaustive, only to illustrate how many kinds of sport organizations there are and where we might group them using Meek's (1997) model.
  • College sports teams (A)
    Division I athletics departments and teams
    Division II athletics departments and teams
    Division III athletics departments and teams
    NAIA athletics departments and teams
  • Professional sports teams (A)
    Auto racing teams
    AVP teams, pro teams from all other countries
    MLB teams, minor league teams, independent league teams
    MLS teams, international soccer teams, Manchester U anyone?
    NBA teams, pro teams from all other countries
    NFL teams, pro teams from all other countries
    NHL teams, pro teams from all other countries
    NPF teams
    WNBA teams
    WPSL teams
    … and on and on
  • School districts (C)
    High schools (U.S.)
    Junior high schools (U.S.)
    Elementary school (U.S.)
    International club team sport organizations
  • Professional leagues (C)
    AVP
    LPGA
    MLB
    MLS
    NASCAR
    NBA
    NFL
    NHL
    NPF
    PBA
    PGA
    WNBA
    WPSL
    … and on and on
  • Collegiate sports conferences (C)
    ACC
    Big 10
    Big 12
    Big West
    … and on and on
  • Other sports governing bodies (C)
    High school governing bodies
    International Olympic Committee (IOC)
    National governing bodies (NGBs, FIFA)
    National Collegiate Athletic Association NCAA (also, NAIA)
    Officials organizations (Pro and amateur sport officials have governing agencies, too)
    Youth sports leagues (AYSO, Little League, etc.)
    … and on and on
  • Sports media companies/properties (B)
    CBS Sports
    ESPN
    Fox Sports
    Garbage time with Katie Nolan (Mike & Mike, and all the like) Yes, that was an intentional rhyme.
    Sports Illustrated
    … and on and on
  • Sports apparel, equipment, games, gear, nutrition, fantasy websites (B)
    Dick's Sporting Goods
    EA games (yes, video games count if they're based on other sports)
    Gatorade
    Nike
    Rawlings
    Titles
    Under Armour
    … and on and on (OMG, there could be so many of these)
  • Sports venues (B)
    Arenas
    Golf Courses
    Health Clubs
    Hotels in Las Vegas (hello, boxing?)
    Racetracks (for auto, horses or anything where something races and people watch or compete, OMG)
    Stadiums
    Tennis Courts
    … and on and on
  • Municipal government agencies (what?) (B or C)
    Parks and recreation departments in cities (aka municipalities) (B)
    University (public and private) recreation departments and facilities (B)
    Maintenance operations (the folks that mow the grass for co-ed slo pitch league's parks, for example) (C)
  • Expertise-based consulting businesses (C)
    Agents
    Architects
    Athletic training/sports medicine
    Crisis communications (generally handled by external PR firms)
    Data analysis and research firms
    Graphic design
    Issues consulting
    Lawyers
    Software/IT
    Sports books/gambling operations
    Ticket agencies
    Video
    Websites
    … and on and on
  • Sport foundations (C)
    "Do Good" organizations that center on sports (found at all levels of sport participation)
  • Professional sports people are SPORGs too (A)
    Usain Bolt
    Bryce Harper
    LeBron James
    Peyton Manning (even after they retire, they might still be SPORGs)
    Lionel Messi
    Danica Patrick
    Michael Phelps
    Jordan Speith
    Kerri Walsh Jennings
    Serena Williams
    … and on and on
When you look at this list of types of sport organizations, you should be able to see not only how vast the sport industry is, but how hard it is to create a "simple academic" model that easily categorizes them. Good news for students, there are many more ways to work in the sport industry than many people think. And, all of these organizations have communication roles.
Organizational Charts
How does an organization visually show what their structure is, once they've formed it? Most use a tool called an organizational chart (org chart). It usually makes sense for people just beginning to think about "org charts" to look at a military example because of its obvious hierarchy: A General is a higher rank than a colonel.

Military example
For more information about org charts, here's a LINK to the Wikipedia page where the image originated.
Stacks Image 405
In our class, our list of offices might convert to an visual organization chart that looks like the one shown here when you click on the button.
PR Class example
Stacks Image 430
An org chart allows a person to understand which levels of people have authority over another. In our class example, the college president has authority over the athletic director who has authority over all other personnel.

Because we are only investigating communication roles for a sport organization, only the external operations/strategic communication department is shown with four levels of authority, president, A.D. executive level person (shown in blue) and then the offices the executive would oversee (marketing, communications, video and ticket services).
Close
If you're curious about the org chart for the Texas Tech Athletics Department, HERE is a link to how that sport organization visually represents its hierarchy.