Skip to Main content Skip to Navigation
New interface
Journal articles

Understanding ethnographically athletes" perception and experience of sponsorship: the case of professional rock-climbing

Abstract : Athlete sponsorship plays an undeniable role in contributing to brand awareness, brand image and corporate image. However, current research predominantly investigates sponsorship through the position of the sponsor and little is known about athletes" experiences. This article addresses this gap by engaging empirically with athletes to provide a better understanding of how they experience sponsorship and its effects on their relationships with sponsors.Research methods: The article draws on multi-sites and digital ethnographic fieldwork in the USA and Europe. A series of 48 in-depth interviews were conducted with high-profile athletes (n = 22), media producers (n = 14), team managers and agents (n = 8), and consultants (n = 4). In addition, online and offline audio-visual materials were collected and analyzed.Results and findings: Sponsorship is shaped by the low-organized and highly competitive nature of the labor market, limited economic circulation, and vocational commitment. In this context, it was found that, on the one hand, athletes" commitment revolves around strong emotional and socio-symbolic dimensions, as well as close social relationships with companies" members. On the other hand, companies struggle in understanding and addressing athletes" expectations, especially communicating and providing athletes with guidelines and objectives about their work.Implications: While athletes" commitment revolves mainly around non-rational factors, from their perspective companies fail in supporting their role as ambassador in adopting rational behaviors. To improve athletes" commitment to sponsorship, their motivations and expectations have to be acknowledged. Furthermore, a structured, goal-orientated, and sustained communication is needed, as well as the adoption of a proactive role in seeking activation opportunities. On the whole, three main recommendations can be formulated: Build dialogue, adopt a proactive role, and provide guidance.
Document type :
Journal articles
Complete list of metadata
Contributor : Depot 3 Lyon 1 Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, October 23, 2019 - 2:47:22 PM
Last modification on : Monday, February 14, 2022 - 2:18:07 PM




Guillaume Dumont. Understanding ethnographically athletes" perception and experience of sponsorship: the case of professional rock-climbing. European Sport Management Quarterly, 2016, 16 (4), pp.525-542. ⟨10.1080/16184742.2016.1171375⟩. ⟨hal-02329259⟩



Record views