Sport Ecology Research Archives


Sport Ecology: Conceptualizing an Emerging Subdiscipline Within Sport Management

McCullough, B. P., Orr, M., & Kellison, T. (2020).

Sport ecology is a newly-coined term used to best describe the study of sport, the natural environment, and the codependence between the two. People are more familiar with terms like “sustainability” or “green” to describe interactions with the natural environment, but the ambiguity and overuse of these terms render them ineffective, particularly in an academic context, to know what exactly is being discussed. So, we created the term sport ecology. 

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Measuring Externalities: The Imperative Next Step to Sustainability Assessment in Sport

McCullough, B. P., Orr, M., & Watanabe, N. M. (2019).

The growing emphasis on the effects of climate change has highlighted the urgency for all stakeholders, from countries to corporations to individuals, to reduce their environmental impacts and contributions to greenhouse gas emissions. Increased commitments to fighting climate change are occurring across the globe, but the sport sector routinely ignores or underestimates its detrimental impact on the natural environment. Despite evidence that sustainability initiatives are also good for the financial bottom line, sport has done little to move the needle. This inaction can be tied to the current inadequacies of existing methods of data collection within the sport sector to assess the full scope of its environmental impact.

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Marketing Sustainability Through Sport: Testing the Sport Sustainability Campaign Evaluation Model

Trail, G. T., & McCullough, B. P. (2019).

Sport organizations are increasingly developing and executing sport sustainability campaigns. These campaigns strive to engage their audiences to participate in and advance their sustainability behaviors both during and outside of the sporting event itself. Previously, there were no methods available to evaluate the effectiveness of these campaigns, which limited their potential for success. The Sport Sustainability Campaign Evaluation Model (SSCEM) fills this void, giving sport managers an opportunity to better understand their participants’ and fan’s perceptions towards sustainability. Sport managers can then use this knowledge to increase positive attitudes and minimize negative influences, thereby increasing the overall effectiveness of the campaign.

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Examining Environmental Fan Engagement Initiatives Through Values and Norms with Intercollegiate Sport Fans

Casper, J. M., McCullough, B. P., & Pfahl, M. E. (2020).

Turns out, all fans, not just the ones who identify as environmentally-conscious, are receptive to, aware of, and influenced by sports’ sustainability initiatives. These findings provide an opportunity for sport managers to leverage their sustainability initiatives not only to increase fan participation but also to monetize these initiatives in the form of sponsorships. Because more fans than one would assume are open to sustainability messaging, the reach of these initiatives and sponsorships can be greater than anticipated.

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Physical Activity and Climate Change Attitudes

McCullough, B. P., Hohensee, S., & Cunningham, G. B. (2019).

A definitive relationship exists between physical activity and one’s beliefs in climate change and policies needed to curb climate change’s effects. The more someone is outside, engaging in nature (e.g. exercise, leisure, sports), the more that person believes climate change personally impacts them, the more that person believes policies are needed to address climate change. If your values or habits are negatively impacted by something or otherwise threatened, you likely will be inclined to take action to protect those values or habits. The finding of this study supports those assumptions.

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Pollution, Health, and the Moderating Role of Physical Activity Opportunities

McCullough, B. P., Wicker, P., & Cunningham, G. B. (2020).

It is no secret that air and water pollution are harmful to one’s health. It is also no secret that physical activity is beneficial to one’s health. Before this study it was unknown if the health benefits of physical activity were still present in areas of high pollution. This study explored the relationship of air and water pollution to poor health; the relationship of physical activity to poor health; and the relationship between physical activity, pollution, and health at the county level in the United States. 

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Collegiate Athletics Environmental Sustainability Efforts Within STARS

Pelcher, J. A., McCullough, B. P., & Trendafilova, S. A. (2020)

The Association for the Advancement of Sustainability in Higher Education (AASHE) developed a Sustainability Tracking, Assessment, & Rating System, known as STARS. Colleges and universities utilize this standardized self-assessment tool to report their sustainability initiatives. Universities use these metrics to compare and contrast their efforts as well as create a robust database used to more effectively strategically plan for sustainability. One of the five categories of the report, the Innovation section, provides a “Green Athletics” opportunity for universities to earn points for their athletics departments’ sustainability endeavors.

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Leveraging Sport As A Venue And Vehicle For Transformative Sustainability Learning

McCullough, B. P., Orr, M., & Pelcher, J. A. (2020)

Given greater awareness of environmental issues and the acceleration of climate change, universities are increasingly requiring undergraduate students to complete coursework in environmental issues. Research has shown that environmental courses hosted in science departments can be too challenging for students with no science background. Thus, new approaches to general environmental education at the undergraduate level are necessary. This paper aims to advance three transformative sustainability learning (TSL) interventions that leverage sport as the living laboratory for environmental education through examining green teams and in depth sport venue tours.

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Angelenos’ Environmental Attitudes and Behaviors in Advance of LA 2028

McCullough, B. P., & Kellison, T. (2020)

In the past twenty-five years, Olympic host cities have increasingly focused their attention on environmental issues. Given the growing emphasis on environmental sustainability across sport, the purpose of this project was to examine the environmental attitudes and behaviors of residents in Los Angeles, the host city of the 2028 Olympic and Paralympic Games.

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An Exploratory Analysis of the Environmental Sustainability Performance Signaling Communications Among North American Sport Organizations

Pelcher, J. A., McCullough, B. P., & Trendafilova, S. A.

We analyzed the websites of 147 North American sport organizations and their associated venue websites for environmental performance signaling communications. We found that only one sport organization featured an environmental report on its website, and 42 sport organizations highlighted environmental initiatives through dedicated webpages on the respective team or venue’s website. Predominately, these communications focused on fan engagement initiatives (i.e., awareness, participation) but lacked goal setting, measurement metrics, or performance summaries. We discuss these themes, the implications, and recommendations for how sustainability performance signaling can be better leveraged in the North American sport sector

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Examining Sport Fans and the Endangered Species Who Represent Their Affiliated Team Mascots

McCullough, B. P., & Sartore-Baldwin, M. L.

The purpose of this study was to explore the relationship sport fans have with their mascots when represented by a nonhuman animal who is a member of an endangered species group. Adopting a shared responsibility perspective, this study examined the level of knowledge sport fans possess about their endangered species mascot and how sport fan identity might impact one’s desire to learn more. Findings supported the hypothesis that highly identified fans would want to learn more about the endangered species, thus suggesting that sport organizations may be in an advantageous position to create change through organizational initiatives and practices involving partner organizations and in-house conservation efforts.

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Formation and Function of a Collegiate Athletics Sustainability Committee

McCullough, B. P., Wendling, E., & Kellison, T. (2018)

In this study, we examine the formation of a university-directed CSSP focused on enhancing environmentally sustainable initiatives within the Athletic Department. Interviews with 11 members of a so-called Green Team illustrate the processes of boundary spanning and boundary blurring. As demonstrated in the article, boundary spanning occurred under the leadership of a “champion” that assembled a team of stakeholders to assist with the major renovation of a pro-environmental football stadium. Though the sustainability committee has a common goal, not all experiences of Green Team members have been the same. In light of these differences, we identify key barriers and prescribe solutions that can lead to the realization of a new organizational form.

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Industry-Academic Collaborations to Advance Sustainability

McCullough, B. P., & Trendafilova, S. A. (2018)

The sport and entertainment (S&E) sectors continue their efforts to become more environmentally sustainable. These advancements have made organizations, venues, and events across both sectors more economically profitable, operationally efficient, and even provide opportunities to deepen their connection with customers, patrons, fans, and spectators. In the progression of environmental sustainability, S&E organizations make strides forward through individual or collective efforts, but can also recede or ebb, because of setbacks as S&E organizations learn from the outcomes of their efforts. As their efforts for environmental sustainability become more sophisticated and complex, they progress from the initial wave to subsequent waves.

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Equity-Based Sustainability And Ecocentric Management: Creating More Ecologically Just Sport Organization Practices

McCullough, B. P., & Sartore-Baldwin, M. L.

Recognizing the shared responsibility all entities with a vested interest in keeping the Earth habitable possess, the authors propose ways in which sport organizations can take action by incorporating ecocentric management principles within their organizational practices and thus become more ecologically just.

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