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Football (soccer?) on campus. Examining the historical development and promotion of the world’s most popular sport through transatlantic university comparisons.

Isaacson, T. and Theofilou, A., 2024. Football (soccer?) on campus. Examining the historical development and promotion of the world’s most popular sport through transatlantic university comparisons. Corporate Communications, 29 (1), 52-67.

Full text available as:

CCIJ Submission - Football Paper.pdf - Accepted Version
Available under License Creative Commons Attribution Non-commercial.


DOI: 10.1108/CCIJ-01-2023-0013


Purpose: Football is the world's most popular sport and the role of football on campus is of interest to university public relations (PR) and management professionals tasked with operations, promotions and reputation management. The purpose of the study is to explore similarities and differences in the structure and promotion of football on campus in the USA and the UK. Design/methodology/approach: The authors completed this case study research by focusing on two related cases using cross-case pattern identification. Consistent with case study research, data collection methods were combined. Depth interviews with PR and management professionals at USA and UK universities were supported by archived documents, published media and social media accounts. Findings: Football maintains a high level of popularity among students on campus, but each country's approach reveals different models and competitive market forces. In the USA, varsity football faces competition from popular revenue-producing sports (e.g. American football and men's basketball), but growth in the overall game, which is assisted by international influences, indicates future advancement opportunities. In the UK, football is the dominant campus sport with unique ties to professional football and high growth potential for the women's game. The lack of a fan-based model indicates the possibility for structural change, but stiff competition exists with the historically popular and well-developed professional game. Research limitations/implications: A well-known limitation of case study research is the absence of generalizability, and each case has aspects that are unique to the research (Lucas et al., 2018). That applies in this instance as well. Variance is expected to exist between, and among universities and, based on this data, this is not possible to generalize to other universities. However, future survey research could use these results to help with the development of research questions using quantitative methods. Originality/value: Sports PR research using the case model with professional teams has been conducted, but the authors found no published PR research comparing the structure and promotion of football at USA and UK universities. The outcomes can help with future research inquiries and theory development and are instructive for professionals working in the field.

Item Type:Article
Uncontrolled Keywords:Universities; History; Promotion; Sport; Public relations
Group:Faculty of Media & Communication
ID Code:39625
Deposited By: Symplectic RT2
Deposited On:20 Mar 2024 07:38
Last Modified:20 Mar 2024 07:38


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