Third-party representation in sport: What do Special Olympics' members think of their corporate sponsorships?


There are many examples that the relationships between corporations and non-profit sports agencies can be challenging (Bourdieu et al., 1998). Despite negative associations with sport, sport organizations promote the potential for positive outcomes beyond sport skills to potential participants, partners, and funders. Previous research has associated sport with numerous negative social outcomes including ableism or experience the (re)presentation of their sporting ability or determination as being superhuman, to the point of being labelled as 'supercrips.' Thus, with the draw of sport in society, its stereotyped benefits,and the opportunity to establish oneself as a good corporate citizen, sport organizations, such as Special Olympics Canada, become attractive to corporate sponsors from a marketing perspective. However, research focuses on the strategic partnership,marketing, and business perspectives of such sponsorships without asking the members of the sport organization how they feel about that representation. Thus, this study explores the perspectives of Special Olympics athletes, their families, and coaches towards the sponsors of Special Olympics Canada. By asking their perspectives, the research team's goal is to provide strategies and policy recommendations for selecting, maintaining, and the day-to-day functioning of Special Olympics Canada's sponsorship activities.

Acknowledgments: Mr Pascuzzi and Ms Rheault were supported through Canada Summer Jobs positions at Special Olympics Ontario.