Sports Podcasting: Best Practices Among the Best Programs

Authors: Michelle Pulaski Behling; Kate Fink, Paul Ziek

Abstract: Although there is a large area of scholarly literature that deals with the intersection of sport and communication, there is a dearth of inquiry on sports podcasting. This is surprising given that at least a quarter of the fans for all the major sports in the US are listening to podcasts once a week (Winn, 2021). Among the many consequences of this hole in the literature is that very little is known about best practices. The current study will fill this gap by using content analysis to investigate the themes that are consistent among the top 10 sports podcasts in the US. Two researchers coded 41 hours of sports podcasting looking at a variety codes relative to format, production value, interviewing techniques and topical content. Intercoder reliability was calculated at a variety of points and ranged from 71.8% to 96.4%, well above the minimum requirement for validity (ie Riffe, Lacy & Fico, 1998). The findings show that there are three sub-genres of sports podcasting; all of which are expertly produced and hosted. The implications of the current study are more practical than theoretical. Understanding what makes a sports podcast successful can be used to help students since most of the knowledge gained in this area occurs through experiential learning (Pederson, Laucella, Geurin & Kian, 2020). Understanding of best practices can serve as a foundation for socialization and assimilation into the podcast industry. This is not to say the study is advocating for students to metamorphosize into a clone or mimic of one of the top sports podcasters. Indeed, the study argues quite the opposite, awareness of what works and what does not is beneficial as students begin to individualize podcasts to suit personal needs and desires.

Presented at the International Association for Communication and Sport Summit by Dr. Paul Ziek  on May 5, 2022.

Research Note: Avenues for Research in Sports Media and Broadcasting

Authors: Michelle Pulaski Behling; Kate Fink, Paul Ziek

Presented at the 26th annual New Jersey Communication Association Conference on 2/26/22 by Dr. Michelle Pulaski Behling

In July, the Board of Regents at the University of Texas and the University of Oklahoma both unanimously voted to move from the Big 12 to the SEC Conference. Although the move is not official until 2025, the reverberations can be seen now. Statements from both universities centered around the changing landscape of college athletics and the positive impact for both athletic programs. What was left out of the statements was the enormous financial allure of the SEC in general and playing with Alabama, LSU and Georgia. According to Dimmitt (2021), the SEC recently struck a new deal with ESPN where in 2024 the conference will net $300 million annually. The movement of schools from conferences has been going on for decades, but the recent activity surrounding Texas and Oklahoma underscores the importance of sports broadcasting and media. The prospect of new rivalries and grander conference championships would not be possible without the exposure from television, radio and social media. Of all the changes to both collegiate and professional sports, the introduction and partnership with media has been the most significant driving. Moreover, even though academic research has keep suit and grown with these changes more needs to be done, specifically, there are three areas that require additional attention.

New Media

In 1998, Wenner coined the term “MediaSport” to describe the way in which the two areas have become inextricably linked. Wenner’s work was on the cusp of the World Wide Web and since then the proliferation of media due to convergence has continued to produce permutations. The institutionalization of media and sport is not just experienced through fandom but also participation. As Rowe (2013) contends, mediated sport is carried into every cultural domain and anyone who wishes to engage must do so through the saturated virtual world. When Wenner described MediaSport, the idea that a football player could live-stream a coach’s post game speech from a phone or that a prop bet could be placed instantaneously on the Gatorade dump was not a consideration. Although recent studies have rightfully focused on the most popular areas of MediaSport such as the role of Twitter, regional sports networks, podcasts and liveblogging, there is a new generation ready to emerge and in need of attention. Conversational AI, Augmented Reality or Always-on Connectivity are just a few of the new media that will certainly change the trajectory MediaSport. Indeed, given that many already perceive sporting events as pseudo-events (i.e., Boorstin, 1972), it should not be farfetched to imagine a world where someone from New Jersey can sit in Section 302, Row Y, Seat 6 of Lumen Field and enjoy a Seattle Sounders game. To that end, research should not be centered on “if this will happen” but the ramifications of “when it will happen” and “how it will happen.”


The recent landmark decision to adjust the Name, Image and Likeness (NIL) Policies for student athletes is another step in the vast changes to sport branding and endorsement. According to Brooks (2021), it did not take long for student athletes to sign deals with Boost Mobile, 1-800-Got-Junk and Mission BBQ, to name a few. With all of the benefits that come from new NIL policies, there is an unintended consequence related to these new endorsement avenues –student athletes must successfully manage media at a younger age. In other words, athletes must begin to consider brand identity and employ methods of building mutually beneficial relationships with stakeholders at earlier ages than ever before. Given the amount of information available on athletes, the public is quick to determine reputation and feedback messages of acceptance or rejection (Whetten & Mackey, 2002). What this means is that young athletes must consider their visibility in both their primary arenas, ie baseball, soccer, football, etc, but also the extra-textual dimensions such as interviews, social media and television, to name a few. Never has there been such a wide swath of young athletes having to contend with the way that they are perceived in and through media. As a result, research needs to focus on how athletes begin to create and maintain image so that they can take advantage of the branding opportunities that have and will continue to open-up in the near future.

Social Responsibility

Professional sport organizations and individual athletes are influential and can both positively and negatively shape the public discourse around responsible norms of behavior (Walzel, Robertson & Anagnostopoulos, 2018). The positive has been felt far and wide in the past several years as athletes did more than “shut up and dribble” but got directly involved in social and environmental movements. Given the enhanced communicative platform that organizations and individuals have as they rely on media to send mass messages, prosocial behavior and actions can be distributed and received on a widescale (Ziek, 2013). The consequence is that never before have there been so many organizations and athletes pointed in the same direction and working to solve systemic social and environmental issues. Yet, research in this area is still scant. This is not to say that there is no research on the role of social responsibility in sport (see Valeri, 2019) but certainly more can be done. Research has not delved deep enough into the psychological connections that fans make with organizations and athletes that equate to meaningful social dialogue (Nyadzayo, Leckie & McDonald, 2016). In other words, investigations should look more toward the types of programs and initiatives employed, including their antecedents, that have spurred meaningful transformation (Cortsen, 2014).

The dynamics of sport as it is centralized around media and mediated communication has been the epicenter of a vast number of academic studies. In fact, over the past 30 years, the volume, scope and accomplishments of research on communication and sport has exploded. Not only have there been theoretical exanimations of the rhetoric relative to constructs but there have been examinations of the particular areas where the two converge. Studies have done well to reflect on the importance of events to content and programming as well as the ongoing challenges and changes in the media industries (Bellamy, 2006). However, there is no doubt that the intersection of media and sports still has areas where research is required and desired – academics can do well to help foreground some of the hidden aspects and areas which can provide both practical and theoretical benefits.


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Cortsen, K. (2014). Capitalising on CSR-based partnerships in sports branding and sports sponsorship. International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing15(1-2), 75-97.

Dimmitt, J. (2021). UT Board Of Regents Unanimously Approves Texas’ Move To SEC. The Wall Street Journal. Retrieved from

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Whetten, D. A., & Mackey, A. (2002). A social actor conception of organizational identity and its implications for the study of organizational reputation. Business & society41(4), 393-414.

Ziek, P. (2013). The CSR Save in Sports, Ethics, and Masculine Heteronomativity. Paper presented at the 24th Annual Conference of the Mid-Atlantic Popular & American Culture Association, Atlantic City, NJ.