Title: The dynamics of image repair strategy on sport celebrity scandal: how university students' attitudes are shaped according to scandal type, perceived credibility, and sport involvement

Authors: Geumchan Hwang; Kyu-Soo Chung

Addresses: Department of Human Performance and Health Education, College of Education and Human Development, Western Michigan University, Kalamazoo, MI 49008, USA ' Department of Exercise Science and Sport Management, Kennesaw State University, 1000 Chastain Road, Kennesaw, GA 30144, USA

Abstract: Scandals involving sport celebrities are detrimental to the celebrities' images, as they negatively influence the public's attitudes of those celebrities. This study examines how university students' attitudes regarding a sport celebrity would be shaped differently according to three types of image repair strategies (mortification/denial/combination) and two levels of the celebrity's credibility (high/low). These dynamics are compared between a sex scandal and a doping scandal. Participants are 186 students from a Midwestern university. They answered questions about the perceived effectiveness of the different strategies after being randomly exposed to one of six scenarios in either scandal. Results show that, in repairing a sport celebrity's image tarnished by a sex scandal, the most effective strategy was that of mortification, regardless of the level of credibility attached to the celebrity. In the doping scandal, no significant differences were found. The study suggests a customisation of an image-repairing strategy according to the scandal's situational factors.

Keywords: sport scandal; sport celebrity; image repair strategy; credibility; crisis communication; sport public relations; university students.

DOI: 10.1504/IJSMM.2018.093344

International Journal of Sport Management and Marketing, 2018 Vol.18 No.4, pp.285 - 300

Available online: 25 Jun 2018 *

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