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Submit a Manuscript to the Journal
Managing Sport and Leisure

For a Special Issue on
Using Technological Innovation to Manage and Develop Amateur Sport Officials in a Post-Pandemic World

Manuscript deadline
01 March 2022

Cover image - Managing Sport and Leisure

Special Issue Editor(s)

Lori A. Livingston, Ontario Tech Univiersity
[email protected]

Ian Cunningham, Edinburgh Napier University
[email protected]

Susan L. Forbes, Ontario Tech University
[email protected]

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Using Technological Innovation to Manage and Develop Amateur Sport Officials in a Post-Pandemic World

Amateur sport officials are essential to the regulation and feasibility of sport, yet the challenges associated with their recruitment, development, and retention remains a well-documented sport management problem (Livingston & Forbes, 2016).  This places constant stress on sport systems and organizations with that level of stress likely to be exacerbated in the short term by imposed suspension of sport during the COVID-19 pandemic.  The development of officials, including talent identification, skill acquisition, and advancement processes have either been put on hold, significantly slowed, or necessarily transitioned to virtual modes of delivery over the past 16 months.  In Canada, where amateur sport organizations rely on player, coach and official registration fees to fund their operations, the loss of revenues have led to significant staff layoffs and the suspension of playing competitions and development programs.  The long-term effects of the pandemic on amateur sport are at this point unknown.  However, the disruption caused by this global health crisis has provoked new ways of thinking about all aspects of sport including officiating development (Webb, 2021).

Prior to the pandemic, sport governing bodies were already searching for ways to attract, support, and retain their officials.  This included developing individual- and sport-specific training approaches and deliberate practice programs to help officials’ better deal with the technical, physical, and mental workloads of their performance environments.  To some extent, organizations were also recognizing the need to create more supportive organizational cultures – ones in which amateur sport officials are valued and supported on par with their playing, coaching, and management counterparts (Livingston, Forbes, Pearson, Camacho, Wattie, & Varian, 2017).  The value of the latter cannot be underestimated as it has been argued that the dynamic interaction between individual, sport (or task), and environmental (or organizational) factors will determine whether an individual enters into, stays, or leaves the role of sport official (Livingston, Forbes, Wattie, & Cunningham, 2020).

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated the use of technology in all aspects of our lives.  This disruption created significant challenges, but also prompted organizations of all types and sizes to reimagine their operations and ways of doing business using digital platforms.  Sport organizations have adapted and, like all others, must continue to adapt as the ongoing effects of the pandemic will be with us for some time to come.

One year into the pandemic, a discussion with those responsible for developing a long-term officiating development (LTOD) program within a large provincial sport organization in Ontario, Canada yielded some interesting insights.  All games and competitions had been suspended and there was no return to competition date in sight.  Their face-to-face LTOD programming, which included “upskilling” and “reskilling” instructors as well as those responsible for supporting and administering the programs themselves, had all but ground to a halt.  They necessarily shifted what few programs they could offer to virtual online or teleconferencing environments with only a few opportunities to bring officials together to practice skills in physically distanced environments.  It was not at all what they had envisioned for their LTOD programs, but the shift yielded some unexpected positive results.  Technology was breaking down longstanding geographical and cost barriers, allowing greater numbers of individuals to participate in governance, planning, and training activities.  Participants could also choose to participate in real time (i.e., synchronously) or when it better fit their work and or family schedules (i.e., asynchronously). Moreover, the insights of experts were reaching participants in small, rural, and remote parts of the province.  Individually tailored one-on-one mentorship programs also flourished and expanded, with creative efforts leading to the development of communities of common interest and practice.  New social communities also emerged and, although anecdotal in nature, the use of hybrid or blended approaches (i.e., combination of face-to-face and virtual learning platforms) created opportunities to reimagine training and deliberate practice programs.

Coming out of the pandemic, sport managers who oversee the coordination, training, and inclusion (or integration) of amateur sport officials have a tremendous opportunity to imagine new ways to recruit, retain, develop, and advance officials’ performance and participation within their organizations.  At the heart of this transformation is the concept of innovation (i.e., new and distinct programs, services, or business practices) (Snelgrove & Wood, 2021) supported by technology. By adopting an innovative mindset, in combination with technology, sport organizations have a tremendous opportunity to re-think how they approach all aspects of their operations.  This includes addressing the recruitment, development, retention, and advancement needs of their amateur sport officials.

This special issue aims to showcase from an international perspective forward thinking innovative practices and diverse organizational perspectives on managing their officiating needs with the use of technology.  This will emphasize sport official education (e.g., learning platforms, pedagogies) and coordination and management (e.g., broadening communication and audiences; breaking down geographical barriers, etc.).

Submission Instructions

Contributors are invited to submit articles which focus on or highlight the use and value of technology in supporting the coordination, training, and inclusion (or integration) of amateur sport officials within sport organizations. This may include:

  • case studies
  • empirically-based studies
  • futuristic visionary essays

Particular consideration will be given to articles that illustrate robust linkages between researchers and sporting associations and advancement of technology innovation in the support of evolving organizational needs and strategy. Contributors are asked to position their work within an ecological perspective, namely a constraints-based theoretical model (Newell, 1986). This would require articles to address how individual differences (e.g., age, knowledge, experience), task differences (e.g., sport-specificity, perceptual and movement demands, role), and environmental (e.g., organizational structure, supports, or resources) may either support or limit the use of technology to further the officiating management efforts of organizations.

Submitted articles should be between 6000-8000 words in length (including abstract and references).

Key dates:

  • Submission deadline: March 1/2022
  • Decisions on selected articles: May 1/2022
  • Re-submission deadline for selected articles: June 15/2022
  • Final decision: July 31/2022
  • Publication of special issue: January 2023.

Instructions for AuthorsSubmit an Article