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Episode 020 – University of Kansas Sport Management Professor Dr. Jordan Bass

Posted on Nov 10, 2016 by in Podcast Episode | 0 comments


Dr. Bass and I discuss transformational leadership, Sport Employee Idenfitication (SEI) and key traits in successful young professionals.


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Today we’re going to get a little academic. Our guest is the Associate Chair and Sport Management Program Director and an Assistant Professor in the Health, Sport, and Exercise Sciences department at the University of Kansas, Jordan Bass.

Dr. Bass has published in a number of academic journals, and focuses his research on organizational behavior of athletic programs, athletics place in a higher education setting, and social issues in intercollegiate athletics.
Dr. Bass is an athlete himself and is a former college tennis player, and I’m excited to bring him on the show today.


  1. So how much tennis do you get to play these days?
    1. Serves as faculty mentor for women’s tennis team, so still get to be around it
    2. Talking up college tennis as a spectator sport
      1. You can cheer in the Big XII, so it’s fun to be a fan
      2. Team atmosphere – momentum across courts where all six singles matches are going on at the same time
      3. As a spectator, you get really close to the action
  2. Tell us a bit about how you see the sports management field. There seems to have been an explosion of sports management programs in the last 15 years, and I’m curious:
    1. what is the state of things?
      1. Very eastern and southern program (not much west)
      2. It’s a popular program so expect to see continued growth
      3. More niche programs/sub-disciplines coming online (sales; branding; college v. pro)
    2. Job market? Are we setting up students for failure?
      1. Not any more competitive than any other field
      2. More and more jobs popping up as communities see the value (e.g. minor league sports; parks and rec; etc.)
      3. The broad based program is not the best way to serve the students
      4. Key is not to limit yourself to pro sports or D1 college sports; there are plenty of opportunities
    3. Does it really matter if you get a Sport Management degree v. standard business/MBA?
      1. So much uniqueness about working in sports (ex. your product is created and consumed at the same time)
      2. Passion of the fans different from consumers of standard products
      3. Skills are transferable out of sports too
    4. Housed in business schools, kinesiology, education?
      1. This needs to be figured out
      2. Natural because many of these programs were birthed out of physical education
        1. James Naismith and Phog Allen were the first two directors at KU
      3. Students shouldn’t worry too much about this; just make sure the faculty in the program are working in the areas you’re interested in
  3. What traits to the successful students you have had possess that our audience can learn from?
    1. Be able to talk to anyone; be adaptable; there are a lot of stakeholders
    2. Be able to communicate your skills/experiences to employers
    3. Soft skills are critical
  4. I want to let you teach us a bit out of one of your recent publications. You wrote an article in 2014 titled Conceptualizing employee identification with sport organizations: Sport Employee Identification (SEI) (LINK TO FULL ARTICLE)
    1. First of all give us the broad overview of this paper, and what you were looking at.
      1. Wrote this with Brent Oja and Brian Gordon
      2. Typical organizational behavior wasn’t representative in sport organizations
      3. Debate over whether to include your love/passion for sports in cover letters – strong opinions on each side
      4. Look at how employees identify with their sport employers; specifically middle management (Directors, Assistant Ads, etc.)
    2. You mention three (what you call) antecedents (i.e. factors) that impact sport employee identification, individual, organizational and leadership. Let’s focus on the leadership antecedent.
      1. Individual
        1. How long there;
        2. Fit with organization
        3. Relationships with other employees
        4. General sport interests
      2. Organizational
        1. What about the organization?
        2. Successful? Prestigious? Known?
      3. Leadership
        1. Charisma, intellectual stimulation, etc.
        2. What is transformational leadership, and how can we obtain or exercise it?
          1. Lead through getting everyone to buy in to your vision
          2. Not top-down
          3. We’re all at the same level and I will guide you in a direction
          4. As opposed to transactional leadership (e.g. do this and you get a raise)
          5. Ex. When grad students were on a different floor than the faculty, led to more transactional; then they moved the students into the faculty suite and transformational leadership was the result because they could see the vision and interact more
          6. (Daniel gift to the audience: Text the word STAR to 444999)
        3. What are the four dimensions of transformational leadership and what is their impact on organizations?
          1. Charisma – having the vision and sense of mission you can instill in others; get others to follow you
          2. Inspiration – communicate and instill high expectations in others
          3. Intellectual stimulation – match tasks and projects with what makes people excited
          4. Individual consideration – treat people with respect/care
            1. Easy example: how you sign your emails (salutation v. none)
      4. Talk about Gary and Max’s leadership styles and the impact on their teams.
        1. Two competing leaders:
          1. Gary – transactional; no relationship
          2. Max – transformational; made people feel important
        2. Example
          1. Max worked for Gary. During an evaluation meeting he went to all eight employees and said something they did extra as a way to show he had their back.
      5. What was your ultimate conclusion, and what can we as leaders learn about how to connect our people to the organization, its mission and its values?
        1. Sport employees are attracted to the industry because of the competition involved
        2. This has implications for leaders in the industry; if you know that’s what motivates them, how do we use that information?
        3. Also like the visual/public competition (i.e. Texas instead of Dell)
        4. They like being a “we” when the team wins; feel a part of what’s happening
  5. Where can people go to learn more about you and the sport management programs offered at the University of Kansas?
    1. American Sport Research Center (ASRC) on Facebook:
    3. @JordanRBass on Twitter

Thank Yous/Acknowledgements:

  1. Antioch Live/Clear Day Media Groupmusic
    1. More here.
  2. Jonathan Davis – production
  3. Clint Musslewhite voice over



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