Organizing and conducting sporting events online : a study of the 2011 CrossFit Games
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Subjectsociocultural theory; interpretive theory; online communities; sport; Internet; organizational culture
In a world where everything from dating to shopping to conducting business can be performed online, competitive sport has remained an activity in which its online component is mostly relegated to news, chat or fan forums, or fantasy-league interactions. The physicality of competitive sports does not lend itself to an online format—until now. CrossFit (CF) is one of the fastest growing new fitness programs in the world, and is based largely on online communities and networks. In 2011, CrossFit Incorporated (CF Inc.), the creator of this worldwide fitness network, conducted the world’s largest online CF sporting competition, where individuals recorded their performances online for public consumption, interaction and judging. Over 25,000 individuals and teams from around the world participated in 2011 which relies heavily on participation and feedback, trust, social media and networking for its success. By uncovering the essential components of the unique operating community of CF through analysis of quantitative data, in-depth qualitative interviews, and textual analysis, this paper suggests a model for producing a successful global sporting event online and discusses whether it may be applied to other athletic organizations to increase their worldwide exposure and increase members access to global opportunities. Findings determined a mix of criteria including attracting and retaining like-minded individuals through a strong focus on cohesion, inclusion, and competition; strong local autonomy and control; and a willingness on the part of members to promote the sport for the perceived wellbeing of others as necessary to a strong, effective online component in facilitating global competition online.
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