Master of Mass Communication (MMC)


Mass Communication

Document Type



The sports industry is big business just like any other big business. Sports organizations face various crises just as corporate America does. A survey of 345 professional and college level sports organizations revealed that 70% of them experienced a crisis in 1997, while the Los Angeles Times reported that 220 college athletes were the focus of criminal charges in 1995. "Sports crises are clearly more frequent today than ever before," said Kathleen Hessert. Mike Paul agrees with that trend based on his research, attributing the trend to poor life choices away from the sport. What is a crisis? A crisis is a situation that disrupts normal business operations, and has an uncertain and a potentially negative outcome. What are some crises within the sports industry? Crises can range from criminal charges, labor disputes, arena/stadium issues, politically incorrect statements or actions, accidental deaths and workplace violence. This thesis will examine how nine public relations practitioners in the sports industry handle crises, and compare the findings to the Gonzalez-Herrero and Pratt crisis management model. The nine sports organizations interviewed will gain insight into their practices concerning crises, thus, giving them the opportunity to improve communications with their publics whereby mutually valuable relationships can be formed. The findings of this thesis seem to support certain aspects of the crisis management model, however, none of the organizations follow the model exactly. The inability of all of these organizations to implement more proactive public relations or to conduct formal research causes these organizations to operate in a reactionary mode. The findings of this thesis point out the areas in which these sports organizations indeed do follow the Gonzalez-Herrero and Pratt crisis management model, and points out the areas in which these organizations' performance is lacking. The areas tended to be planning and research. Although these findings cannot be generalized to all sports organizations, those organizations can use these findings as an educational tool in which to enhance their own operations.



Document Availability at the Time of Submission

Release the entire work immediately for access worldwide.

Committee Chair

Lori Boyer