Jun 4 • 2 min read

School of Tourism and Hospitality Management Associate Professor Joel G. Maxcy and University of Oklahoma Department of Health and Exercise Science Lecturer Daniel J. Larson recently published an article titled “The industrial organization of sport coaches: Road cycling as a distinguished case” in the Journal of Sport Management.

The September 2013 paper presents a theoretical model of the organization of the sport coaching industry. It is the first study to show in formal mathematical expressions how coaches are appropriated into the employment settings of sports teams. The model, based on a variety of considered sport characteristics, predicts whether the individual athlete or the sport organization will be the direct employer of coaches. The example of professional cycling coaches is presented at length and offers empirical evidence that is consistent with the model’s predictions. Other sports settings are discussed within the paper as well.

“This work stemmed from my simple observation of the cycling coaching market, where commercially well developed teams hired almost no ‘team’ coaches, and instead the cyclists hired their coaches independently,” Larson said. “When I examined this further, it became clear that there was very little research on the overall industrial organization of coaches, let alone a theory to explain these interesting outcomes.”

Maxcy, who served as Larson’s PhD advisor at the University of Georgia, was eager to lend his expertise to this project. According to Maxcy, who has made numerous contributions in this area, the literature on industrial organization of team-sport leagues and player labor markets is quite well developed in sports economics. Nonetheless, the coaching industry, a significant part of sports, had not been modeled.

“Dan’s experience as a cycling athlete and coach provided a significant intuitive dimension that greatly helped facilitate the formal modeling process,” Maxcy said.

Larson also explained that this research could lead to improved models of the coaching industry as well as empirical tests of the theory. He said that it could be a particularly useful start for examining consulting and external training services in broader industrial settings where coached employees also work within teams.

Maxcy said that a critical contribution of this work is separating the coaches’ roles into trainer and strategist components. “In most sports, one role or the other dominates the coach’s task list, and the integration of the two roles goes a long way in the determination of the employment relationship,” he said.

Larson’s research background is largely comprised of the study of economics and marketing of competitive cycling. These endeavors were preceded by substantial work experience in cycling coaching and international professional cycling team management.

Maxcy has an extensive research background in sport labor relations and industrial organization. His related past publications include articles that have examined issues such as free agency, contract length, and compensation in professional sport.

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