Last Updated on June 17, 2023
Interview with Professor Chris Barnhill
Sports Degrees Online had the chance to interview Dr. Chris Barnhill about a number of topics, including the effects of relationship development in a professional and educational context in the sports industry. We also touch on online Sport Management programs and why students should consider a pursing a sports-related degree and career in Georgia.
About Professor Chris Barnhill
Dr. Chris Barnhill is an Associate Professor of Sport Management at Georgia Southern University. He hold a PhD in Sport Management from The Ohio State University, and his research interests center around relationship development between organizations and employees in the sports industry.
Professor Barnhill, you earned your PhD from The Ohio State University in Sports Management after earning an MBA.
In looking at your academic and research interests, you are very focused on the psychological contracts between teams and their employees. Can you talk a bit about the work you have done related to the psychological contracts between teams and their employees in the sport management field, and why you feel that it is important?
Psychological contracts are one’s belief in the true quality of the relationship they have with another person or organization. They are built, not just on actual communication, but also on the quality of interactions, observation, and perception. Sport is an industry that attracts people in part because of passion. Thus, sports employees form different relationships with their employers. They have greater expectations for how the organization acts toward them and others, and they are highly observant. Thus, when a sport organization falls below its employees’ expectations, it alters their feelings toward their employer.
“Sport is an industry that attracts people in part because of passion. Thus, sports employees form different relationships with their employers. They have greater expectations for how the organization acts toward them and others, and they are highly observant. Thus, when a sport organization falls below its employees’ expectations, it alters their feelings toward their employer.”
It is widely accepted that internships are an important part of any education related to the sports industry. What advice do you have for students before they begin an internship?
It’s naive to think that students looking for internships have low expectations. Students expect their internship site to value them as individuals, as educated sport managers, and as valuable members of the organization, but they also want a learning experience. Both students and employers need to be explicit in setting expectations for the internship experience. As a potential intern, if you have a question, ask. Don’t accept an internship with an organization that falls below your expectations from the start or cannot adequately address your questions. You will be disappointed in your experience. Find organizations that value you as an intern and contributor.
“As a potential intern, if you have a question, ask. Don’t accept an internship with an organization that falls below your expectations from the start or cannot adequately address your questions. You will be disappointed in your experience. Find organizations that value you as an intern and contributor.”
For more about internships, be sure to visit our Guide for Internships in Sports resource
In reviewing your extensive research publications, it seems that communication, clarity of roles, and the importance of achieving high NPS results among employees and participants is extremely important. Are there any lessons related to these things would you like to share with young people who are just starting their journey into the sports industry?
Communication is extremely important and we need to understand that we are always communicating. Our body language, actions, how we treat others all communicate. If you are smiling when tell someone they are doing a great job it means a lot more than if we say it in passing. More importantly, our actions really speak. If we say we value our people, that is great, but if we create opportunities for professional development and mentorship, that also tells a new employee that we value our people. It likely has a greater effect.
At Georgia Southern, you offer an Online MS in Sport Management Program – can you tell us a bit about why prospective students should consider studying an online MS in Sport Management program?
Our MS is really designed for working professionals. Classes are offered in asynchronous formats that allow people to take them around their work/life schedules. Because most of our graduate students are already working in the industry, we do not require an internship for MS students. However, we do notify graduate students of all opportunities and encourage them to take advantage as appropriate.
Please share some of the benefits of studying and launching your professional career in the sports industry in Georgia? How is the sports economy, and what are some of the major employers where your graduates are finding jobs?
Georgia is a rapidly growing state with very diverse offerings in sport. The traditional spectator/team sport offerings can be found in Atlanta and throughout the state, but there are also unique sports cities and opportunities in Augusta, Savannah, Macon, Columbus, and the Golden Isles. Georgia Southern is located near Savannah and a short drive to Jacksonville, Daytona, and the Carolinas.
Visit our Georgia Sport Management Degree Guide for more about programs in Georgia