Moral Judgements of Junior Sports Sponsorships: An Emerging Mediator of Sponsor Goodwill
The sponsorship of junior sport is a contentious issue with community concerns raised about the appropriateness of some marketing targetted at children. Parents and coaches are guardians of junior sports players and often faced with a moral dilemma. On the one hand they know sponsors, who are trying to generate goodwill through providing financial or in-kind support, are crucial to the affordability of junior sports when competition for securing sponsorships is intense. On the other hand, they hold concerns that some sponsors may exploit their access to these young, vulnerable players. Guardians are caught at a crossroads with equally undesirable alternatives—financially unviable junior sports without sponsors or junior sports with potentially exploitative sponsors. Our study fills a gap in the literature where the tensions of commercial sponsorship agendas and moral concerns in sponsorship has not been well explored with our study being the first to apply the construct of moral judgements in a sponsorship model. Mixed methodology is used to examine the role that moral judgements play in determining sponsor goodwill. A qualitative study (n = 18) informed an online survey (n = 306) of Australian junior sports guardians. Structural equation modelling revealed that guardians’ moral judgements mediated the relationships between sponsor fit, perceived sponsor altruism and the outcome variable, sponsorship goodwill. The findings of this study extend scholarly understanding of consumers’ appraisal of sponsorships and provide useful insights to guide practitioners in sponsorship decision making, particularly in contexts that stimulate community interest or concerns.