image title

NFL owner encourages athletes to use platform for social change

ASU helps sponsor Race and Sports Town Hall discussion.
Panelists discuss importance of athletes as agents of social change.
November 14, 2016

At ASU town hall discussion on race and sports, Stephen M. Ross says such activism can have impact across nation

The principal owner for the Miami Dolphins said today’s athletes are starting to recognize their power as change agents for social good and that they should take advantage of their platform to shine a light on injustice whenever possible. 

“This isn’t about publicity, but doing something that can have impact in this country,” Stephen M. Ross said. “Athletes recognize the importance of their role in society, and so let’s take advantage of that.”

Ross’ comment was made at a town hall discussion on race and sports hosted by ASU Athletic Director Ray Anderson at the Mesa Arts Center on Monday.

ASU’s Center for the Study of Race and DemocracyThe center is housed in the College of Integrative Sciences and Arts. and the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality sponsored the event, which drew about 200 people. The goal of the town hall and subsequent panel discussion was to bring together students, sports figures, academics and community leaders to have a dialogue about racism through the lens of sports and encourage critical thinking and positive change.

“This discussion gives us a framework for understanding the history between race and sports, what’s happening in our communities across the nation and the link between athletes and protest,” said Sarah E. Herrera, the center’s program director.  

From San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s refusal to stand for the national anthem as a protest to police shootings of unarmed black men to Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton pushing for the Confederate flag to be lowered at the South Carolina State House to the Miami Heat donning hooded sweatshirts to recognize the shooting of teen Trayvon Martin, professional athletes are using their platform to protest what they see as civil and racial inequality.

“I am probably in the minority when it comes to NFL owners encouraging players to express these feelings and speak out,” Ross said. “This country needs it.”

Growing up in Detroit, Ross said he witnessed firsthand the negative impacts of racism and that he hopes to use his initiative to bring the sports community together to advance equality, respect and understanding.

The panel also included Ann Meyers Drysdale, vice president of the Phoenix Suns and Mercury; Mia Rycraw, a goalie for the ASU women’s water polo team; Eddie Johnson, former NBA standout and color analyst; Kenneth Shropshire, director of the Wharton Sports Business Initiative; and Michael Young, Glendale fire captain and Millennium High School football coach.

Speakers said the conversation was reminiscent of a bygone era when sports figures such as Jackie Robinson, Muhammad Ali, Jim Brown, Bill Russell and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar openly discussed racism, the anti-war movement and political and social change in the U.S.

After decades of aversion to protest, they believe professional athletes are starting to rediscover their voices as activists and role models.

“It makes me happy when parents say, ‘I admire you as a role model,’” Rycraw said. “It reminds me that I’m a role model for people who are younger and older, and I take that seriously.”

Race and Sports Town Hall

Kenneth Shrophsire (second from left) talks during a panel discussion with (from left) Ann Meyers Drysdale, Michael Young, ASU water polo goalie Mia Rycraw and Eddie Johnson at the Race and Sports Town Hall on Monday. Shropshire, who is on the faculty of the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, talked about the lynching threats the black freshmen at the school received last week. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Shropshire said sports is the closest thing the U.S. has to a national language and that he has formed lasting friendships as a result of his time playing football at Stanford. 

“Some of my best friends in life are white guys I played with in college,” Shropshire said. “That’s the magic of sports as the vehicle to discuss diversity.”

Young said that diversity can be woven into the fabric of sports and that coaches have a new responsibility to young athletes.

“When I was growing up, it used to be about if you could play ball, but that’s now at the back of the list,” Young said. “I feel my role as a coach is to teach about character and fairness.”

The panel agreed that educating young athletes about race, justice and democracy is only part of the cure — the other half of the equation is educating adults.

“The biggest problem I’ve always had is with adults, not kids,” Johnson said. “I concentrate on them (adults) to see how they’re teaching, what they’re teaching and if they’re fair.

“And if they’re not fair, I call them out on it.”

Top photo: ASU Athletic Director Ray Anderson (right) talks with Miami Dolphins owner and founder of the Ross Initiative in Sports for Equality, Stephen M. Ross, at the Race and Sports Town Hall at the Mesa Arts Center on Monday. Ross said athletes should use their platforms to push for social change. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now 

Reporter , ASU News


image title

ASU team researches why shoppers become Black Friday brawlers

Why does 'Shop now! Limited quantities!' make you want to throw a punch?
November 15, 2016

'Limited-quantity' ads play a role in consumer aggression, marketing team finds

The Black Friday shopping extravaganza is approaching, and every year there are media reports of people brawling in stores while trying to get great deals, sometimes with injuries, arrests and even fatalities.

Why do people fight over things like big-screen TVs?

Advertising might play a role, according to a new study by two professors at Arizona State University, who found that just looking at a certain type of ad can provoke aggression.

The team of researchers were intrigued by the phenomenon of people throwing punches in order to buy deeply discounted items on the day after Thanksgiving and wanted to know what sparked that aggression over luxury items.

“The evolutionary psychology literature has established that with the last loaf of bread, yes, you’ll take someone down for survival,” said Kirk Kristofferson, an assistant professor of marketing at the W. P. Carey School of Business, one of the researchers.

“But we’re in a resource-rich environment and we’re finding this with 60-inch plasma TVs,” said Kristofferson, who worked with Andrea Morales, a professor of marketing in the W. P. Carey School of Business who holds the Lonnie L. Ostrom Chair in Business, as well as Brent McFerran, associate professor of marketing at Simon Fraser University, Vancouver, and Darren W. Dahl, a professor at the University of British Columbia.

The team wanted to know whether “scarcity promotions” — ads for deeply discounted items of very limited quantities — incited people toward aggression.

“Of course there are people who elbow in line. But is it possible that simply being exposed to these sorts of promotional ads is enough to start the chain reaction to induce aggressive behavior? Maybe it starts beforehand, not when you get in line,” Kristofferson said.

A research team with two professors from the W. P. Carey School of Business at ASU found that simply looking at an ad for a limited-quantity discounted item could induce aggression.

The team ran seven studies with more than 1,100 subjects and proved that simply being exposed to a “scarcity ad” was enough to incite aggressive behavior. Their paper, “The Dark Side of Scarcity Promotions: How Exposure to Limited-Quantity Promotions Can Induce Aggression,” was just published in the Journal of Consumer Research.

“One of the really cool parts of this paper is how we tested it. In a controlled-lab setting, it’s really hard to get people to behave aggressively,” Kristofferson said. “If they’re put in a situation to behave negatively, they resist. So we had to think of unique ways to observe the behavior and to measure it.”

Some of the studies were done at the University of British Columbia and some at ASU, in the marketing lab at the W. P. Carey School of Business.

“That’s one of the things I love most about our job — we get to think about an interesting question and then find a creative and compelling way to test it,” Morales said.

In one study, subjects were shown one of two ads for iPhones on sale for $50. One ad promoted that only three phones were available, and the other did not limit quantities. Then the subjects, believing they were moving on to a separate study, were asked to evaluate a video game in which they “shot” at targets. A software program measured the shots taken and found that the subjects who saw the limited-quantity ad were more aggressive, shooting more often — and less accurately — than the people who saw the other ad.

Kristofferson especially liked the “vending machine study.” Subjects were shown one of the same ads and then, again believing they were in a different study, told to buy a candy bar from a vending machine.

“But we rigged the machine to jam. And we covertly set up a video camera, and we recorded and measured how they behaved,” he said.

Students studied the video of each subject at the vending machine and rated the aggressive reactions from 1 (pushing the buttons harder) to 5 (shoving and kicking the machine).

“And we found that in the limited-quantity promotional condition, they were much more aggressive. They hit the machine more, and the level of assault was higher,” he said.

Building off those two studies, the team wanted to see whether there was a physiological reaction to seeing the limited-quantity ads. So they ran a “spit study.” They took baseline samples of saliva from 150 people, then showed them the same iPhone ads, took saliva samples again and then tested the samples at the InstituteThat unit has since relocated to another university. for Interdisciplinary Salivary Bioscience Research at ASU.

Those who saw the scarcity ad had higher testosterone levels in their samples.

“Some say higher testosterone levels lead to aggression and some say it doesn’t, but it’s a pointer. There’s a lot of work that says it’s a predictor of behaving aggressively,” Kristofferson said.

Other studies had subjects play a Wii boxing game or choose a violent or non-violent video game, and both showed increased aggressive tendencies after exposure to the limited-quantity ad.

The team also tested store-brandThe team picked those stores based on the number of reported violent incidents on the website. associations, theorizing that consumers perceive the threat from other shoppers differently depending on the store. People who saw a low-quantity ad for a luxury watch at Walmart scored higher on aggression than those who saw the same ad for a watch at Nordstrom.

Aggression spiked when people saw ads that limited quantity, but not time — such as a “one-day-only” sale.

“We see the aggression in the quantity ad because if you get there before me, I don’t get it. The consumers are pitted against each other. But if it’s a limited-time ad, you can get there at 9:01 and I can get there at 4:59 and I still get it. We’ve removed the threat.”

Kristofferson, whose next project will examine the use of virtual reality in marketing, said the scarcity-ad paper can inform both retailers and consumers.

“Retailers could be more cautious in how they use these promotions, because it doesn’t do them any favors to have these assaults going viral.

“But consumers should understand that psychologically, these effects can happen and you should control your own behavior.”

Top photo: Andrea Morales, a professor of marketing, and Kirk Kristofferson, an assistant professor of marketing, were on the team that found that even looking at a limited-quantity ad could induce aggressive behavior. Photo by Charlie Leight/ASU Now

Mary Beth Faller

Reporter , ASU News