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Crafting a legacy: investigating the retired athlete brand image

Olzhas Taniyev (Department of Health and Human Performance, Roanoke College, Salem, Virginia, USA)
Brian S. Gordon (Department of Health, Sport, and Exercise Sciences, University of Kansas, Lawrence, Kansas, USA)

International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship

ISSN: 1464-6668

Article publication date: 10 July 2019




The purpose of this paper exploratory study is to decipher sport consumer associations and sentiments connected to the brand image of retired athletes.


In total, 14 sport consumers, who demonstrated an in-depth knowledge of throwback branding tactics and expertise in athlete brand promotion, participated in in-depth semi-structured interviews.


The findings indicate there are three prevalent themes across the present data (i.e. epoch epitome, athlete-team connection and off-the-field persona).


While the proliferation of throwback merchandise and affinity for brands of retired athletes is evident, the internalization of associations related to retired athletes has escaped empirical investigation. Numerous questions concerning how specific facets of a retired athlete’s image (e.g. athletic skills or life off the field) activate nostalgic feelings, drive consumer loyalty and establish market permanence remain unanswered. The current study contributes to the understanding of the brand image of the retired athlete and the existing literature concerning athlete branding.



Taniyev, O. and Gordon, B.S. (2019), "Crafting a legacy: investigating the retired athlete brand image", International Journal of Sports Marketing and Sponsorship, Vol. 20 No. 3, pp. 390-406.



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