• Decisions, Decisions … Understanding the Brand Associations Attached to U Sports Hockey: A Means-End Analysis of U Sports Hockey Players Who Transferred from The NCAA

      Medeiros, Sean; Applied Health Sciences Program
      The National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) is often considered the pinnacle of colligate sports, drawing athletes from around the world to compete at one of its 1,281 institutions. Of the thousands of athletes imported to the NCAA each year, Canada who themselves bolster comprehensive colligate sport organizations (U Sports), experience the greatest exodus of athletes. While there is still a tremendous number of Canadian athletes heading to the NCAA, statistics have shown that many of these athletes return to Canada after at least one year since the recent adjustments to U Sports policy. As these student athletes begin to return to Canada at a rapidly growing rate, an opportunity to explore their unique brand perceptions has emerged. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to examine the effect of brand associations on student athletes school choice selection as they return to Canada. Brand associations can be characterized as the attributes, benefits and personal values that consumers attach to a product or service to help develop their perception of it. To investigate the current study, 12 interviews were conducted using a laddering interview technique. Findings indicate that there a complex web of six attributes, nine benefits, and five personal values that are the most influential in student athlete school choice selection. Some of these include: location, coach, academics, comfort, relationship, family, achievement, safety and belonging. The intricate relationship that exists amongst these attributes, benefits and personal values is discussed in detail, and recommendations for industry practitioners is suggested.