Have you ever wondered where great leaders get their confidence?

How did they develop the ability to lead in ways that cause others to take notice and follow?

I asked that question years ago as a college student, and as I spent subsequent years in the company of some great leaders, it became clear to me that great leaders actively seek out the knowledge they need in order to lead in the ways they believe will work.

Later, this conclusion led me to understand that leadership involves utilizing that knowledge to find a unique voice, then sharing that voice with others through a commonly held set of core values.

Welcome to a unique voice in the academic discipline and profession of sport management.

Welcome to our core values.

Welcome to JSAS.

How did we arrive here? It’s simple.

Even after a widespread, overwhelmingly positive reception to our inaugural issue in April 2009, we still saw and heard evidence of misunderstandings or disconnects between academic research and the needs of industry practitioners who were charged with solving problems and making decisions at all levels of sport management.

It made us ask why and how that could be, and that answer was simple as well: in many cases, people who don’t conduct research are afraid of it. In fact, in some cases, people who do conduct research are, too!

This became particularly apparent after a conversation with an industry practitioner.

To begin, s/he stated that, as a former university adjunct instructor, s/he simply couldn’t understand why one of the authors of an article in our previous issue didn’t conduct interviews with managers at the sport property upon which the article was based.

Unfortunately, no amount of dialog could convince that person that such practices lean more toward journalism than academic research, which should generally be based on a more scientific approach (not to mention that industry insiders are, as we said, often suspicious—and justly so—of academicians and their research and often not willing to share more than simple, basic information).

Accordingly, academic authors may or may not interview individuals directly during the research process, since the overwhelming majority of information citations in academic research come from established, credible sources published in either academic literature or mainstream media.

Further discussion with that practitioner involved a complete lack of understanding of how/why we had no demographic information on our readership (never mind that, just a few weeks before, we had only published one issue of an open access journal that didn’t require registration on our site!).

For the record, JSAS does NOT require users to register in order to access our information; to do so would contradict our open access policy.

Frustrated frustration of that practitioner was evident in latter stages of the discussion when s/he repeatedly inquired about our “business model,” particularly about how we could function without subscription or advertising revenue.

For the record again, JSAS does not accept advertising to avoid the appearance of undue influence on the integrity of the academic process; to do so would contradict part of our founding principles.

Instead, we rely on grants obtained by the Center for Sport Policy & Research at Middle Tennessee State University and the generous volunteer efforts of our editorial staff and review boards who have vested interests in the journal’s cause on both professional and personal levels.

(While we do offer excerpt reprints of commercially published books, we don’t accept any advertising from the publishers or authors, nor do we sell books or any related items that appear here. We’re also most grateful for the authors and commercial publishers who share our vision and have generously consented to allow us to reprint their materials, and we want to assure you that the aforementioned conversation was not conducted with any of them!)

An even scarier notion is that we allow our authors to retain the exclusive rights to their works.

We simply think that’s the right thing to do because, after all, they wrote them!

After deliberation among ourselves, we concluded that, in all likelihood, much like it confused some practitioners, the unique nature of JSAS also confused some academicians.

Please clearly understand: we are an academic research journal, NOT a magazine, newspaper, or trade journal.

The articles found in this publication are grounded in scientific investigative methodology of some kind, and our job is not only to publish those findings but to also provide added value to industry by delivering management whitepapers that condense and simplify the findings of those research articles so that industry practitioners can use them.

Why? Because we asked industry leaders what they needed, and here’s what they said: a way to help them acquire information that will allow them to do their jobs better!

They know and we know that information is critical in the management process, and no one in sport business or any other industry can manage or lead well without valuable, relevant information.

With these things considered, another question clearly emerges: if subscriber data, subscription revenues, and advertisement revenues, aren’t benchmarks of success for JSAS like they are for other publications, how does this journal define concepts of success and quality?

Success for JSAS involves removing fear from research in order to help sport managers do their jobs better.

Quality for JSAS is focused on the caliber of useful, reliable information contained in its articles.

JSAS articles have been both academically and professionally judged by reviewers with benevolent outlooks yet lofty standards of quality, so the articles we publish can be considered to be both theoretically and professionally solid.

As with any form of change, some within the academic and industry establishments will persist with resistance as we continue to field questions about our readership demographics, research format, etc.

In the final analysis, we are not worried so much about who our readers are, but more focused on what is available to them to read in JSAS.

We did not embark to create another publication outlet strictly for an academic audience.

Instead, we wanted to connect those academicians who have a desire to continually learn and improve with practitioners in the sport industry who value the same things.

That’s the set of values upon which we seek to lead.

We began with that core concept, and it still holds true today.

We are not building a membership database.

We are building a tribe of continuous learners and people who want to improve the academic discipline and industry of sport.

Welcome to JSAS—a tribe for sport management academics and professionals.

Colby B. Jubenville is a Professor at Middle Tennessee State University. He can be reached by e-mail at cjubenville@jsasonline.org.