Auditorium Annex A 156F
1924 West Mall
Vancouver, V6T 1Z2
Wesleyan University, 1968, B.A.
University of Massachusetts, 1978, M.S.
University of Massachusetts, 1981, Ph.D.

Research Interests


mass communication
consumer culture and public health


Dr. Sparks’ research interests encompass the processes of social communication in advertising and the mass media, theories and methods in audience research and reception analysis, and the political economy of tobacco and alcohol control.


Pantani, D., Sparks, R., Sanchez, Z. M. & Pinsky, A. (2012) ‘Responsible drinking’ programs and the alcohol industry in Brazil: Killing two birds with one stone?, Social Science and Medicine, 75, 1387-1391.

Dewhirst, T. & Sparks, R. (2011), Brand mismanagement: Rothmans cigarette marketing, 1957-2000, Journal of Historical Research in Marketing, 3 (3), 351-369.

Jette, S., Sparks, R., Pinsky, I., Castaneda, L. & Haines, R. (2009). Youth, sports and the culture of beer drinking: Global alcohol sponsorship of sports and cultural events in Latin America, In Wenner, L & Jackson, S. (Eds.), Sport, Beer, and Gender: Promotional Culture and Contemporary Social Life, Peter Lang Publishing, New York, NY: 75-95.

Jette, S., Sparks R, & Dal Cin, S. (2007), Smoke screen or silver screen? Coming to terms with cigarette placements in Hollywood films, Policy Options, 28 (7): 84-88.

Jette, S., Wilson, B. & Sparks R. (2007), Female youths’ perceptions of smoking in popular films, Qualitative Health Research, 17 (3): 323-339.

Darnell, S. & Sparks, R. (2006). ‘Meaning transfer’ in sports news and sponsorship: promoting Canadian Olympic triathlete Simon Whitfield, International Journal of Sport Marketing and Sponsorship, 8 (2): 159-178.

Leatherdale, S. T., Sparks, R. & Kirsch, V. (2006). Beliefs about tobacco industry (mal)practices and youth smoking behaviour: insight for future tobacco control campaigns. Cancer Causes and Control, 17 (5), 705-711.

Sparks, R., Young, M. L., & Darnell, S. (2006). Convergence, corporate restructuring, and Canadian online news, 2000-2003, Canadian Journal of Communication, 31 (2), 391-423.

Poland, B., Frohlich, K., Haines, R. J., Mykhalovskiy, E., Rock, M. & Sparks, R. (2006). The social context of smoking: the next frontier in tobacco control? Tobacco Control, 15, 59-63.

Yang, X. & Sparks, R. (2006). Multinational corporate investment in sport sponsorship in China: cultural difference and integration. Journal of Sport and Science, 2, March, 26-28.

Sparks, R., Dewhirst, T., Jette, S., & Schweinbenz, A. (2005). Historical hangovers or burning possibilities: regulation and adaptation in tobacco and alcohol sponsorship, In J. Amis and T.B. Cornwell (Eds.), Global Sport Sponsorship, Oxford & New York: Berg, 19-66.

Yang, X. & Sparks, R. (2005). Effects of sport sponsorship on building brand equity in China: an analysis. Sports Culture Guide, 42 (12), 11-14.

Darnell, S. & Sparks, R. (2005). Inside the promotional vortex: Canadian media construction of Sydney Olympic triathlete Simon Whitfield, International Review for the Sociology of Sport, 40 (3), 357-376.

Dewhirst, T. & Sparks, R. (2003). Intertextuality, tobacco sponsorship of sports, and adolescent male smoking culture: a selective review of tobacco industry documents, Journal of Sport and Social Issues, 27 (4), 372-398.

Sparks, R. and Westgate, M. “Sponsoring Women’s Team Sports: Broad-based and Targeted Sponsorship Strategies in Canadian Women’s Ice Hockey”, International Journal of Sport Marketing and Sponsorship, 2002, Vol. 3, No. 1, 49-84.

Wilson, B. and Sparks, R. “Michael Jordan, Sneaker Commercials, and Canadian Youth Cultures,” In D. Andrews (Ed.), Michael Jordan Inc.: Corporate Sport, Media Culture, and Late Modern America, Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2001.

Sparks, R. and Green, L.W. “Chapter 9. Mass Media in Support of Smoking Cessation,” In National Cancer Institute, Population Based Smoking Cessation: Proceedings of a Conference on What Works to Influence Cessation in the General Population, Smoking and Tobacco Control Monograph No. 12. Bethesda, MD: U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, National Institutes of Health, National Cancer Institute, NIH Pub. No. 00-4892, November 2000, 199-216.

Hoek, J. and Sparks, R. “Tobacco Promotion Restrictions: An International Regulatory Impasse?” International Marketing Review, 2000, 17 (3), 216-230.

Wilson, B. and Sparks, R. “Impacts of Black Athlete Media Portrayals on Canadian Youth,” Canadian Journal of Communication, 1999, Vol. 24 (4), 589-627.

Sparks, R. “Youth Awareness of Tobacco Sponsorship as a Dimension of Brand Equity,” International Journal of Sport Marketing and Sponsorship, 1999, 1 (3), 236-260. Simultaneously published in: International Journal of Advertising and Marketing to Children, 1999, 1 (3), 193-218.

Sparks, R. and Green, L. Chapter IV. Mass Media in Support of Smoking Cessation. In Green, L. and Frankish, J. (Eds.). Smoking Cessation: A Synthesis of the Literature on Program Effectiveness, Report to the British Columbia Ministry of Health, July ,1998, Institute of Health Promotion Research, The University of British Columbia, pp. 61-95.

Sparks, R. “Tobacco Control Legislation, Public Health and Sport Sponsorship,” Asia-Australia Journal of Marketing, 1997, Vol 5, No.1, December, 59-70.

Donnelly, P. and Sparks, R. “Child Sexual Abuse in Sport,” In P. Donnelly (Ed.), Taking Sports Seriously: Social Issues in Canadian Sport, Toronto: Thompson Educational Publishing, 1997: 200-205.

Sparks, R. “Bill C-71 and Tobacco Sponsorship of Sports,” Policy Options, 1997, 18, 3: 22-25.

Donnelly, P. and Sparks, R. “Child Sexual Abuse in Sport,” Policy Options, 1997, 18, 3: 3-5.

Wilson, B. and R. Sparks. “‘It’s Gotta Be the Shoes’: Youth, Race and Sneaker Commercials”, Sociology of Sport Journal, 1996, 13, 398-427.

Sparks, R. “Balancing Management Training and Education: Response to Stothart and Smith,” ANZALS Leisure Research Series, 1996, 3, 86-95.

Sparks, R. and B. Gauthier. Implementing Change: A National Study of NSO Communications and Media Relations: Technical Report, June, 1996, 45 pages.

Sparks, R. “Sport Management Education in New Zealand: A Situation Analysis and A Proposal,” ANZALS Leisure Research Series, 1995, 2, 94-124.

Sparks, R. “Rethinking Media Evaluation: Tobacco Sponsorship Messages and Narrative Conventions in Motorsport Telecasts,” World Marketing Congress, Melbourne, Australia, July 7-10, 1995, Vol VII-III, 11-1 to 11-5.

Sparks, R. Conditions and Trends Affecting Sports Reporting at Canadian Daily Newspapers: Technical Report, June, 1994, 52 pages.

Sparks, R. Incidental Active Lifestyle Messages in National Consumer Brand Advertising: Technical Report, May, 1993, 56 pages.

Sparks, R. “‘Delivering the Male’: Sports, Canadian Television, and the Making of T.S.N.,” Canadian Journal of Communication, 1992, 17 (3), 319-342.

Harvey, J. and R. Sparks. “Politics of the Body in the Context of Modernity,” Quest, 1991, 43 (2), 164-189.

Sparks, R. with K. Brown. Canadian Directory of Newspaper Sports Journalists. Vancouver: Lifestyle Media Research, 1991, 53 pages.

Sparks, R. “Social Practice, the Bodily Professions and the State,” Sociology of Sport Journal, 1990, 7: 72-82.