This study maps the semantic evolution of sponsorship research to develop a richer understanding of how the field has evolved. Using Leximancer text-analytics software, we conduct a content analysis of 841 sponsorship article abstracts from over 150 scholarly journals (1980–2012). We map the semantic evolution of the sponsorship concept and formulate a new definition of sponsorship research. Four foundational pillars of sponsorship research are identified: (1) intellectual, (2) strategic, (3) behavioral, and (4) relational. Sponsorship research is theorized to involve the investigation of the delivery of value to companies arising from the strategic implementation of their sponsorship marketing objectives.