This case study examines contemporary recreational sports practitioners’ communication practices and social tie formation from the perspective of two lifestyle sports disciplines: climbing and trail running. Online survey results from 301 climbers and trail runners from Finland indicate that computer-mediated communication (CMC) has established its place in recreational lifestyle sports cultures; however, it has not done it at the expense of face-to-face (FtF) communication. Online interaction produces weak social ties with instrumental and informative value, but physical location is essential in establishing ties with emotional and appraisal value. This paper argues that it is the sports subculture and individual practitioners’ needs that define how interaction is realized, and what importance different online and off-line communication practices have. Besides studying communication practices, this case study explores the social meanings practitioners attribute to their social contacts.
Ehrlén is with the Dept. of Language and Communication Studies, University of Jyväskylä, Jyväskylä, Finland.