Stealing Thunder Through Social Media: The Framing of Maria Sharapova’s Drug Suspension

in International Journal of Sport Communication
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In March 2016 the highest-paid women’s athlete, Maria Sharapova, called a press conference to announce a failed drug test. Sharapova relied on the crisis communication strategy of stealing thunder to present the information to media and break the story. The authors analyze how the press conference and her strategy were portrayed in traditional and online media and how Sharapova promoted and broadcast the press conference to defend herself. Using Linguistic Inquiry and Word Count (LIWC) software and textual analysis, the authors argue that Sharapova’s use of the stealing-thunder strategy successfully influenced media narratives about her suspension and should be considered by athletes in crisis situations.

Bell is with the Zimmerman School of Advertising & Mass Communications, University of South Florida, Tampa, FL. Hartman is with the Dept. of Communication, Media, and Persuasion, Idaho State University, Pocatello, ID.

Bell (trbell@usf.edu) is corresponding author.
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