A Critical Analysis of Coaches’ Perceptions of Athletic Department Involvement in Team-Related Social Media Activism

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Natalie Bunch Department of Kinesiology and Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA

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Beth A. Cianfrone Department of Kinesiology and Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA

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Lauren Beasley Department of Kinesiology and Health, Georgia State University, Atlanta, GA, USA

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National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) coaches are among the most visible leaders on campuses. With recent calls for diversity efforts, coaches are faced with decisions regarding supporting or promoting their teams’ and athletes’ racial justice actions on team social media accounts. However, sport information staff often manage the team’s social media strategy and may not reflect the coaches’ goals. Framed by the theory of racialized organizations, we examined NCAA coaches’ attitudes toward their athletic department’s role in social media activism on their team pages. We surveyed 174 coaches across divisions and investigated differences based on coaches’ gender, race, and division. Findings suggest that coaches supported activism but were less confident in the role of the athletic department in posting about racial justice on team accounts. Interpreting results through the theory of racialized organizations, coaches, specifically White coaches, may view their college athletic departments as race-neutral organizations. There is opportunity for those managing team platforms to further promote social justice messaging to demonstrate organizational support.

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