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Hyperprofessionalized and Commodified: A Case Study Examination of FBS Bowl Games and the Utilization of Football Players as Programmatic Promotional Material

Chris Corr, Richard M. Southall, Crystal Southall, and Richard J. Hart

Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) football games are presented in a hypercommercialized manner by television broadcast networks through the targeted use of in-game graphics and corporatized content. While commercialized FBS football broadcast components have been analyzed within the frameworks of a hypercommercialized National Collegiate Athletic Association and media institutional logics, an analysis of commentator language has yet to be examined within the larger institutional field of FBS football broadcasts. Utilizing agenda setting and media framing as frameworks, this case study examined the manner in which commentators frame FBS football players as professionals in a hypercommercialized institutional setting. From a sample of 18 FBS bowl games during the 2019–20 season, discourse and thematic analysis reveal that commentators frame FBS football players in the context of their future professional opportunities (i.e., National Football League). The framing of FBS football players as professionals aligns with extant literature examining the broader institutional field of broadcast media and logics pervasive in the National Collegiate Athletic Association as an organization. The commodification of FBS football players as integral components to strategic programmatic content promoting future broadcast programming is discussed.

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Interview With Amanda Brooks, ESPN PR/Director of Communications for College Football and SEC Network

Grace Berger

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“Media Industries and Sport Scandals” Redux: Netflix’s Untold: The Girlfriend Who Didn’t Exist

Benjamin Burroughs and Travis Vogan

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Whither College Sports: Amateurism, Athlete Safety, and Academic Integrity

Brian Mancuso

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Athlete A

Claudia Benavides-Espinoza

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Health Communication and Sport: Connections, Applications, and Opportunities

Zack P. Pedersen

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Understanding the LPGA Tour Top Six Korean Golfers’ Self-Presentation on Social Media: A Content Analysis of Instagram Posts

Wonyul Bae, Kim Hahn, and Minseok Cho

With a growing number of people using social media such as Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter, it has become extremely important for professional athletes to build and promote their personal brands through social media. The purpose of this study was to understand how LPGA Tour Korean golfers use social media for self-presentation. Through content analysis, the self-presentation forms of the top six Korean LPGA Tour golfers were examined. The result showed that the golfers are more likely to use the form of the front stage rather than the backstage. The number of likes and comments is higher when golfers post backstage photos and write photo stories in both Korean and English languages on Instagram. This study contributes to the field of sport social media research theoretically with new subcategorization to Goffman’s self-presentation and suggests a new insight into personal brand marketing strategies via social media for both athletes and sponsors.

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Centering the Self, Doing the Sport, and Being the Brand: The Self-Branding of Lifestyle Athletes on Instagram

Joshua Woods, Matthew Hartwell, Leah Oldham, and Stephanie House-Niamke

Several scholars have examined how sport stars and other celebrities establish personal brands on social media, but few studies have used a longitudinal research design to study the self-branding process itself and measure changes in self-branding behaviors over time. Based on a content analysis of 6,240 images posted on Instagram by 112 top-ranked professional disc golfers, this study shows how self-branding is a common practice even among the players of this lesser known sport. Drawing on Goffman’s work on impression management, self-branding is conceptualized as goal-oriented, strategic communication. The players’ uptake in self-branding may be a response to the disc golf industry’s rapid growth and new opportunities to market products on social media. While the study partially supports this perspective, it also reveals an interesting contradiction. Many players engaged in self-branding regardless of their social status or ability to monetize their personas. Bourdieu’s concepts of habitus, field, and capital may help explain why self-branding is so widespread among lifestyle athletes.

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The Role of Culture in Using Social Media in Sport: The Case of Australian and Singaporean Elite Sportswomen

Popi Sotiriadou, Leah Brokmann, and Jason Doyle

The use of social media is reflective of an individual’s culture. The purpose of this study was to examine the influence of the cultural context on Australian and Singaporean sportswomen’s uses of social media. In-depth interviews with 12 elite sportswomen from both countries combined with supplementary information collected through the participating athletes’ Instagram profiles showed that social media uses are influenced by uncertainty avoidance, individualism or collectivism, masculinity or femininity, and long- or short-term orientations. By applying Hofstede and Bond’s cultural dimensions framework, the study presents new knowledge on three cultural dimensions (i.e., uncertainty avoidance, masculinity vs. femininity, and long-term vs. short-term orientation) and broadens the field of sport and social media by comparing the use of social media between athletes from diverse cultures. The study offers significant insight for designing a branding strategy that encompasses cultural contexts to guide athletes on their use of social media.

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When Sports Fans Buy: Contextualizing Social Media Engagement Behavior to Predict Purchase Intention

Emil Steiner, Matthew Pittman, and Brandon Boatwright

While sports fandom and social media advertising have been widely studied, and all major, professional teams use social media campaigns for direct sales, there is surprisingly little research on the relationship between fans’ social media engagement behavior (SMEB) and their purchase intention (PI), and none that differentiates PI across different platforms and sports contexts. This study addresses those gaps by exploring (a) how different kinds of fans engage their teams’ advertising on various social media and (b) how those different behaviors predict PI in different contexts. To do so, we utilized an SMEB framework to interpret survey data (N = 452) of U.S. sports fans’ social media engagement with their favorite teams over six popular platforms for two situations—in-game and out-of-game. Regression analyses determined the extent to which those behaviors predict PI across different sports and platforms during and outside of games. Our results show that fan SMEB varies by sport, platform, and situation. Furthermore, we found that information-acquiring social media behaviors—such as checking scores—best predict PI in-game, while fan-identity cultivation social media behaviors—such as posting—best predict PI out-of-game. In addition, PI predictability varies across platform and game situation, but not across age, gender, or even level of fandom. By contextualizing the relationship between fan SMEB and PI, our study lays a foundation to address these lingering gaps in the sport communication literature while providing actionable insights for teams and brands seeking more effective sales campaigns across an array of social media.