The purpose of this commentary is to present the state of sport, social media, and crisis communication research. Existing crisis-communication research involving athletes and coaches; collegiate institutions; teams, leagues, and governing bodies; journalists; and other sport entities are discussed. The commentary concludes with a discussion of directions for future research, including (a) interviewing industry professionals, (b) employing survey design to examine user response, (c) employing experimental design with social media manipulations, (d) validating and developing frameworks, and (e) examining additional social media platforms.
Examining the Intersection of Sport, Social Media, and Crisis Communication
Evan L. Frederick and Ann Pegoraro
Social Media and Athlete Welfare
Emma J. Kavanagh, Chelsea Litchfield, and Jaquelyn Osborne
While the topic of athlete welfare has gained significant attention in academic literature, to date there has been a primacy placed on physical settings and their ability to augment or thwart the welfare of athletes. The discourse has, therefore, neglected the advent of social media spaces and their potential to have a significant impact on athlete welfare. Social media platforms are now a vital component in the lives of athletes who are increasingly reliant on maintaining an online presence and following. In this commentary, we consider the scope of social media and its potential impact on the welfare of athletes, particularly female athletes. In doing so, we identify and discuss some of the positive health and well-being outcomes associated with increased online communication and self-representation in social media spaces. We examine the scholarship concerning the threats posed by social media spaces, consider power in virtual environments and its impact on welfare, and finally suggest some future directions for scholarship in this field.
Big Data and Innovative Research Methods
Yoseph Z. Mamo
Big data and innovative research methods are two rapidly evolving trends that are transforming how we conduct research in sport management. Considering the natural relationship between social media, which is widely recognized as a major big-data source, and sport, this commentary centers on contemporary research method applied to social media data. In doing so, it discusses contemporary innovative techniques for social media data, focusing on exploring ways to access social media data, the natural language-processing techniques used, the challenges they address, the strengths and limitations of different techniques, and the ethical and privacy considerations associated with their use. Furthermore, the commentary demonstrates that using sentiment-analysis tools (e.g., Syuzhet, Bing, and AFFIN) is appropriate and efficient in analyzing sport’s social media data. Thus, a rigorous application of contemporary innovative techniques can significantly shape the future of sport management research. However, researchers must exercise caution when considering the source and preprocessing of the data prior to applying advanced analytical techniques.
“In Soccer, We Have the Opportunity to Call Attention to Certain Things”: An Examination of Media Framing of Activism for Human Rights in German Sport
Yannick Kluch, Evan L. Frederick, and Nina Siegfried
The goal of this study was to extend the contemporary athlete activism literature by (a) exploring athlete activism beyond a strictly North American context and (b) examining how athlete activism at an organizational/institutional level (i.e., sport organization) may be framed differently than activist efforts at an individual level (i.e., athlete). By examining two examples of activism in German soccer, we show that the framing of both athlete-enacted and organization-enacted examples of activism highlighted the importance of speaking up when human rights are violated, called for the display of solidarity, and discussed the broader political implications for such protests. Additionally, framing of both examples of activism included voices of criticism regarding the sport organizations governing global sport. As calls for accountability of sport organizations suppressing athlete expression are becoming increasingly common in global sport, this study adds to a shifting focus of activism research targeting the sport institutions that often perpetuate the various injustices individual athletes call attention to.
Social Media and Consumer Behavior
Andrea N. Geurin
The topics of social media and consumer behavior are inextricably linked. Since 2008, scholars in sport-studies fields such as sport communication and sport management have increasingly focused their research on social media use by sport entities and consumers. This commentary provides an overview of sport social media and consumer behavior scholarship to date, including prominent and growing topics such as consumers’ uses of social media, social media engagement, user segmentation, and user-generated content. A scoping review was conducted to illustrate the current state of research on social media, sport, and consumer behavior. Future research priorities to advance this area of inquiry are also discussed, including more qualitative research resulting in rich and descriptive analyses, the need to better understand Gen Z as sport social media consumers, and the need to understand the connection between social media consumption and purchasing behavior. Finally, the commentary encourages scholars to expand their research focus in geographic contexts outside of North America, on underrepresented groups, such as women’s sport and disability sport, and to adopt new theoretical frameworks for such research.
Examining the Digital Pitch: A 3-Year Examination of Social Media Metrics From Men’s Professional Sport
Alyssa Scalera and Michael L. Naraine
Although research in the social media and sport domain continues to uncover key insights related to content, there has been a push toward identifying the social media metrics that serve as the antecedents to relationship marketing engagement. Along that vein, the purpose of this study was to analyze social media activity (i.e., impressions and engagements) from all teams in a given professional sport league over a 3-year period. Contextually set with Major League Soccer teams for the 2017, 2018, and 2019 calendar years, 66,745 Instagram posts were retrieved using MVPindex and parsed for focal social media metrics (i.e., impressions and engagements) for each team using a temporal lens (i.e., by month and by day). Findings of this study align with past work indicating the need for sport properties to focus on posting outside of game-day windows, harnessing the ongoing, instantaneous nature of social media.
Team Representation: Scale Development and Validation
Akira Asada and Katherine R.N. Reifurth
The purpose of the current study was to develop a valid and reliable measure of team representation, which refers to the extent to which the residents of a community perceive a local sports team to be representative of the community. Through our literature review, focus groups, and surveys, we identified four key dimensions that serve as formative indicators of team representation (i.e., normative, descriptive, symbolic, and substantive representation) and developed scale items measuring those dimensions. The results of exploratory factor analysis and partial least squares structural equation modeling confirmed the validity of our scale items and reflective–formative measurement model. As the first study to develop and validate scale items measuring specific dimensions of team representation, the current research provides significant contributions to the literature. Our scale items also enable sports teams to assess their representative status in their local communities and develop effective strategies to improve their representation.
University–Organization Collaboration in Sport for Development: Understanding Practitioners’ Perspectives and Experiences in Research and Evaluation Partnerships
Meredith A. Whitley, Jon Welty Peachey, Julia Leitermann, NaRi Shin, and Adam Cohen
Despite a growing body of scholarship exploring university–organization collaborations in the sport for development (SfD) field, there has been limited consideration of the experiences of practitioners and partnering organizations in these partnerships. The purpose of this study was to examine their experiences when partnering with academic institutions, programs, scholars, and/or students, with a specific focus on research and evaluation partnerships. Interviews were conducted with 22 participants working at 20 SfD organizations in the United States. Findings were organized into six main categories (e.g., motivations, factors that facilitate or impede collaboration, collaboration outcomes). A conceptual process framework for university–organization collaboration emerged from the data. This study is one of the first in the SfD field to examine practitioners’ perspectives of university–organization collaborations centered on research and evaluation activities. The findings help advance the SfD field, identifying the various factors at play as these partnerships are formed, activated, and sustained.
Volume 37 (2023): Issue 3 (May 2023)
Are Soccer Organizations More Resilient in Crisis Situations? A Scholarly Commentary on the Audiotape Scandal of Real Madrid’s President
In July 2021, numerous audio recordings dating back to 2006 through 2012 were leaked. In them, Real Madrid’s President Florentino Pérez was heard insulting some of the most beloved legends of Real Madrid fans, including celebrity Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite his lack of manners, the seriousness of the president’s insults, and the lack of a formal apology, the images of Pérez and Real Madrid barely suffered because of this incident. This scholarly commentary examines the variables of culture and country as well as the specific characteristics of the soccer industry and fandom that explain the lack of public accountability when a top executive of a soccer organization commits verbal excesses in form and substance, as in the Pérez case.