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Jue Hou, Xiaoxu Yang and Elliot Panek

This paper examined the media and public relations coverage of e-sport in China over a 17-yr period, focusing on how the representations of e-sport as a fast-growing industry have changed in China during that time. With the theoretical underpinning of media framing, the study used content analysis and examined 400 e-sport-related reports. Specifically, it investigated the tone of coverage, the topic emphasis of e-sport-related stories, and the use of jargon and statistics in the reports. In general, findings indicated that both mainstream media and public relations gradually covered e-sport issues in a more positive way as time went by. Similar to reporting on traditional sports, the topic emphasis changed from nongame issues to player and team performance in the contemporary climate. The findings highlight the importance of live-streaming platforms in e-sport development and suggest that more traditional-sport-styled media coverage of e-sport might benefit the industry. Finally, the study calls for an evaluation of media e-sport coverage in different cultural contexts and comparisons between e-sport’s and traditional sports’ representation in the contemporary media climate.

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Lauren C. Hindman and Nefertiti A. Walker

Women remain the minority in sport organizations, particularly in leadership roles, and prior work has suggested that sexism may be to blame. This study examines women’s experiences of both overt and subtle sexism in the sport industry as well as the impact such experiences have on their careers. Based on interviews and journal entries from women managers working in a men’s professional sports league, the findings suggest that the culture of sport organizations perpetuates sexism, including the diminishment and objectification of women. Sexism occurs in women’s everyday interactions with their supervisors and coworkers, as well as others that they interact with as part of their jobs. Such experiences result in professional and emotional consequences, which women navigate by employing tactics that enable their survival in the sport industry.

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Matthew Katz, Thomas A. Baker III and Hui Du

In this brand community analysis, the authors utilized both the social identity approach and network theory to examine the multiple identities and patterns of interactions among members of an official soccer supporters club. Based on the Multiple In-Group Identity Framework and the brand community triad, the authors differentiated between team and supporter club identity to explore how each affects consumption behaviors. Furthermore, the authors explored the nature of fan relationships based on network principles of multiplexity and homophily as they relate to consumption and socializing ties among fan club members. They also explored the network structure of the brand community. Using both network theory and network methodologies, the authors examined how the multiple identities and many relationships within the brand community affect the consumption behaviors of fan club members. Theoretical and practical implications were considered as they relate to sport consumer behavior and sport marketing.

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Pamela Wicker and Paul Downward

This study examines the causal effect of different voluntary roles in sport on individuals’ subjective well-being. Theoretically, volunteering can affect well-being through various mechanisms, including enjoyment, new contacts, skill development, exercising altruism, and relational goods. The empirical analysis uses data from 28 European countries (n = 52,957). Subjective well-being is measured with self-reported life satisfaction. The number of administrative roles (e.g., board or committee member, administrative tasks), sport-related roles (e.g., coach, instructor, referee), and operational roles (e.g., organize a sport event, provide transport) capture volunteering. The results of linear regression models support the positive relationship between volunteering and subjective well-being as evident in existing research. However, instrumental variable estimates reveal that only the number of operational roles has a significant positive effect on well-being, whereas the effects of administrative and sport-related roles are jointly significantly negative. The findings of this study have implications for sport organizations and policy makers.

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Brian P. McCullough, Madeleine Orr and Nicholas M. Watanabe

A paradox exists between the ways sport organizations evaluate their economic impact, compared with their environmental impact. Although the initial sustainability and corporate social responsibility efforts of sport organizations should be celebrated, it is appropriate to call for the next advancement concerning the assessment and measurement of environmental sustainability efforts in sport organizations. Specifically, there is a need for improved and increased monitoring and measurement of sustainable practices that include negative environmental externalities. To usher this advancement, the authors first reviewed the extant research and current industry practice involving environmental impact reporting in sport. Second, the authors proposed a conceptual framework that expands the scope of environmental assessment to be more comprehensive. As such, this expanded, yet more accurate, assessment of environmental impact can identify specific aspects of the event and the inputs and outputs of the before and after event phases that can be curtailed or modified to reduce environmental impacts of sport events.

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Michelle Hayes, Kevin Filo, Caroline Riot and Andrea Geurin

Numerous studies have focused on athletes’ use of social media by examining the content posted on social media sites, revealing an opportunity to gather firsthand experiences from athletes. Using uses-and-gratifications theory as a theoretical framework to inform an open-ended questionnaire, the authors examined athlete attitudes toward their social media use during a major sport event, as well as the gratifications they received and the challenges they experienced from this use. The study assessed a sample of 57 athletes and their social media use across 20 international major sport events. Findings revealed that social media enabled athletes to communicate with family and friends. Having a connection to home through social media can make athletes feel relaxed in a high-pressure environment. The results reveal uses and gratifications not previously found in research on athlete social media, while also underscoring opportunities for sport organizations to enhance social-media-education programs they provide to athletes.

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Bo Li, Olan K.M. Scott, Stirling Sharpe, Qingru Xu and Michael Naraine

Media coverage in China and Australia examined a conflict between 2 Olympic swimmers, Chinese Sun Yang and Australian Mack Horton, during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. While both swimmers performed well, there were several conflicts between the 2 leading to both nations’ media coverage portraying the foreign athlete negatively. An analysis of 398 print-media articles revealed there were sharp differences between the 2 nations in both the amount of coverage and the valence of the information sources. From a theoretical perspective, the framing of this conflict showed an “us vs. them” dichotomy, suggesting that both countries’ coverage was strongly influenced to protect the reputation and honor of the home athlete. Coverage in both nations was markedly different, suggesting a home-nation favoritism. Implications for sport communicators are discussed.

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Sitong Guo, Andrew C. Billings and James C. Abdallah

This study investigated how LeBron James’s free-agency decision in 2018 influences sport fans’ image impressions of him with in-groups (Cleveland Cavaliers) and out-groups (all other NBA teams) compared. In the months preceding James’s free-agency decision, an experimental design was employed to ask self-ascribed fans of LeBron James how they felt about 4 possible free-agency destinations: the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Houston Rockets, the Golden State Warriors, and his eventual selection, the Los Angeles Lakers. A total of 189 U.S. fans of LeBron James were recruited for the study. Results indicate that James’s image became worse (in terms of mean scores) for every out-group condition, while being slightly improved if opting to remain in the in-group; however, images were significantly different from other out-groups in the scenario in which LeBron James opted to join the Golden State Warriors—the Cavaliers most immediate rival at the time.

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Dustin A. Hahn

While many sport fans gravitate to new media, questions remain regarding what they are consuming. Specifically, this study addresses a nascent gap in sport communication research by identifying the presentation form and subject portrayals of 443 Instagram posts during 2018 college basketball tournaments and measuring subsequent likability of such depictions. Results yield 4 important findings. Primarily, in contrast to early exemplification research, evidence suggests that some audiences “like” base-rate information. In addition, while Instagram is known as a photo platform, posts in this population were most often videos, and memes were liked more than any other presentation form. Next, while this content analysis identifies an old problem in a new domain—that female athletes are shunned in favor of male athletes—it demonstrates that likability in this medium emerges as equal for male and female subjects and sports. Finally, related to subject demographics, findings demonstrated racial disparities and concerning statistics for likability of minority subjects. Implications for exemplification theory and social media producers in sport are discussed along with limitations and directions for future research in this burgeoning arena.

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Patrick McAvoy and Taesoo Ahn