During the Tokyo 2020 Olympics, Team USA athlete Simone Biles withdrew from several gymnastics events midcompetition, citing mental health issues. Biles, one of the most recognizable stars of the Games, faced intense scrutiny from both the world’s media and the general public in the immediate aftermath. The purpose of this study was to analyze the Facebook narrative surrounding Biles’s withdrawal within the theoretical context of framing, as crafted through user comments on various public high-profile Facebook pages. A total of 87,714 user comments were collected and analyzed using the qualitative software Leximancer. The themes emerging from the data suggested a polarizing narrative, with many users supporting Biles, engaging in the wider discussion surrounding athlete mental health, while others condemned her action, suggesting she quit on the biggest sporting stage.
The aim of the current study was to examine the sport motivations of three types of National Basketball Association fans based on their geographic proximity to the team: local fans (i.e., U.S.-based fans of a local team), nonlocal fans (i.e., U.S.-based fans of a nonlocal team), and distant fans (i.e., China-based fans). The author used the psychological continuum model to measure level of psychological involvement with the team in order to determine whether fans were casual, moderate, or loyal. Using one-way analyses of variance and factorial analyses of variance, the author found that Chinese distant fans reported the highest motivation for seven of the nine types of motivation measured. Results also show that geographic locality predicted significant motivational differences among casual and moderate fans but not among loyal fans. The findings have both theoretical and applied implications and call for stronger focus on the influence of locality in the sport industry.
Hailey A. Harris and Natasha T. Brison
Branding and self-presentation strategies on text and visual platforms have been explored in a variety of ways such as gendered analyses and content analyses performed on the social media profiles of athletes at multiple levels of sport. The purpose of this study was to examine branding and self-presentation strategies of two highly visible professional female soccer players (i.e., Alex Morgan and Megan Rapinoe) over two different time periods: 2019 and 2020. Results show that branding and presentation strategies can shift over the course of an athlete’s career. Implications from this study include adjusting brand strategies for clients over time, using other athletes’ strategies as their own framework, and promoting brand authenticity in accordance with their daily lives.
David Cassilo and Joseph McGlynn
This study examined interviews with former National Football League (NFL) players to better understand the role that source credibility plays in concussion and injury communication. The NFL has a complex history with concussions and other injuries, yet has made some recent attempts to improve player safety. Researchers interviewed 10 former NFL players about concussion and injury communication that is league-based, team-based, and teammate-based. The researchers performed a thematic analysis of those interview transcripts with a focus on source credibility and injury communication, finding that while the NFL has attempted to make the game safer, players still struggle to trust the league, which impacts their willingness to accept health information. These findings indicate that NFL players may never find the league truly credible or neutral toward injuries. Further, injury education programs that include greater involvement from teammates may be successful strategies to increasing awareness within the locker room, as players indicated that fellow players can be viewed as more trustworthy sources of information.
Eleanor Crabill, Callie Maddox, and Adam Beissel
The purpose of this study was to examine online news media coverage of the Australia–New Zealand joint bid to host the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. Following neoliberal feminist theory and a postfeminist framework, the meanings and discourses of women’s empowerment produced in, and disseminated by, Australia and New Zealand’s popular online news media were explored. A content analysis was used to examine 77 domestic online news media articles published in response to the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup bid and hosting announcement. The findings revealed that the popular online news media centered on three themes: opportunities for women and girls in sport, legacy outcomes, and commercial benefits. However, there was a clear lack of critical engagement from the news media over the bid’s initiatives, claims, and promises. Only 2.5% of all online news media coverage engaged in meaningful discussion, analysis, and critique of the purported social and economic impacts of the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup. This study raises critical questions about the role of Australian and New Zealand (sport) media in (a) serving as a prominent forum through which the As One 2023 bid committee could circulate strategically crafted, preferred narratives regarding the event’s legacies and impacts to manufacture consent and public support for event hosting and (b) propagating a postfeminist celebration of women’s sport mega events that uncritically circulates specious claims of women’s empowerment, participation growth, and commercial benefits of the event.
Masayuki Yoshida, Mikihiro Sato, and Jason Doyle
Subjective vitality is an important, yet understudied, indicator of eudaimonic well-being. People experience subjective vitality when they engage in need-satisfying activities. We investigate two sport consumption activities (stadium attendance and sport television viewing), team identification, and subjective vitality to understand how sport consumption mediates the impact of team identification on subjective vitality. Throughout a season, data were collected from local residents (n = 618) living within the franchise area of a Japanese professional baseball team. Structural equation modeling and bootstrapping mediation analysis showed that team identification exerted both a direct and an indirect effect via attendance frequency on subjective vitality. The proposed model and the findings offer new theoretical insights into the roles of subjective vitality, team identification, and stadium attendance in spectator sport. Consequently, sport teams can leverage these insights to intensify consumer experiences when people attend games, positively contributing to their well-being.
Liz Wanless and Michael L. Naraine
The purpose of this study was to analyze the diffusion of one sport innovation to forecast a second. Contextualized within the diffusion of innovations theory, this study investigated cumulative business analytics diffusion as an analog for cumulative natural language processing (NLP) diffusion in professional sport. A total of 89 teams of the 123 teams in the Big Four North American men’s professional sport leagues contributed: 21 from the National Football League, 23 from the National Basketball Association, 22 from Major League Baseball, and 23 from the National Hockey League. Utilizing an analogous forecasting approach, a discrete derivation of the Bass model was applied to cumulative BA adoption data. Parameters were then extended to predict cumulative NLP adoption. Resulting BA-estimated parameters (p = .0072, q = .3644) determined a close fit to NLP diffusion (root mean square error of approximation = 3.51, mean absolute error = 2.98), thereby validating BA to predict the takeoff and full adoption of NLP. This study illuminates an ongoing and isomorphic process for diffusion of innovations in the professional sport social system and generates a novel application of diffusion of innovations theory to the sport industry.
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.
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.