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.
Emeka Anaza, Paul Mabrey, Mikihiro Sato, Olivia Miller, and Julia Thompson
This research explored the usefulness of a mock-interview assignment through collaborative work between sport and recreation management faculty and communication center staff. The assignment paired entry-level undergraduate students working on mock-interviewing skills as job applicants with upper level undergraduate students acting as hiring managers for a series of mock interviews. Peer educators and faculty in the communication center conducted instructional workshops, provided direct student support and feedback, and facilitated the mock interviews. Data were collected on students’ insights of their job interview skills and career preparation during the 2019–20 academic year. The pivot to emergency remote learning during the spring 2020 semester led the assignment and research collection to happen virtually. The results and findings advocate the positive impact that role playing as hiring managers has on students, the effectiveness of students’ receiving multiple sources of feedback, and the value of virtual or online mock interviewing.