The purpose of this study was to determine whether the in-game communication of football players from historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) was excessively penalized in the field of play. Previous literature has found that referee bias is commonplace and uncovered evidence that referees socially judge the communicative behaviors of HBCU student athletes differently than the communicative behaviors of student athletes from predominantly White institutions. This led to social judgment theory emerging as the theoretical frame. Quantitative methods were utilized to analyze National Collegiate Athletic Association data for Division II college football. Findings revealed that referees disproportionately flagged football teams from HBCUs in comparison with predominantly White institutions. These results provide implications for theory. The uncovered results also support a well-developed line of communication research that has indicated that excessive penalties are levied against HBCU teams in multiple sports. A rhetorical call to action is made to facilitate officiating change in intercollegiate athletics.
Jason Stamm and Brandon Boatwright
Using a theoretical underpinning of parasocial interaction—BIRGing (basking in reflected glory) and CORFing (cutting off reflected failure)—this study explored fan reactions to high school athletes’ commitments to play football for National Collegiate Athletic Association Division I programs. A thematic analysis of tweets made by fans during the 2020 recruiting period was examined in two stages: (a) tweets directed toward recruits before they committed to a program and (b) tweets directed toward recruits after they committed. Findings show fan frivolity in regard to identification, as well as a desire to become part of the recruiting process of high school football players. In addition, results yield the possibility of a shift in athlete motivations for social media use, fan association with athletics programs, and how fans cope with unexpected loss. Theoretical and practical implications are further discussed.
Ted Hayduk III, Natasha Brison, and Joris Drayer
The efficacy of partitioned pricing (PP) has been investigated in a range of industries. This work showed that the usefulness of PP is situational, with numerous contextual factors playing important roles. Ticket pricing scholarship has yet to devote adequate attention to PP as a focal variable, which is problematic given the industry’s reliance on ticket revenue and the “service” fees ubiquitous in the ticketing industry. In addition, there is a need to investigate the moderating factors unique to sport consumption, such as team identification and the entertainment value of live sport. Using a sample of 403 sport consumers, this study found that PP is associated with lower perceptions of fairness but not lower enduring attitudes about the platform. Thus, sport consumers are displeased by PP, but not enough to dissuade them from future purchases. The analysis found that team identification—the entertainment value of live sports entertainment value—can further offset negative perceptions of PP.
Akira Asada, Yuhei Inoue, and Yonghwan Chang
The #TakeAKnee movement initiated by Colin Kaepernick and the measures taken by the National Football League (NFL) to handle the situation received mixed reactions from the public. The authors developed and tested a structural model using survey data collected from 698 residents of a Super Bowl host city. The results indicated a positive relationship between attitudes toward the movement and attitudes toward the league’s responses, which in turn influenced league credibility. However, after taking the indirect effect into account, attitudes toward the movement had a direct negative relationship with league credibility. In addition, people who viewed the NFL as a credible organization tended to perceive the Super Bowl as relevant to them and as impactful for the host city. Therefore, sport organizations should develop consistent, comprehensive communication strategies that enable them to maximize a positive synergy between their approach to crisis communication and their approach to other types of communication.
Patrick C. Gentile, Nicholas R. Buzzelli, Sean R. Sadri, and Nathan A. Towery
When the sports world abruptly shut down in March 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, sports journalists were left without live events to cover. To better understand how sports reporters adapted to these unforeseen circumstances, 23 in-depth interviews were conducted with American sports journalists working at local and national newspapers to acquire firsthand accounts of story topics, newsgathering procedures, and impacts on the industry moving forward. Three main themes emerged from the interviews: lack of access to players and coaches, remote newsgathering, and a temporary move to other departments in the newsroom, which required the sportswriters to be more creative. The theoretical and practical implications of these findings are discussed.
Paul J. MacArthur and Lauren Reichart Smith
The National Broadcasting Company’s (NBC) primetime broadcast of the 2018 PyeongChang Olympics over 18 nights was analyzed to determine differences between the network’s treatment of U.S. and non-U.S. Olympians. Consistent with previous findings, an American athlete was the most mentioned athlete, and Americans composed the majority of the Top 20 most mentioned athletes. In contrast to previous findings, American athletes accounted for only 38.68% of the mentions, the lowest amount recorded since studies began with the 1996 Games. In addition, a sport-by-sport analysis revealed that an American was the most mentioned athlete in 8 of the 15 winter sports, and Americans received more mentions in 4 winter sports. Regarding descriptions ascribed to the Olympians, American athletes were more likely to be portrayed as succeeding due to superior concentration, composure, and commitment, while non-Americans were more likely to be portrayed as failing due to a lack of concentration, strength, and ability. Non-Americans were also more likely to be described as modest/introverted. Contextualization of these findings is provided.
Ulrik Wagner, Rasmus K. Storm, and Kenneth Cortsen
Recently, 12 European football clubs launched the idea of creating the European Super League. After massive protests from fans, the Union of European Football Associations, politicians, coaches, and players, the initiative was stopped. In this commentary, the authors reflect on some of the problems facing football and argue that the creation of a European Super League is not a solution to the challenges. However, European football does face problems that require actions, and thus the authors provide some suggestions to progress.
Fallon R. Mitchell, Paula M. van Wyk, and Sara Santarossa
Through user-generated posts on Instagram, Paralympians’ self-presentation may mitigate stereotypes associated with disability, counteracting negative assumptions. Using content analyses and paired t tests, visual content posted by Paralympians was examined for the portrayal of disability stereotypes. Compared with the social media content of able-bodied athletes, which typically focus on personal and lifestyle aspects, the majority of the Paralympians’ visual content depicted them engaged in sport or fitness-related activities. By posting content that depicts physical competence and elite abilities, Paralympians may change the narrative to promote the capabilities of athletes with a disability. Through the portrayal of sport and exercise engagement on social media platforms, these Paralympians are potentially mitigating disability stereotypes with the intent to curate a culture that is more accepting and inclusive.