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Volume 16 (2023): Issue 3 (Sep 2023): Special Issue—Social Media and Sport Communication: Critiquing the Scholarship

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Managing Organizational and Media Stress: The Case of Elite Norwegian Skiers

Elsa Kristiansen, Barrie Houlihan, and Hans Anton Stubberud

This case study focuses on how Norwegian ski jumpers performed in the Beijing 2022 Winter Olympics and the following FIS (International Ski and Snowboard Federation) ski flying World Championships 2022 in Vikersund, Norway, despite organizational conflict at the management level and intense and sustained media coverage the entire season. Five athletes (one third of the elite squad) were interviewed about how they coped with the stressors. The results revealed two main responses: One group avoided, as far as possible, hearing or reading about the conflicts and tried to stay in their “bubble” and focus on preparing for competition. The other group chose to follow the conflicts and was more willing to interact with the media, therefore experienced a higher degree of perceived stress, and consequently needed to employ a wider range of coping strategies. The findings highlight the importance of a consistent and effective management strategy in helping athletes to focus on training and competition preparation and insulate them from stressors generated by organizational turbulence and conflicts.

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Life After the Gridiron: Examining Retired National Football League Athletes’ Self-Presentation Strategies and Follower Engagement on Instagram Personal and Business Pages

Felipe Tamayo, Natasha T. Brison, and Hailey A. Harris

As athletes enter a new chapter in their lives retiring from their sport, the challenge of upholding and enhancing personal brands arises. There has been extensive research on athlete brand building via social media; however, there have been few studies analyzing how athletes build their own brands and brand extensions postcareer, particularly former National Football League (NFL) players. Sixteen retired NFL athletes were examined using Goffman’s theory of self-presentation to determine strategies used for building personal brand extensions and obtaining follower engagement via Instagram. Through a content analysis, a total of 2,933 Instagram posts were analyzed, and the findings from this study revealed that former NFL players with fewer followers received higher engagement rates, and retired NFL players made more backstage type of posts on personal pages compared with front-stage posts. Implications, recommendations, and future research suggestions also are discussed within the paper.

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An Analysis of Agenda Setting and Framing of American Marathon Television Coverage

Michael Clemons and Austin C. Bogina

This study examined nationally televised marathon coverage of three major U.S. marathons (the Boston Marathon, the Bank of America Chicago Marathon, and the Tata Consultancy Services New York City Marathon) to understand how able-bodied men and women, and men and women using wheelchairs were represented. Just under 8 hr of coverage was analyzed for clock time and the descriptions of athletes divided by divisions of able-bodied men and women and wheelchair athlete men and women. Able-bodied women received the majority of clock time in Boston and Chicago, while able-bodied men received the majority of clock time in New York City. Athletes using wheelchairs, both men and women, received much smaller amounts of coverage, especially in New York City. Women received more announcer mentions in all three races, with a heavier focus on their background, coaching, and emotion, although the only statistically significant category was emotion. Experience and race strategy/training were heavily emphasized for all divisions. Through this analysis, race producers have more guidance on how to cover future marathons in a more equitable and appropriate manner.

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No Longer a Sign of Weakness? Media Reporting on Mental Ill Health in Sport

Keith D. Parry, Abigail G. Braim, Rebecca E. Jull, and Matthew J. Smith

This study analyzed media framing of athletes who have suffered mental ill health. The mass media play a crucial role in shaping public attitudes and perceptions surrounding mental health, and the present study aimed to examine the media reporting of athletes’ mental ill health and to further explore how this reporting has changed over time. We examined the reporting of elite athletes in three U.K. media outlets between January 2000 and December 2019, identifying 75 athletes from 26 different sports. From analysis, four themes were developed to consider the content of media reporting and how it has changed over three time phases. The analysis revealed that media reporting of mental ill health has increased over time, and changes were observed in terms of the specific terminology used, with greater depth in the articles, such as journalists speaking to other professionals to construct the articles. This study contributes toward our growing understanding of the reporting of mental ill health by providing empirical evidence of the increased attention to the topic and increasingly responsible reporting in the media.

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His Work Here Is Done: How Sports Journalists and Commentators Framed Colin Kaepernick’s Possible Return to the National Football League

Ronald Bishop and Amanda Milo

A frame analysis was conducted of recent coverage by sports journalists of the on-again off-again possibility that Colin Kaepernick might sign a contract to play with a team in the National Football League (NFL). Kaepernick was blacklisted by league and team officials angry at, and hoping to avert public backlash from, Kaepernick’s 2016 decision to kneel during the national anthem to protest systemic police brutality and mass incarceration. The analysis enabled the creation of champions, distractions, exile, futility, impact, and spectacle frames. The analysis affirms that journalists may be priming readers to conclude that the NFL has learned its lesson, that some officials should be congratulated for generating the bravery to welcome Kaepernick back to the league and commended for their newfound insights about racism. The episodic frames emerging from coverage of the tryouts and a possible signing affirm that the “new appreciation” of Kaepernick has become a nonthreatening reverence for his place in history. Kaepernick’s exile now reads like a one-off, an outlier, rather than a glaring example of the systemic racism that still infects the league. Frames affirm that the NFL—with help from the nation’s sports writers and commentators—has taken control of the narrative with which fans process an athlete’s activism. They have legitimized the narrow space provided by the league for player protest.

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Serving Equality: Feminism, Media, and Women’s Sports

Kaja Poteko

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Assessing the Social Media Landscape in Sport: Evaluating the Present and Identifying Future Opportunities

Gashaw Abeza and Jimmy Sanderson

This article introduces a special issue of the International Journal of Sport Communication containing insightful commentaries by distinguished scholars in social media scholarship in sports studies. By inviting 25 scholars in the field, who contributed a total of 16 scholarly commentaries, the issue benefits from their extensive knowledge of the interplay between social media and sport. The scholarly commentaries address current trends, critique methods, challenge theories, and propose fresh approaches to understanding the impact of social media in sport. These scholars offer unique perspectives, innovative methodologies, and engaging writing that caters to a diverse readership. The articles provide valuable critiques; shed light on critical issues, controversies, and gaps in knowledge; and identify future directions for sport and social media scholarship to traverse. Importantly, the diverse perspectives presented in this issue stimulate academic dialogue and foster productive discussions within the field of social media in sport studies.

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Social Media and Sport Studies (2014–2023): A Critical Review

Gashaw Abeza

Building on the foundational study conducted by Abeza et al., this work extends the investigation by critically reviewing social media research in sport studies published from June 2014 to June 2023. Methodologically, the review involved an examination of 153 original research articles from five prominent journals in sport communication and sport management, namely the International Journal of Sport Communication, Communication & Sport, Journal of Sport Management, Sport Management Review, and European Sport Management Quarterly. The study identified the research streams, platforms, theories, and research methods that have garnered attention in the social media research community. The findings reveal several key insights that contribute to the ongoing dialogue in the field, stimulating further exploration and advancing knowledge at the intersection of social media and sport.

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Determinants of Consumers’ Adoption of Mobile Ticketing via Self-Service Technology

Sanghoon Kim, Kwangho Park, Jun-Phil Uhm, and Hyun-Woo Lee

The purpose of this study was to examine the determinants of sport consumers’ mobile ticketing adoption by the technology readiness constructs and quality–satisfaction–behavioral intentions framework. A total of 295 participants were included in the analysis. Data analysis was performed using structural equation modeling and PROCESS macro. A content analysis was conducted to provide further insight into the proposed model using open-ended responses. The findings indicate that consumers’ technology readiness alone was not a positive driver of mobile ticketing but suggest a role for technology readiness in promoting mobile ticketing, combined with service quality, satisfaction, and online ticket purchasing. The importance and originality of this study are that it confirms the sport context as a unique and effective vehicle in advancing existing knowledge of consumers’ ticket consumption behavior via self-service technology across various disciplines. Also, the findings can be used to set out recommendations for policy or practice aimed at facilitating and sustaining mobile ticketing consumption.