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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

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Ken Payne and Curtis Edge

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Mark Dottori, Guy Faulkner, Ryan Rhodes, Norm O’Reilly, Leigh Vanderloo and Gashaw Abeza

This study explored the frame-setting and frame-sending process of media who reported on the 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Through the use of a case-study method employing a sequential explanatory mixed-methods approach (content analysis followed by semistructured interviews), the findings revealed a high level of frame-sending characteristics by the media, and the framing of stories was found to be influencing the message being sent, making it different from the original messaging sent by public relations practitioners charged with dispersing information. Theoretical and practical contributions are discussed along with suggestions for future studies.

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Kathryn E. Shea

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Rick Smith