Content analysis is a popular method in communication and media research. However, to what extent and in which contexts it is used in sport communication research has hardly been investigated. In order to provide empirically grounded insight, the authors conducted a quantitative content analysis of scholarly journal articles using content analysis as a research method, focusing on three major international sport communication journals during the 10 years between 2010 and 2019 (N = 267). Results indicate that qualitative and quantitative methods are used equally while combinations with other methods are comparatively rare. The studies cover a broad portfolio of different topics. Social media as communication channels becomes an increasingly central issue of scientific exploration. Although the studies deal with 31 different sports in total, most of them focus on popular team sports such as football, basketball, soccer, baseball, and ice hockey.
Markus Schäfer and Catharina Vögele
This paper explores how emotional cues from unexpected sports outcomes impact consumers’ perception of their experience at local businesses. Using nearly 1 million Yelp reviews from the Phoenix area, I empirically test for the presence of loss aversion and reference-dependent preferences in reviewer behavior. Consistent with loss aversion, unexpected losses lead to worse reviews while there is no effect for unexpected wins. The impact of unexpected losses is concentrated in home games, with no effect for away games. The results also reflect reference-dependent preferences since wins and losses in games predicted to be close do not impact reviewer behavior. Consumer services that cater to National Basketball Association fans (e.g., sports bars) experience pronounced effects.
Hua Gong, Nicholas M. Watanabe, Brian P. Soebbing, Matthew T. Brown, and Mark S. Nagel
The use of big data in sport and sport management research is increasing in popularity. Prior research generally includes one of the many characteristics of big data, such as volume or velocity. The present study presents big data in a multidimensional lens by considering the use of sentiment analysis. Specifically focusing on the phenomenon of tanking, the purposeful underperformance in sport competitions, the present study considers the impact that consumers’ sentiment regarding tanking has on game attendance in the National Basketball Association. Collecting social media posts for each National Basketball Association team, the authors create an algorithm to measure the volume and sentiment of consumer discussions related to tanking. These measures are included in a predictive model for National Basketball Association home game attendance between the 2013–2014 and 2017–2018 seasons. Our results find that the volume of discussions for the home team and sentiment toward tanking by the away team impact game attendance.
Qi Ge and Brad R. Humphreys
Companies engaging celebrity athlete endorsers or sponsoring sports teams experience negative stock price impacts if athletes engage in inappropriate behavior. Most previous research assumed homogeneity in the impact of misconduct on stock prices. The authors investigated the possibility that different types of misconduct generate different impacts on stock prices. Results from a number of event study models using 863 incidents of off-field misconduct by National Football League players revealed substantial heterogeneity in the impact of these incidents. Crimes that harmed others and incidents receiving media attention generated larger negative returns.
Kelly Fraidenburg and Laura Backstrom
Based on content analysis of 370 posts featuring sportswomen and 205 posts featuring nonathlete women on ESPN’s and espnW’s Instagram accounts, the authors address whether representations of sportswomen on social media uphold or challenge masculine domination in sports and whether this varies based on the gender of the target audience for each social media account. Catering to a predominantly male audience, ESPN’s Instagram rarely posted about sportswomen or feminism, reinforced traditional female gender roles, and relied on feminine stereotypes more frequently than espnW’s Instagram. Nonetheless, espnW upholds male dominance in sport through its separation from ESPN, the lower volume of posts about sportswomen on espnW compared with ESPN’s coverage of sportsmen, and its less engaging coverage of sportswomen.
Adam Karg, Ali Tamaddoni, Heath McDonald, and Michael Ewing
Season ticket holders are a vital source of revenue for professional teams, but retention remains a perennial issue. Prior research has focused on broad variables, such as relationship tenure, game attendance frequency, and renewal intention, and has generally been limited to survey data with its attenuate problems. To advance this important research agenda, the present study analyzes team-supplied behavioral data to investigate and predict retention as a loyalty outcome for a single professional team over a 3-year period. Specifically, the authors embrace a broad range of loyalty measures and team performance to predict retention and employ novel data mining techniques to improve predictive accuracy.
Travis R. Bell
When COVID-19 enveloped sport, it presented SportsCenter, ESPN’s primary news vehicle, with an unexpected and ironic form of “March Madness,” with basketball as the sporting epicenter for a pandemic. This case study applied an ethnographic content analysis to examine how the cancellation or postponement of sport as a result of COVID-19 was framed across 22 episodes of SportsCenter from March 8 to 14, 2020. More than 134 min of coverage was devoted to COVID-19-related stories, and 268 unique types of stories were produced. Descriptive statistics suggested that COVID-19 was framed as having a direct impact on U.S. men’s professional sports leagues and the National Collegiate Athletic Association men’s basketball tournament. When considering news format characteristics, SportsCenter produced its coverage through convenience and relevance to ESPN, not sport. Even during a “breaking news” pandemic, SportsCenter retained its long-standing news process of gender bias and nationalistic favoritism. The visual difficulty of how to “show” coronavirus also presented a production challenge, but the messages and cues embedded in the visuals depicted a rapid shift in discourse that focused on basic reporting without health or global context. Instead, SportsCenter overwhelmed viewers with how sport was ripped away from (U.S.) American society.
Samuel D. Hakim
The present study examined the Premier Lacrosse League (PLL) and fans’ identity and fanship. The PLL boasts a uniqueness many sports fans are unfamiliar with—non-geographically affiliated teams. Using socialization theory, social identity theory, and fan identity, the author sought to better understand the fan qualities of the PLL, especially surrounding athlete importance. A Qualtrics survey was distributed through reddit.com/r/lacrosse and major lacrosse forums with the goal to assess fanship toward favorite players, favorite teams, and PLL media consumption. Statistical analyses revealed that those who have a previously constructed lacrosse fan identity, consume more lacrosse media, and have been following a professional or college lacrosse athlete in the past are more likely to embrace the PLL. In a league where geographical affiliation is currently absent, research suggests that encouraging fan adoption of a favorite player is key to creating fans who begin to feel investment, loyalty, and increased team identity.
Karsten Elmose-Østerlund, Graham Cuskelly, Jens Høyer-Kruse, and Christian Røj Voldby
Despite a rich literature on organizational capacity (OC) in voluntary sports clubs (VSCs), few studies have examined OC building and its long-term sustainability. Against this background, the authors identified changes in OC among VSCs that participated in a club development program and examined the sustainability of these changes. The authors collected survey data 9 months after participation comparing the participating VSCs (n = 62) with similar nonparticipating VSCs (n = 64). A selection of the participating VSCs was then contacted 3–4 years later for a follow-up survey (n = 48) and focus group interviews (n = 5). The results show that (a) significant differences in human resource capacity, planning and development capacity, and infrastructure and process capacity were visible between the participating and nonparticipating VSCs, and that (b) certain changes in OC remain in the clubs 3–4 years after participation. A sustainable change was that core volunteers related differently to the work in their respective VSCs.
Gidon Jakar and Stephanie Gerretsen
European soccer clubs have different ownership models, some of which are still dependent on or controlled by the public sector. The authors investigate club performance in the 2006–2018 Union of European Football Associations’ Champions League seasons, using a random-effects and ordered logistic model, to identify how different ownerships are associated with performance and what other factors, such as Financial Fair Play, determine the likelihood of European soccer clubs progressing through the tournament and increasing their revenues. The private ownership structure is statistically significant and positively associated with the probability of qualifying for later rounds in the Champions League and consequently leading to increased revenues. These results, however, vary before and after Financial Fair Play was implemented. It is apparent that the objective to implement a policy designed to increase competitiveness requires a more in-depth approach than Financial Fair Play as wealthier clubs, despite their ownership model, are more likely to be more successful and widen the gap.