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Social Media and Consumer Behavior

Andrea N. Geurin

The topics of social media and consumer behavior are inextricably linked. Since 2008, scholars in sport-studies fields such as sport communication and sport management have increasingly focused their research on social media use by sport entities and consumers. This commentary provides an overview of sport social media and consumer behavior scholarship to date, including prominent and growing topics such as consumers’ uses of social media, social media engagement, user segmentation, and user-generated content. A scoping review was conducted to illustrate the current state of research on social media, sport, and consumer behavior. Future research priorities to advance this area of inquiry are also discussed, including more qualitative research resulting in rich and descriptive analyses, the need to better understand Gen Z as sport social media consumers, and the need to understand the connection between social media consumption and purchasing behavior. Finally, the commentary encourages scholars to expand their research focus in geographic contexts outside of North America, on underrepresented groups, such as women’s sport and disability sport, and to adopt new theoretical frameworks for such research.

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Examining the Digital Pitch: A 3-Year Examination of Social Media Metrics From Men’s Professional Sport

Alyssa Scalera and Michael L. Naraine

Although research in the social media and sport domain continues to uncover key insights related to content, there has been a push toward identifying the social media metrics that serve as the antecedents to relationship marketing engagement. Along that vein, the purpose of this study was to analyze social media activity (i.e., impressions and engagements) from all teams in a given professional sport league over a 3-year period. Contextually set with Major League Soccer teams for the 2017, 2018, and 2019 calendar years, 66,745 Instagram posts were retrieved using MVPindex and parsed for focal social media metrics (i.e., impressions and engagements) for each team using a temporal lens (i.e., by month and by day). Findings of this study align with past work indicating the need for sport properties to focus on posting outside of game-day windows, harnessing the ongoing, instantaneous nature of social media.

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Are Soccer Organizations More Resilient in Crisis Situations? A Scholarly Commentary on the Audiotape Scandal of Real Madrid’s President

César García

In July 2021, numerous audio recordings dating back to 2006 through 2012 were leaked. In them, Real Madrid’s President Florentino Pérez was heard insulting some of the most beloved legends of Real Madrid fans, including celebrity Cristiano Ronaldo. Despite his lack of manners, the seriousness of the president’s insults, and the lack of a formal apology, the images of Pérez and Real Madrid barely suffered because of this incident. This scholarly commentary examines the variables of culture and country as well as the specific characteristics of the soccer industry and fandom that explain the lack of public accountability when a top executive of a soccer organization commits verbal excesses in form and substance, as in the Pérez case.

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Role Models and Athlete Expression at the Youth Olympic Games as Impactful Sport Communication Practices

Jannicke Stålstrøm, Marina Iskhakova, and Zack P. Pedersen

This study investigated athlete expressions and the impact that Olympian (OLY) role models have on athletes participating at the Youth Olympic Games (YOG), with a focus on the YOG educational program. The YOG educational program was created in 2010 and has not yet garnered extensive scholarly examination. Therefore, the aim of the current investigation was to develop an understanding of the impact that OLY role models have on YOG athletes and the communicative practices young athletes use to express themselves. This study used a mixed methodology (i.e., survey and interviews) and drew on three theories (i.e., social learning theory, role model theory, and communicative theory of expression) to better understand the aforementioned impact of OLY role models on YOG athletes. An examination of the communicative expression practices of OLY role models, through the mixed methodological approach, produced novel findings pertaining to YOG athlete perceptions of the structure and benefit of the educational program.

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“This Isn’t a Sports Story … This Is a Life Story”: Elite Athletes and Myths About Mental Illness in Sport

Scott Parrott

Athletes face unique mental health stressors, including internal/external pressure, time displacement, and physical injury. In addition, athletes who experience mental illnesses such as depression and anxiety reference the role of social factors—specifically stigma—as barriers to mental health. The present study draws on 37 testimonials from The Players’ Tribune in which athletes disclosed mental illness. A theoretical thematic analysis pinpointed themes within the testimonials of athletes who elucidated and refuted myths concerning mental health in sport. Through disclosure, the athletes challenged stigma by protesting myths that discourage help-seeking behavior in sport. The analysis identified six themes in the myths concerning (a) professional success, (b) strength, (c) identity, (d) the sports story treatment of mental health, (e) sport as escape, and (f) isolation. Implications are discussed in relation to changing social norms in sport.

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The Anticorruption Effects of Information and Communication Technology in Sport Organizations: The Role of Organizational Health Mediation and Organizational Transparency

Sajjad Pashaie and Popi Sotiriadou

This study addresses a topic neglected by the sport management literature: the impact of anticorruption effects of information and communication technology (ICT) in sport organizations on the role of organizational health mediation and organizational transparency. This study analyses this topic by presenting and testing a comprehensive theoretical model. This quantitative, descriptive survey uses structural equation modeling methodology. Data collection was carried out by employees (N = 384) working at the Iranian Ministry of Sport and Youth. The results of the study were processed using LISREL 8.80 software in the model and hypothesis testing, and the study found support for the theoretical model. The results show that (a) ICT is an effective tool for reducing administrative corruption of officials, and (b) in terms of both organizational health (variance accounted for = 0.40) and organizational transparency (variance accounted for = 0.39), ICT has a mediating role in reducing administrative corruption in sport organizations. This study fills a gap in the literature by addressing both personal and managerial perspectives, thus allowing directors of sport organizations to consider ICT a useful and practical management tool for reducing corruption among officials in sport organizations, as an adjunct to traditional methods such as administrative reform and law enforcement.

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Branding a Nation: A Case Study on South Africa, Social Media, and the 2010 FIFA World Cup

Emily Sauter

In 2004, South Africa was awarded the opportunity to host the 2010 FIFA World Cup. The opportunity to reshape their national identity in the spotlight of the World Cup came at a particularly useful time for South Africa. Despite the country’s seemingly miraculous transition from apartheid to democracy—a transition lauded around the world—the country’s reputation was soon dragged down by concerns about crime, unemployment, and a rising rate of HIV infections. Although a number of scholars have looked at the long- and short-term effects of South Africa’s effort at creating a national identity during the 2010 FIFA World Cup, questions of process remain to be explored. What rhetorical strategies were employed to build this national image? What role did developing social media platforms play in the World Cup campaign? What were the communication tactics that led to a successful World Cup campaign? Using the theory of dialectical vernacular, I argue that South Africa was able to use the stage and emotional setting of the World Cup, in combination with a unique moment in time in branding and social media, to cultivate and deploy user-generated content to create a sense of authenticity that successfully sold a positive image of South Africa to the world. Essentially, South Africa was able to take digital material that was submitted by citizens around the country, and around the world, and use it to build a campaign that was vernacular, transnational, and embodied in nature. This allowed them to manufacture a national identity that effectively (at least in the short term) redirected conversations away from the more complicated issues affecting the country to, instead, showcase South Africa as a successful democratic nation.

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Indications of Referee Bias in Division I Women’s College Volleyball: Testing Expectancy Violations and Examining Nonverbal Communication

Andrew Dix

This research examined the ball-handling errors that referees called against historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) in Division I women’s college volleyball. A ball-handling error is an impermissible nonverbal communicative act such as a ball being lifted, a ball being thrown, or a ball being double hit. Previous research on referee bias was reviewed. Expectancy violations theory served as the theoretical frame because it focuses on nonverbal behaviors and how a message receiver responds to violations. Using publicly available data, this research sought to draw points of comparison between HBCUs and predominantly White institutions. The uncovered data revealed that referees called more ball-handling errors per set against HBCUs relative to predominantly White institutions. Furthermore, only HBCU conferences were penalized at a statistically significant level, while no predominantly White institution conferences were penalized at a statistically significant level. Theoretical implications for expectancy violations theory and practical implications for HBCUs were the focus of the study discussion.

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Thematic Analysis: The Cross-National Conflict Shifting of the NBA–China Controversy

Mu He and Weiting Tao

In 2019, a controversy between the NBA and China broke out. Although their relationship continues today, negative consequences still linger and cloud their future. As a transnational organization, the NBA was involved in a cross-national controversy, aligning with the theory of cross-national conflict shifting. The current study analyzed 703 posts on Weibo and 1,500 tweets by thematic analysis. It revealed diverse themes of online public discussions regarding the NBA–China controversy. It also found that social media speeded up the transmission of cross-national conflict shifting and complicated the cross-national conflict as it shifted back and forth between the home and host countries. Moreover, the study findings showed that when top executives engage in advocacy by taking a public stand on a controversial sociopolitical issue and get involved with cross-national conflicts, it is hard to separate them from the organization they represent. Also, their public stance might lead to public suspicion that they used social advocacy for private interests. Finally, the themes from the social media posts suggested cultural differences and an ideology crash between the host and home countries’ publics, which generated grander challenges for transnational organizations to deal with.

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Understanding Chinese Consumers’ Media Behaviors During Tokyo 2020: An Exploration of Media Consumption Among Different Generations

Bo Li, Olan K.M. Scott, Jerred Junqi Wang, and Liang Xiao

With the development and advancement of new technology and the increasing penetration of digital media, traditional media outlets such as TV, radio, and newspapers are not the only platforms for sports audiences to watch major events such as the Olympic Games. In this study, we explored how Chinese Olympic audiences embraced different media platforms to consume the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games. Through a survey of 383 Chinese participants, results revealed that social media, TV, and digital media were the most popular platforms on which to watch the 2020 Olympic Games. There were generational differences in media behaviors, motivations, and preferences between Generations X, Y, and Z. In addition, findings revealed that traditionally popular sports in China, such as badminton and table tennis, were still the most popular across different generations. Theoretical and practical implications for Chinese viewers are provided.