Volume 17 (2024): Issue 1 (Mar 2024): Special Issue—Social Media and Sport Communication: Research Studies
Social Media and Sport Research: Empirical Examinations Showcasing Diversity in Methods and Topics
Jimmy Sanderson and Gashaw Abeza
This commentary introduces the second of two special issues in the International Journal of Sport Communication centered on social media and sport. The empirical studies presented in this issue illustrate both the diversity of topics and methodological approaches utilized by researchers working at the intersection of social media and sport. Research articles in this issue analyze topics ranging from sport consumer behavior to online fan communities to coaches’ perceptions of activism-related content posted on team social media accounts. The research presented here also employs a variety of methodological approaches including experimental design, critical discourse analysis, rhetorical analysis, and applications of artificial intelligence and machine learning. Collectively, these studies offer a foundation on which future research in social media and sport can build to continue to enhance our understanding of social media’s impact on the sport world.
How Language Shapes Relationships in Professional Sports Teams: Power and Solidarity Dynamics in a New Zealand Rugby Team
“Doing What’s Best for Me”: A Cultural Values Comparison of Social Media Responses to Kyrie Irving’s COVID-19 Vaccination Status
Sitong Guo, Andrew C. Billings, Joshua R. Jackson, and Suyu Chou
In October 2021, National Basketball Association player Kyrie Irving was banned from competing for the Brooklyn Nets because of his resistance to being vaccinated for COVID-19. Two months later, the Nets softened that stance and allowed Irving to participate in road games. This study examines two prongs of the social media response to Irving’s vaccination status. A total of 12,000 posts were collected from the U.S.-based Twitter (now known as X; 6,000) and the Chinese-based Weibo (6,000), covering the first week of coverage of Irving and the Nets’ announcement. Results showed that Hofstede’s cultural dimensions help explain the theme differences, with Twitter’s comments reflecting more individualistic notions and lower power distance than Weibo. Moreover, Twitter users focused more on opinion-based expression themes, while Weibo users avoided commenting on the COVID-19 policy. These findings contribute to the literature by identifying the role culture plays in people’s response to a social issue.
Media Framing of Athletic Department Major Infractions: A 5-Year Review of Historically Black Colleges and Universities
Tyler A. Williams and Beth A. Cianfrone
Media coverage of Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) often focuses excessively on challenges and deficits, influencing public perceptions, but there is little research on media portrayals of HBCU infractions. This study delves into the portrayal of Division I HBCU infractions from 2016 to 2020 through a textual analysis of 60 article headlines from local, regional, and national newspapers. The research examines general framing strategies, temporal changes, specific frames, prominent themes, and attribution of responsibility. Results indicate that the media often frames these infractions episodically rather than thematically over the 5-year span, with limited case details. The headlines emphasized specific issues of reprimand and redemption, often holding the organization accountable. Newspapers contribute to public opinion on athletic infractions by presenting these incidents in an engaging narrative. This study highlights the need for a more nuanced understanding of how media shapes perceptions of HBCUs, especially in the context of athletic infractions.
Leadership With Legacy in Education-Based Athletics
Volume 16 (2023): Issue 4 (Dec 2023)
The Digital NBA: How the World’s Savviest League Brings the Court to Our Couch
Jiho Kim and Braden Norris
Examining How High School Athletic Directors Leverage Communication With Key Stakeholder Groups to Inform Performance Appraisals of Head Coaches
To ensure that head coaches are effective in leading athletic programs, interscholastic athletic directors engage in a performance appraisal process that reviews coaching efforts. Given the demands of the athletic director role, these leaders are reliant on stakeholders to provide insight that informs the coaching evaluation. Therefore, using the tenets of stakeholder theory, the purpose of this study was to analyze the role that stakeholder feedback plays as athletic directors develop the full picture of coaching performance during an evaluation. Participants (N = 25) featured high school athletic directors represented across school classification (i.e., 1A, 2A, 3A, and 4A) and school type (i.e., public and private). Through semistructured interviews and a subsequent thematic analysis, saturation was achieved at this sample size. Two main themes (i.e., main stakeholder groups and leveraging stakeholder feedback) emerged and demonstrate how key stakeholders should be considered as important sources of information guiding interscholastic athletic directors when leading coaching evaluations.
Sport Mediatization, Connected Fans, and Playfulness: An Introduction to Parasocial Pretend Play
Jeffrey W. Kassing
In consideration of sport mediatization, mobile media, and fandom, this work introduces and outlines the phenomenon of parasocial pretend play. This is achieved by examining the popular television show Ted Lasso, which chronicles the activities surrounding fictional English football club AFC Richmond. Viewer involvement with the show, parasocial interaction with its characters, and social media use by connected fans combine to facilitate this new opportunity for playful collective engagement. By connecting concepts from parasocial interaction and play, the assessment theorizes about and documents how parasocial pretend play transpires. It also identifies factors that may disrupt parasocial pretend play, discusses the potential for its misuse, and details apparent variations of the practice.