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What Determines the Number of Social Media Followers of Professional Cyclists: A Statistical Analysis

Jeroen Belien, Kevin De Clercq, and Michel Meulders

This paper examines which factors influence the change in the number of followers of professional cyclists on social media using a fixed-effects model on 33 days of panel data regarding the performance, activity, and content of Twitter messages of 795 cyclists. The analysis shows that a better race performance leads to more new followers. Posting social tweets has no effect, but posting social retweets does increase the number of new followers for riders with a low or medium number of followers. For parasocial tweets, the reverse is true: Parasocial retweets have no effect, while parasocial noninteractive tweets have a positive significant effect for riders with a low or high number of followers. Finally, for riders with a high number of followers, posting a general question to followers has a positive impact on the number of new followers. Cyclists and teams can use the results of this study to identify over- and underperformers in terms of social media success and to attract more followers with all the associated benefits.

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Exploring the Influence of Match Fixing on Consumer Motivations to Watch Esports: Perspectives From Brand Producers

Michael L. Williamson, Kevin Filo, Jason Doyle, and Brooke Harris-Reeves

Existing challenges to the esports industry, such as match fixing, potentially affect consumer motivations to watch esports. Additionally, the esports literature examining consumer motivations to watch competitions relies on data gathered from consumers. An opportunity is presented to understand industry challenges alongside additional stakeholder perspectives on consumer motivations. The purpose is to explore the perceived influence of match fixing on consumer motivations to watch esports broadcasts, from the perspective of esports brand producers. Informed by uses and gratification theory, 30 semistructured interviews were conducted with brand producers in the Australian esports industry. Four themes were generated from thematic analysis: diminished integrity, decreased engagement, limited individual impact, and reduced drama. The findings provide insight for brand producers to craft strategic communications, which mitigate negative motivational influences and encourage consumers to watch esports. The current research extends the understanding of consumer motivations to watch esports by considering the perspective of brand producers.

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“We Love You, Katie”: A Critical Discourse Analysis of Stanford University’s Response to the Passing of Katie Meyer

Natalie Bunch, Lauren Beasley, and Janie Copple

In 2022, Stanford University’s Katie Meyer and at least four other college athletes in the United States died by suicide. If used appropriately, social media is a potential platform to destigmatize mental health through initiating discussions and providing educational resources. The study explores how Stanford University’s athletic department utilized Twitter to address mental health in the year after Meyer’s passing. Guided by Bronfenbrenner’s ecological systems theory and Fairclough’s approach to critical discourse analysis, this study examined 59 tweets posted across Stanford University’s athletic department and program platforms. The current study found that Stanford’s social media messaging reinforced mental health stigma and the sport ethic across the micro-, meso-, exo-, and macrosystem, which discourage sport consumers from changing their perceptions of mental health stigma in sport. Furthermore, the social media messaging does not demonstrate future institutional emphasis on mental health. We conclude with best practices for college sport administrators.

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Augmented Basking in Reflected Glory? A Case Study of Psychological Mechanisms Underlying Sport Fans’ Augmented Reality Filters

Jingyue Tao, Natalie Brown-Devlin, and Ali Forbes

Among all the innovative applications of immersive technologies in the sport industry, augmented reality (AR) has demanded more scholarly attention. Particularly, using AR face filters that layer computer-generated visual effects over the physical world on mobile devices became a valued marketing tactic that brands employed to attract fans. Yet, limited empirical evidence has explored the effect of AR on sport fans’ digital fandom. Through an online quasi-experiment (N = 250) following a 2022 FIFA World Cup match between the U.S. and U.K. soccer (e.g., association football) teams, data suggest an important role of BIRGing (basking in reflected glory) in influencing fans’ AR filter use. Specifically, fans with a stronger tendency to bask in reflected glory elicited a higher perception of affiliation and enjoyment, which tended to be more likely to use AR. These effects were heightened when fans’ team identification was higher and they believed their team performed better. Theoretical and practical implications were addressed accordingly.

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Concise Introduction to Sport Marketing

Zack P. Pedersen

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Sport and Social Media in Business and Society

Taylor M. Hanson

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Integrated Marketing Communication in Football

Martin Barrett

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Social Media in Sport: Evidence-Based Perspectives

Peyton J. Stensland

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Front Office Fantasies: The Rise of Managerial Sports Media

Michael White

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Soccer’s Neoliberal Pitch: The Sport’s Power, Profit, and Discursive Politics

Luke Mashburn