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

Luke Mashburn

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A Case Study of Marcus Rashford: The People’s Champion, a “National Treasure,” and an Inspirational Personal Brand

John Vincent, John Harris, John S. Hill, and Melvin Lewis

This case study examined the English soccer player Marcus Rashford’s personal brand and illustrates the transformational difference celebrity athletes can make through social activism and advocacy for philanthropic causes through their skillful use of social media. It employed a textual analysis methodology and drew conceptual insights from the revised Model of Athlete Brand Image to chronicle how Rashford’s social activism and philanthropy resonated with his fans, followers, and the public on social media. His authentic social activism and philanthropic advocacy for disadvantaged and vulnerable children gave the nation a “feel-good” story during the COVID-19 crisis and enhanced his personal brand image. This case study recommends that future analyses of celebrity athlete personal brands should consider including three new categories in the marketable life section of the revised Model of Athlete Brand Image: social activism, cobranding partnerships, and awards and honors.

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Increasing Sport Fans’ Receptivity to Sustainability Messaging Through the Enhancement of Brand Authenticity

Chanwook Do, Minjung Kim, Brian P. McCullough, Han Soo Kim, and Hyun-Woo Lee

Brand authenticity is a crucial concept in determining a continuing relationship between a team and its fans. To better understand brand authenticity in the sport industry, this study explored how professional sport teams’ brand authenticity can be enhanced by its antecedents and what is the role of brand authenticity on fan loyalty, ultimately enhancing receptivity to environmental sustainability messaging. A total of 349 fans of the National Football League participated in an online survey. This research employed structural equation modeling to examine the relationships among the eight main constructs in the hypothesized research model. The results indicated that the five predictors positively influenced the team’s brand authenticity. Furthermore, enhanced brand authenticity impacted fan loyalty, while receptivity to environmental sustainability messaging was affected by fan loyalty and environmental sustainability attitude. The findings demonstrate how sport organizations can increase fans’ receptivity to environmental sustainability messaging through fans’ perceived brand authenticity and loyalty.

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Examining Audiences’ Information-Seeking Behavior Surrounding the Super Bowl and Sex Trafficking: Insights From Google Trends Data

Wenche Wang, Stacy-Lynn Sant, and Elizabeth King

Sex trafficking is a prominent human rights issue that has been increasingly associated with the hosting of large-scale sport events. Despite insufficient evidence demonstrating a causal or correlative link, event stakeholders have implemented antitrafficking efforts in attempts to prevent and promote awareness of sex trafficking. Using Google Trends data to measure audiences’ information-seeking behavior online and Twitter data as a proxy for antitrafficking efforts on social media, we employed a difference-in-differences approach to estimate the change in online demand for sex-trafficking information among the residents of Miami-Dade, the host city of Super Bowl LIV (54). Findings highlight an increase in the online demand for sex-trafficking information in the host city during and after the event. This increased demand attributed to the Super Bowl may offer support for host communities utilizing sport events to promote awareness of pressing social issues.

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Erratum. Mediated Sports Money: An Analysis of the Relationship Between Sports Media Consumption and College Students’ Perceived Financial Understanding

International Journal of Sport Communication

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Mediated Sports Money: An Analysis of the Relationship Between Sports Media Consumption and College Students’ Perceived Financial Understanding

Patrick C. Gentile, Zachary W. Arth, Emily J. Dirks, and Nicholas R. Buzzelli

This study investigated the correlation between sports media consumption and its influence on college students’ perception of finances. Through the lens of cultivation theory, the study sought to gauge how financial information featured in sports media may impact college students’ perceptions about money. A survey was distributed to 225 participants across four states. Results indicate that students who consume a greater amount of sports media are more likely to have a higher perceived understanding of financial concepts, higher confidence when it comes to finances, and even an elevated perception of entry-level salaries when compared with non–sports fans. Overall, sports media consumption can influence how college student sports fans perceive finances.

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Volume 17 (2024): Issue 1 (Mar 2024): Special Issue—Social Media and Sport Communication: Research Studies

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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.

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How Language Shapes Relationships in Professional Sports Teams: Power and Solidarity Dynamics in a New Zealand Rugby Team

Tracie Edmondson

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“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.