This study investigated how LeBron James’s free-agency decision in 2018 influences sport fans’ image impressions of him with in-groups (Cleveland Cavaliers) and out-groups (all other NBA teams) compared. In the months preceding James’s free-agency decision, an experimental design was employed to ask self-ascribed fans of LeBron James how they felt about 4 possible free-agency destinations: the Cleveland Cavaliers, the Houston Rockets, the Golden State Warriors, and his eventual selection, the Los Angeles Lakers. A total of 189 U.S. fans of LeBron James were recruited for the study. Results indicate that James’s image became worse (in terms of mean scores) for every out-group condition, while being slightly improved if opting to remain in the in-group; however, images were significantly different from other out-groups in the scenario in which LeBron James opted to join the Golden State Warriors—the Cavaliers most immediate rival at the time.
Sitong Guo, Andrew C. Billings and James C. Abdallah
Dustin A. Hahn
While many sport fans gravitate to new media, questions remain regarding what they are consuming. Specifically, this study addresses a nascent gap in sport communication research by identifying the presentation form and subject portrayals of 443 Instagram posts during 2018 college basketball tournaments and measuring subsequent likability of such depictions. Results yield 4 important findings. Primarily, in contrast to early exemplification research, evidence suggests that some audiences “like” base-rate information. In addition, while Instagram is known as a photo platform, posts in this population were most often videos, and memes were liked more than any other presentation form. Next, while this content analysis identifies an old problem in a new domain—that female athletes are shunned in favor of male athletes—it demonstrates that likability in this medium emerges as equal for male and female subjects and sports. Finally, related to subject demographics, findings demonstrated racial disparities and concerning statistics for likability of minority subjects. Implications for exemplification theory and social media producers in sport are discussed along with limitations and directions for future research in this burgeoning arena.
Patrick McAvoy and Taesoo Ahn
Ken Payne and Curtis Edge
Mark Dottori, Guy Faulkner, Ryan Rhodes, Norm O’Reilly, Leigh Vanderloo and Gashaw Abeza
This study explored the frame-setting and frame-sending process of media who reported on the 2015 ParticipACTION Report Card on Physical Activity for Children and Youth. Through the use of a case-study method employing a sequential explanatory mixed-methods approach (content analysis followed by semistructured interviews), the findings revealed a high level of frame-sending characteristics by the media, and the framing of stories was found to be influencing the message being sent, making it different from the original messaging sent by public relations practitioners charged with dispersing information. Theoretical and practical contributions are discussed along with suggestions for future studies.
Kathryn E. Shea
Emma Kavanagh, Chelsea Litchfield and Jaquelyn Osborne
This study investigated gender-based violence targeting high-profile women in virtual environments through the case of women’s tennis. Using a netnographic approach and the lens of third-wave feminism, 2 popular social media platforms (Facebook and Twitter) were analyzed to examine social commentary and fan interaction surrounding the top-5-seeded female tennis players during the Wimbledon Tennis Championships. Athletes were exposed to violent interactions in a number of ways. Four themes were identified through data analysis: threats of physical violence, sexualization that focused on the female physical appearance, sexualization that expressed desire and/or proposed physical or sexual contact, and sexualization that was vile, explicit, and threateningly violent in a sexual or misogynistic manner. Findings demonstrate how social media provides a space for unregulated gender-based cyberhate targeting high-profile women in their workplace in a way that traditional sport media does not.