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.
Dustin A. Hahn and R. Glenn Cummins
Studies examining factors that influence credibility perceptions have demonstrated the importance of a source’s gender and attractiveness. However, scholars have only begun to extend these findings to credibility in the context of mediated sports. This experiment tested the relationship that gender and attractiveness have with credibility and whether this varies as a function of the gender of the athlete in a given story. Results indicate that reporters’ gender and attractiveness and athlete gender affect perceptions of credibility such that when reporters are of the opposite gender of an athlete, they are perceived as most credible when they are less attractive. Results also reveal a gender bias such that reporters are perceived as most credible when covering male athletes, regardless of reporter gender. Explanations are offered for these findings, in addition to a discussion of the implications for news practitioners.
Dustin A. Hahn, Matthew S. VanDyke, and R. Glenn Cummins
Although scholars have examined numerous facets of broadcast sports, limited research has explored the use of statistics in these broadcasts. Reference to statistical summaries of athlete or team performance have long been a component of sport broadcasts, and for some viewers the rise of fantasy sport has led to even greater interest in quantitative measures of athlete or team performance. To examine the presence and nature of statistical references in sport broadcasts, this study examines National Football League telecasts over time to identify changes in the frequency, type, and presentation form of statistics. Findings revealed an emphasis on individual player statistics over team statistics, as well as an increase in on-screen graphics over time. The study also revealed a simultaneous decrease in statistical references relayed orally by broadcasters. These findings illustrate the importance of statistics as a storytelling tool, as well as reflecting technological innovations in sports broadcasting. In addition, they suggest a possible evolution in audience consumption habits and desires.