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Blair Browning and Jimmy Sanderson

Twitter has become a popular topic in sport communication research. Little research to date, however, has examined Twitter from the perspective of student-athletes. This research explored how student-athletes at an NCAA Division I university used Twitter and reacted to critical tweets from fans. Semistructured interviews with 20 student-athletes were conducted. Analysis revealed that student-athletes used Twitter in 3 primary ways: keeping in contact, communicating with followers, and accessing information. With respect to critical tweets, student-athletes reported various perceptions about them and diverse strategies for responding to them. The results suggest that Twitter is a beneficial communicative tool for student-athletes but also presents challenges, given the ease with which fans attack them via this social-media platform. Accordingly, athletic departments must be proactive in helping student-athletes use Twitter strategically, particularly in responding to detractors.

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Blair W. Browning and Jeffrey W. Kassing

Interim coaches have become commonplace in college athletics. With much at stake, they must act as leaders despite the constraints that accompany interim status. This case study provides an initial examination of interim leadership in the domain of college athletics by focusing on a specific high-profile interim coach’s initial press conference. The authors specifically consider the content of The Ohio State University football coach Luke Fickell’s first press conference after being named interim head coach. Their analysis reveals that Fickell strategically managed the interim label and the temporal nature of the interim role, balanced service goals and career-aspirant ones, and performed collective identity through a variety of means. The implications of these practices for interim coaches in college athletics are discussed.

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Jimmy Sanderson, Blair Browning, and Annelie Schmittel

College athletes are active on a variety of social-media platforms. As a result, most athletic departments require them to participate in social-media education. Although this practice is becoming more prominent, little research has explored how college athletes perceive such training. This case study explored college athletes’ social-media use and their perceptions about social-media education. Semi structured interviews of 20 college athletes at a Division I university were conducted. Using social-cognitive theory as a framework, analysis revealed that while participants expressed a desire for social-media education, they indicated that most of the messages they receive about social media tend to be forgettable. Consequently, athletic departments need to take a more refexive approach to social-media education that incorporates college athletes’ feedback to optimize this instruction.