This commentary analyzes how misinformation related to a coronavirus case of a star soccer player (i.e., Wu Lei) was spread widely on Chinese digital media and accepted by sports fans as the truth. The paper first examines the mechanisms by exploring how misinformation emerged and was disseminated. Then, the paper explores how social media and the fast-growing self-media in China exacerbate tendencies toward misinformation during the news production process, which poses a new threat to legacy media and journalists’ profession. The paper concludes by discussing new challenges faced by Chinese sports journalists in the new digital era after COVID-19.
Thilo Kunkel, Olan Scott, and Anthony Beaton
Michael Lahoud is a professional soccer player who currently plays for Miami FC in the North American Soccer League (NASL). He was born in Sierra Leone, where he escaped civil war when he was 6 years old. As a refugee, soccer helped him integrate in the United States, where he was drafted as the ninth overall pick in the 2009 Major League Soccer (MLS) superdraft. He is a community advocate who uses his sport to support charitable efforts such as the Wall Las Memorias project, the NoH8 campaign, and Schools for Salone. He was the MLS Humanitarian of the Year in 2010, and, together with Kei Kamara, he is the recipient of the 2015 FIFPro World Players’ Union Merit Award (a prize worth $25,000), which recognized their involvement in the Schools for Salone project that builds schools in their home country of Sierra Leone. His brand is Soccer can make a difference. This interview consists of two parts, with the first part being conducted in December 2015 when he was a player with the MLS team Philadelphia Union and the second part being conducted in July 2016 after two transfers within 4 months. The interviews provide an overview of his approach to athlete branding via social media and its impact on his career.
Stirling Sharpe, Thilo Kunkel, Olan Scott, and Anthony Beaton
Olan Scott, Anthony Beaton, Thilo Kunkel, and Stirling Sharpe
Bo Li, Olan K.M. Scott, Stirling Sharpe, Qingru Xu, and Michael Naraine
Media coverage in China and Australia examined a conflict between 2 Olympic swimmers, Chinese Sun Yang and Australian Mack Horton, during the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. While both swimmers performed well, there were several conflicts between the 2 leading to both nations’ media coverage portraying the foreign athlete negatively. An analysis of 398 print-media articles revealed there were sharp differences between the 2 nations in both the amount of coverage and the valence of the information sources. From a theoretical perspective, the framing of this conflict showed an “us vs. them” dichotomy, suggesting that both countries’ coverage was strongly influenced to protect the reputation and honor of the home athlete. Coverage in both nations was markedly different, suggesting a home-nation favoritism. Implications for sport communicators are discussed.
Bo Li, Sarah Stokowski, Stephen W. Dittmore, and Olan K. M. Scott
Informed by framing theory, the study strove to investigate nationalism by examining Chinese newspaper coverage of the 2014 Incheon Asian Games. Through document and textual analysis of 324 articles from 5 mainstream newspapers, the study indicated that Chinese newspapers always portrayed Chinese athletes as “dominating the competition” and “lacking opponents in Asia” while portraying other countries’ athletes as “less competitive” and not at the “level of Chinese athletes.” The results also suggested that Chinese newspapers tried to positively spin the story when reporting the failure of Chinese athletes at the Asian Games. However, to increase readership and enhance public awareness of the Asian Games,Chinese newspapers also attempted to created rivalries between Chinese athletes and competing nations and, at times, emphasized national failures.