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Andrew C. Billings

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Qingru Xu and Andrew C. Billings

At the World Tour Platinum China Open in 2017, 3 leading Chinese table tennis players and two coaches withdrew from the Games to protest the sudden removal of Head Coach Liu Guoliang, triggering unprecedented public uproar online. Applying gatekeeping theory, this study explored how mainland Chinese media controlled information flow during the crisis. A thematic analysis uncovered 3 primary gatekeeping behaviors: repetition, selection, and manipulation. Findings suggest that the party-state, not media institutions, was the dominant gatekeeper in mainland China. The Chinese media system and sports system were both subject to strict government control during a crisis that challenged authority.

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Qingru Xu and Andrew C. Billings

This study content analyzed 1,013 thumbnails of news episodes at the Olympic Channel through the lens of gender. By examining the percentage of pictures rendered to male and female athletes, themes, sports type, sexualization, subordination, and action level, this study uncovered that although some sex differences existed, the Olympic Channel—overall—showcased a high level of gender equality in visualizing male and female athletes in news thumbnails, especially considering that the pictures analyzed were collected from daily-based media coverage. This study is one of the first to explore gender differences in a media platform established by the International Olympic Committee, with implications outlined.

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David R. Novak and Andrew C. Billings

No longer is there a question of whether the football World Cup is an immense media spectacle; instead, the question now is how immense the World Cup is in the overall human experience. Despite all the global excitement related to the World Cup, the bulk of the general U.S. public is seemingly exempt from the charms of the World Cup. This article examines American media coverage of the 2010 FIFA Men’s World Cup. A qualitative content analysis identified 6 major themes in U.S. popular-press coverage of the event in South Africa, highlighting the communicative undercurrents of media discussions in order to comprehend the disconnect between American attitudes toward the World Cup and those held by the rest of the world. Themes of media discourse range from the increase in participation of Americans in soccer to resistance to mainstreaming soccer in popular culture to how soccer affects cultural literacy. Overall, the results indicate some enthusiasm for World Cup soccer while outlining stronger resistance for the sport in general. Potential future research projects related to this line of inquiry are also suggested.

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Kim Bissell, Andrew C. Billings, and Bumsoo Park

The number of people accessing the Paralympic Games is growing at a time when few television ratings rise, warranting study of the influence that exposure to Paralympic media has on viewers. This study contrasts two forms (Olympic, Paralympic) of exposure to sport competition while testing other potential moderating factors, including personal experiences with persons with disabilities, trait and state empathy, and attitude toward disability. An online experiment with a national sample of 411 subjects reveals further variables that influence empathy for Paralympic athletes and potentially contribute to stigma reduction. The most holistic finding uncovered was that personal experience with a disability was the biggest predictor of everything else. Experience with disability also served as a key moderator or media exposure.

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Zachary W. Arth and Andrew C. Billings

This study analyzed the frequency with which the regional broadcasts of the 30 Major League Baseball (MLB) teams featured traditional and modern/advanced statistics. To understand these portrayals, 60 games, two from each MLB team, were coded. The coded content consisted of any on-screen graphic featuring one or multiple baseball statistics, as well as any comment from the broadcasters about statistics. The results indicated a clear spectrum of teams, with some featuring a high level of advanced metrics in their graphics and commentary, while some were substantially more traditional. Through the lens of framing, potential ramifications for statistical knowledge within different fan bases were discussed.

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Sitong Guo, Andrew C. Billings, and James C. Abdallah

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.

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Andrew C. Billings, Melvin Lewis, Kenon A. Brown, and Qingru Xu

A national sample of 393 NFL (National Football League [professional]) fans were surveyed about their use of ancillary devices when consuming NFL media products. Results indicate that male, younger, and highly educated participants were more likely to use second-screen options. Such second-screen activities were just as likely to be used for distraction (multitasking other content not related to the NFL) as for enhancement (bolstering NFL consumption with other NFL-related content). Moreover, the more participants used second screens for multitasking and distracting purposes, the more they felt that second-screening helped build, interact, and maintain vast social networks; advanced social interactions among their social groups for a shared purpose; and made them feel psychologically present among other people. Fantasy-sport participation was also found to be a relevant predictor of second-screen use.

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Xavier Ramon, Andrew C. Billings, and José Luis Rojas-Torrijos

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Zachary W. Arth, Darrin J. Griffin, and Andrew C. Billings

This study examined Major League Baseball (MLB) broadcasters’ descriptions of players through the lens of self-categorization theory. Two core variables were assessed: nationality (American or non-American) and broadcast type (local or national). Broadcaster language in 30 games from the 2016 MLB season was analyzed. Two forms of examination revealed that American players were more frequently described as successful due to their intelligence, whereas non-American players were more likely to be depicted as failing due to an ascribed lack of strength and were discussed more in terms of emotionality. Local broadcasters were more likely to highlight differences between American and non-American players.