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

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Andrew C. Billings, Paul J. MacArthur, Simon Licen and Dan Wu

Media renderings of the Olympics continue to offer opportunities for hypernationalism. This study analyzes the same basketball game (U.S. vs. China in men’s basketball at the 2008 Summer Olympics) through the lens of 4 different telecasts in the United States, China, Slovenia, and Canada. Results illuminate us/them and collectivist/individualist dichotomies, differing themes of redemption and expectation, and stark contrasts in network style and content in game coverage. Ramifications for theory, fans, and network gatekeepers are postulated.

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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.

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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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James R. Angelini, Andrew C. Billings and Paul J. MacArthur

A population of NBC’s primetime coverage of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics (64 hours) was analyzed to determine differences between the media treatment of U.S. and non-U.S. Olympians. Results showed that U.S. athletes were highlighted at three to four times to rate their successes would suggest. In addition, American athletes were more likely to be depicted as succeeding because of their intellect, commitment, and consonance while non-American athletes were more likely to be depicted as failing because they lacked the strength and skill of other athletes. From a personality/physicality standpoint, American athletes received enhanced comments about their outgoing/extroverted nature while non-American athletes received more comments about the size and parts of their bodies. Ramifications for framing theory and Olympic nationalism research are articulated.

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Bryan E. Denham, Andrew C. Billings and Kelby K. Halone

A consistent finding in studies surrounding sports commentary on white and black athletes is that (a) white athletes are frequently praised for their perceived “intellect” and “leadership capacity,” while (b) black athletes are often praised for being “naturally talented” (Davis & Harris, 1998). A mediated conclusion that one could derive from such findings is that black athletes are expected to succeed athletically; conversely, white athletes are expected to have an innate ability to overcome seemingly insurmountable odds to accomplish their athletic stature. This study examined the broadcast commentary surrounding white and black athletes at the 2000 NCAA Men’s and Women’s Final Four College Basketball Tournaments. The content analysis of 1,118 descriptors embedded in commentator discourse revealed that, while black athletes continue to be praised for their athleticism and physicality, they also are receiving a greater number of comments about their intelligence and ability to lead.