This case study investigated athletes’ use of a specific social-media platform—Twitter. Social media are a rising force in marketing and have been fully embraced by the sport industry, with teams, leagues, coaches, athletes, and managers establishing presences. Primarily these presences have been focused on Twitter, a microblogging site that allows users to post their personal thoughts in 140 characters or less. Athletes, in particular, have engaged in tweeting at a fast pace, which raises the question, What are they saying? This case study investigated the tweets of athletes over a 7-d period in an attempt to answer that question. The findings indicate that athletes are talking predominantly about their personal lives and responding to fans’ queries through Twitter. The results indicate that Twitter is a powerful tool for increasing fan–athlete interaction.
Evan Frederick and Ann Pegoraro
The purpose of this case study was to determine what image-repair strategies the University of Louisville employed immediately after the announcement of an FBI investigation involving multiple universities and college coaches taking bribes in order to steer high-profile recruits to certain agents. Specifically, this case study examined the image-repair strategies used on the University of Louisville’s official Facebook page and the comments made to those posts to gauge public reaction to the university’s image-repair strategies. The University of Louisville primarily employed the image-repair strategies of transcendence, bolstering, stonewalling, and a newly identified strategy referred to as rallying, or unifying and “moving beyond” the scandal. Three themes emerged from an inductive analysis of users’ comments, including support, rejection, and scandal. The high volume of support indicates that many users were receptive to the university’s attempt to reduce the offensiveness of the scandal through the use of bolstering and transcendence.
Evan Frederick, Ann Pegoraro, and Jimmy Sanderson
The purpose of this study was to investigate how Donald Trump used Twitter to position sport within the greater sociopolitical landscape. An inductive analysis of Trump’s sport-related tweets revealed four themes including (a) sport as self-promotion, (b) sport as fandom, (c) sport as battleground, and (d) sport as American identity. This study found that Trump positioned sport as a status symbol. In doing so, he leveraged his power, wealth, and connections to the industry to belittle and champion sport entities. Trump simultaneously leveraged Twitter to display how sport relationships can further one’s business ventures and build a personal brand. In addition, Trump’s discourse shifted sport away from fulfilling a central role in society, as a beacon where social inequities can be critiqued and perhaps elevated into the public consciousness.
Ann Pegoraro, Norman J. O’Reilly, and Martin Giguere
This study examined the advertisement structure of online and off-line broadcasts as consumer drivers to Web sites through the integration of specific calls to action. Content analysis was performed on ads aired during the online and off-line broadcasts of an NCAA Men’s Basketball Tournament. The key finding of this research is that communication and technology companies value advertising during online sporting-event broadcasts, because these companies were significantly more visible during the online broadcasts than the television broadcasts (χ2 = 6.67, p = .017). A much higher percentage of online ads were shorter (15 seconds) in duration (χ2 = 7.029, p = .01), appealed to fantasy (χ2 = 8.494, p = .004), and used advertising execution techniques emphasizing new products or features (49%) more often than in television ads (18%; χ2 = 11.078, p = .001). The findings provide insight into how calls to action in advertisements during Webcasts and traditional television offerings can move consumers to Web sites.
Grace Yan, Ann Pegoraro, and Nicholas M. Watanabe
Although social media has been increasingly noted as an outlet for athletes to openly address social issues, there has been very little systematic examination on the organizational capacity of social media. To address this, our study seeks to focus on the strike organized by the football players through Twitter at the University of Missouri in 2015. Specifically, it adopts the theoretical framework of resource mobilization and conducts a comprehensive analysis composed of two parts. First, by identifying geographic characteristics and participant groups for #ConcernedStudent1950, it seeks to reveal the mobilization scope and impact. Second, a social network analysis is used to delineate the organizational dynamics of the players’ protest networks. The results yield both theoretical and practical implications for athletes’ engagement in social activism in the digital era.
Evan L. Frederick and Ann Pegoraro
The purpose of this commentary is to present the state of sport, social media, and crisis communication research. Existing crisis-communication research involving athletes and coaches; collegiate institutions; teams, leagues, and governing bodies; journalists; and other sport entities are discussed. The commentary concludes with a discussion of directions for future research, including (a) interviewing industry professionals, (b) employing survey design to examine user response, (c) employing experimental design with social media manipulations, (d) validating and developing frameworks, and (e) examining additional social media platforms.
Nicholas M. Watanabe, Grace Yan, Brian P. Soebbing, and Ann Pegoraro
Prior studies have investigated consumer-based economic discrimination from a number of contexts in the sport industry. This study seeks to further such a line of inquiry by examining consumer interest in Major League Baseball players on the Twitter platform, especially considering the emergence of social media at the forefront of consumer behavior research. Specifically, the analysis uses six regression models that take into account an array of factors, including player characteristics, performance, market size, and so forth. Results reveal that when controlling for all other factors, Hispanic players receive significantly less consumer interest on social media than their counterparts, while Asian pitchers receive more. These findings yield critical insights into tendencies of sport consumer biases on digital platforms, assisting the development of an equal and efficient sport marketplace for stakeholders.
Evan Frederick, Nicholas Swim, Ajhanai C.I. Keaton, and Ann Pegoraro
The purpose of this study was to examine the evolution of social media commentary pertaining to LeBron James’ activism efforts during two pivotal moments of state-enacted anti-Blackness violence. Utilizing the lens of critical race theory and critical whiteness studies, we examined user commentary pertaining to James’ two Instagram posts responding to the state-enacted violence against Michael Brown in 2014 and George Floyd in 2020. While responses to LeBron’s activism certainly evolved between 2014 and 2020, it is wise to be skeptical of that newly found support for James’ message and the outrage toward a fundamentally racist society. Superficial rhetoric and virtue signaling are the norm, while progress toward substantive change remains stoic and still, often like the beliefs deeply etched within us.
Cole G. Armstrong, Melissa Davies, Matthew Blaszka, and Ann Pegoraro
This study explored the public’s response to the digital brand launch of the Seattle Kraken. Informed by agenda-setting theory and through content and social media analyses, the study identified the initial digital sentiment around the brand and the reach of the virtual conversations. The Kraken were able to encourage favorable conversation about the team by setting the agenda and encouraging consumers to engage with content at specific times during launch. In the first hour after brand launch, consumers focused conversation on the team, the logo and color scheme, and the effectiveness of the launch video. In the following 24 hr, the conversation remained positive and focused on how the brand positively represented the city and region. Through agenda setting, the Seattle Kraken were able to effectively launch their new brand while also setting the stage for positive brand-association development.
Katherine Sveinson, Elizabeth Taylor, Ajhanai C.I. Keaton, Laura Burton, Ann Pegoraro, and Kim Toffoletti
While the progress of women in the sport industry has become more visible, there is still significant gender inequity. Extending the sport organizational literature, we argue that the unpaid, invisible, and emotional labor of women, especially those holding diverse social identities, is significantly contributing to gender inequity at the organizational level. In broader sport research, the micro, everyday experiences of women stakeholders and the connection to macro societal structures and ideologies have provided foundational insight to build upon. However, there is a need for research to focus on the meso-level organizational practices, policies, designs, structures, and culture to create real change. Therefore, we present a conceptual paper, focused on a meso-level analysis and the invisible labors that women stakeholders engage in, to extend existing work and provide a pathway for further investigation into gender inequity in sport.